What could increasing your clickthrough rates possibly have to do with sales? Why do so many marketers still celebrate the open rates on their marketing emails? These burning questions and more, answered in this episode of “As the Email Turns.” 🙂

Okay, let’s start with the easy one first.

Of all the metrics you have access to, assuming you have a platform that shows you standard email metrics, the open rate is the least reliable of the bunch. The open rate does not indicate engagement in your topic. It does not even indicate that your email has been read. It is not worthy of celebration. Watch it, yes, because as it goes down over time, you’ll want to examine where you started losing your list. We’ve talked about this before, and it has not gotten any better since that post was written.

Open rates are not an indicator of good, but they can be an indicator of bad. The one thing – the single most important thing – that you need to know about open rates is that there IS NO MONEY in open rates.

I’m going to digress for a minute. I was working with someone recently who was all jazzed up to get into Twitter in a big way. “Why do you want to do that?” I asked. “Well,” she replied, “I want to get followers.” “What will that do for you?” I inquired? “We will build our brand with social media. The more followers we have, the more people will know us.”

Guess what I told her?

The same thing I just told you. Just like there is no money in open rates, there is no money in followers. You don’t need followers. You need buyers. (And people don’t get to know you on Twitter if all you do is post links to your blog, but that’s a story for another day.) You don’t need email openers; you need email clickers. Your number of Twitter followers and your open rates have this thing in common: neither are a measure of ENGAGEMENT.

The money is in the click.

Let me say that again: THE MONEY IS IN THE CLICK.

Once you have that click, you start knowing things. You know what is interesting to a particular person. You know how you can nurture that person. You know what else you can offer that person to deepen engagement. You know what other products or services might appeal to that person. You know how you can eventually sell to that person.

You know, because you can track activities, behaviors, clicks, links, downloads, and participation.

But it all starts with a click.

So what does that have to do with sales? And, what does it have to do with you?

Back in 2008 (way before I joined the Genoo team), when the economy took a nosedive, my boss came to me and said we needed to suspend marketing, and I needed to pick up my bag and get out there and sell. Revenue was tanking, and the company was having trouble staying afloat. I am 100% certain that, had I not had the skills to get out there and sell, I would have been let go, or laid off, just like that. At the time, I had not proven marketing’s worth enough to insulate it from the economic realities of the times, so I either had to sell or leave. (Suffice it to say, I sold!) My point in relating this story to you, however, is that marketing can easily be regarded as expendable – if the worth is not proven every single day.

When I put my bag back down, and got back to marketing full time, I redoubled my efforts to produce a sustainable impact on the revenues of my company. That’s right – on the revenues. It breaks my heart to see people get into marketing and think that they do it for “brand building” or, less specifically, for “marketing.” Nope. The only reason marketing exists is to sell. Marketing is the tip of the shovel, the ground-warmer, and the seed planter. Marketing nurtures those seeds until they become seedlings; marketing thins the garden, and marketing turns the healthy, nurtured shoots over to sales.

And it all starts with a click.

If marketers can increase their clickthrough rates by 5%, what does that do for revenue? What difference would a 10% increase make?

Let’s do some math, aided by my favorite marketing graphic of all time – The Sales Pyramid.

I’ve seen this statistically proven, over and over again. It takes 100 suspects to create a customer. Sales PyramidMarketing can typically turn 100 suspects into 50 qualified suspects – at which point they become “marketing qualified” and could become prospects. Once marketing qualified, it’s up to sales to turn them into actual prospects – they’ll need ten of those to get five qualified prospects to get one customer. See?

So… every click in an email is an indicator of suspect qualification. Every page view, every download, every webinar… you get the idea. With lead scoring, each activity adds points, and you can set the number of points needed to be marketing qualified.

Now back to MY point.

If you can increase your clickthrough rate – if you focus your attention on THAT metric, that click can lead to a customer. So… if you can increase your clickthrough rate by 5%, you’ll have MORE qualified suspects, which means you’ll have the opportunity to have more prospects – and thus more customers.

That’s where marketing and sales collide. That’s why increasing clickthrough rate is critical. That’s when marketing becomes an invaluable, indispensable partner to the business, impacting revenue and increasing sales.

That’s why it’s important.

P.S. I wrote a blog post on ContentZAP.com that talks about Sales and Marketing – Explaining the Disconnect, if you’d like to continue exploring this topic.

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About Margaret Johnson

Margaret is a business and technology veteran who started marketing accidentally nearly three decades ago - when she was five and a true marketing prodigy (ahem). When not coming up with awesome ideas, presenting webinars, or teaching about marketing, she's living with two cats, a crotchety fellow, and a house full of antiques and collectibles. She does not use Pinterest.

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