I love music.

Whether it’s for setting the mood, inspiration, or drowning out the noise so you can get stuff done—music is awesome.

But did you know music can also make you a smarter marketer?

Here’s how…

Listen to your favorite song

Yep, go ahead. I’ll wait.

Then listen to it again. Only this time choose just one instrument to focus on—the vocal, guitar, bass, whatever. Just choose one.

Why one instrument? Because as you listen to just one instrument, you’re going to notice some things you didn’t hear on the first listen. And now, you’ll hear these little details very clearly.

Try it again with another instrument

Something new this time too?

Each new element you hear gives you a greater understanding and appreciation for the song. You’ll hear this song differently than others hearing it for the first time.

And how does this make you a smarter marketer?

You can use this process you just went through with your favorite song to help you make smarter decisions with your email marketing.

Your email reports can help you get an overall sense of how you’re doing and the details allow you to notice things others would miss so you can make improvements.

Let’s see how this applies to email marketing

Once you send out your email, you’re going to want to check out your email reports to see how you’ve done.

At first you’re probably wondering how many people opened your email, otherwise known as unique opens. But how do you know if that number is good or bad? You’ll have to look at more details to figure it out.

So you can then move to your open rate for that email. That’s the percentage of people who opened your email compared to how many people it was sent to. Even then these numbers may not make a lot of sense until you look at another detail.

How did the open rate for this email compare to other emails you’ve sent? Once you know that you can make a determination as to how your email performed in relation to how you’ve done before.

But don’t stop there. Next, look at how your open rate compares to other businesses in your industry.

Once you’ve seen these details you can figure out how to take action to make improvements.

Here’s how to make improvements based on what your reports are telling you

You’ll essentially have two options:

1. Beat yourself

2. Beat the industry

If you’re doing better than the average in your industry (which I’m sure you are) use yourself as the starting metric. That’s the number you need to beat.

If you’re below the average, you know your goal is to match or beat the industry average. Once you know the number you’re trying to beat then you can put a plan into action.

Here’s an example:

Take our Hints & Tips email newsletter. (Psst, you can sign-up in the top right of this blog to get it once a month.)

When I started here the average open rate for Hints was 18%. So how is that? Well, as a guideline we took a look at the average open rate for Constant Contact customers in a marketing type business, which is 14.5%. So in this situation we knew we’re doing better than the industry average. Great—but now we needed to figure out how beat our own 18% number.

Putting a plan into action

One of the first things we decided to do was segment our list by engaged and unengaged subscribers, we made this distinction by looking at who had opened or clicked a link in Hints within the last three months. These were the folks we considered engaged. Everyone else went into the unengaged bucket.

What was the result?

This one change has boosted our overall open rate to 36% (up from the overall 18%). Pretty cool.

Looking at the reports like this also allowed us to start making smarter decisions about what specific content we put in the newsletter for each segment. Then we’re able to break thing down even more, for example, by customer versus non-customer, we can try different subject lines, and more.

This isn’t just about open rates

You can apply this process to your clicks as well. Once you find your number to beat, then you can come up with a plan that may involve removing distractions in your emails so your subscribers take the action you want them to take or maybe you can try strengthening the call to action you’ve been using.

The idea here is to dig into the details so you can start making some smarter choices.

So grab yourself some headphones

Crank up your favorite song and dig through the details of your reports to figure out how you can do better and market smarter!

How do you use your email reports to make better marketing decisions? Tell us in the comments below. Share your favorite song too!