If you look at your CRM data, you’ll find that hardly 1.5-2% of the leads convert into sales in any given year.

Sure, this figure will vary based on your market segment and industry, but not all leads you generate through your marketing and sales campaigns will convert. Also, realize that while pursuing all the leads one by one, your sales reps might miss on some promising opportunities. 

To avoid such instances and help your sales reps pursue genuinely interested leads first, the role of SDR or sales development representative comes into the picture. 

In this article, we will discuss why you need to build an SDR team. We will also look at the qualities you should look for in the candidates and the software tools that help SDRs excel in their jobs. 

Contents:

>> Understanding different roles in sales
>> Why do you need to build an SDR team?
>> SDR roles and responsibilities
>> SDR sales toolkit
>> The qualities of an ideal SDR candidate
>> The best CRM for SDRs

Understanding different roles in sales

What is SDR in sales?

A sales development representative or an SDR is the person who investigates if a lead is worth pursuing or not. They focus on generating the sales pipeline for the rest of the team. SDR sales involve tasks like outreach, lead qualification, analyzing prospects, and lead nurturing.
SDRs work with both – outside sales and inside sales teams. Their main job is to qualify leads according to the set criteria and pass on the qualified leads to Account Executives or AEs. 

Who is an AE in sales?

AE or Account Executives are responsible for conducting meetings, nurturing the sales pipeline, closing deals, and managing customer interactions.

What’s the difference between SDR and BDR?

An SDR helps with the outreach efforts, while a BDR or a Business Development Representative helps generate leads. In other words, a BDR helps to get new business leads, whereas an SDR determines if those leads are worth pursuing or not. 

BDR roles generally demand some degree of creativity. For instance, they constantly brainstorm new ideas to find leads. Leads can come from many sources, such as search engine research, networking, making cold calls, social media, and anything the rep can think of.

On the other hand, an SDR may have to deal with leads (qualify leads) coming in from market research, emails, newsletter signups, a referral from other clients, contact via social media accounts, and so on. 

The roles of SDRs and BDRs largely depend on how departments are structured and often vary across businesses.

Why do you need to build an SDR team?

As your business grows, you’ll have more lead influx. Amidst this, you’d want to first pursue the leads that can bring the most profits. 

But can your sales representatives manage additional inquiries when they already have targets and leads in their pipeline?

Probably not.

That’s why you need an SDR team who can:

  1. Improve the health of your sales pipeline. That is, they ensure that junk or uninterested leads do not enter the sales funnel, and the executives will have only quality leads to follow-up. 
  2. Offload sales executives from dealing with uninterested leads, allowing them to focus more on closing sales. It helps save their time and increases their productivity.
  3. Drive growth through prospecting, following up with cold leads and reactivating them, and more.

For instance, in LeadSquared, SDRs contribute to the sales process through prospecting, gathering information like buyers’ domains and needs, analyzing product-market fit, setting up demos, etc.

“The most exciting thing in the SDR role is finding the right decision-makers for our product, understanding what they do, how they do it, and how we can help them make their job easier and better.”

Sahil Sansarwal, Team Lead Sales Development – US, LeadSquared

In the next section, we will look at the roles and responsibilities of sales development representatives.

Roles and responsibilities of SDRs

Sales development representatives are usually the first point of contact for a prospect. Their communication with the prospective buyers helps develop brand perception.

In general, the day-to-day task or job description of a sales development representative includes:

  • Identifying qualified prospects and navigating company structures to identify decision-makers.
  • Conducting high-level discovery conversations.
  • Using a combination of outreach mechanisms to nurture leads (Call, Email, CRM, Marketing automation tools, etc.) and supporting the demand generation process.
  • Generating appointments/meetings through proactive outbound prospecting.
  • Working directly with sales and marketing to discover opportunities from leads.
  • Meeting or exceeding SDR sourced Sales Accepted Opportunity (SAO) or Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) volume targets.
  • Collaborating with teammates to develop targeted lists, call strategies, and messaging to drive opportunities.
  • Managing, tracking, and reporting on all activities and results using CRM.
  • Attending field marketing events to engage with participants, identify opportunities, and schedule meetings.

Now let us look at the day in the life of a Sales Development Representative.

Responsibilities

1. Lead generation and qualification

Prospecting and lead qualification are the two key functional areas for SDRs. 

  • They use their network, social selling, and other strategies to generate a sales pipeline. 
  • They initiate discovery calls with MQLs (marketing qualified leads) to ensure that the sales pipeline comprises only qualified leads.

As every business will have its qualification criteria, SDRs are taught ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) or customer personas during sales training.

At this stage, an SDR must gather information about the prospects by answering the following questions.

  • Does the prospect fit into the company’s ideal buyer persona?
  • What are their priorities, pain points, or challenges that you can address?
  • What are their business goals?
  • Who is the decision-maker in the company?
  • What tools or solutions will the prospect need to solve their problem?

Using strategies like BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timing), SDRs can identify if a lead is worth the time or not.

2. Initial outreach

When an SDR finds a promising lead, they figure out the best way to reach out to them. A lot of that depends on where the lead/prospect spends most of their time. An SDR may reach out via social media, emails, or make a cold call if needed. 

While there can be multiple ways to contact a prospect, it is advised not to bombard them with texts across all channels. So, an SDR must think aloud before starting a conversion:

  • Should you send a text email or a video email?
  • Will talking directly with the person help? 
  • Should you send a connection request on LinkedIn or approach them over Facebook or Instagram?

If the prospect does not respond on any particular channel, the SDR reaches out to them via other means. 

The next part of the outreach is personalizing the communication – whether it is verbal or written.

For instance, SDRs must do their homework about the prospect, address them with their names, and converse in the language they understand.

In the case of reaching out via emails, personalization goes beyond adding the “First name” or “Company Name” to the email. It should be relevant to their work and the solution they’re looking to solve. 

Omni-channel engagement - lead nurturing

3. Lead nurturing

An SDR is also responsible for generating interest in your offering by keeping the leads engaged throughout the qualification process. For instance, a prospect may be unlikely to meet after the introductory phone call. At that point, an SDR would nurture them and educate them further about the product or the service.

Note that this approach is different from making a product pitch. If everything you say feels like a sales pitch, then the prospect will be unimpressed. However, you will have to help them with their most pressing challenges and offer something of value. When your prospect trusts you, you can be sure that the outcome will be positive.

4. Moving leads through the pipeline

SDRs share qualified leads with the account executives or account managers. The primary role of the SDR is to qualify leads, and most organizations reward SDRs based on this metric. For example, an organization can reward an SDR based on the number of booked meetings with SQLs or sales-qualified leads.

“In LeadSquared, successful SDRs have moved into almost every department in the company and most often continue their career in the sales or account management teams.”

Next, let’s see the tools that make SDRs’ work easy.

SDR Sales Toolkit

As we have seen, the key functional areas of SDRs involve:

  1. Prospecting
  2. Lead qualification
  3. Lead nurturing
  4. Scheduling meetings and demos
  5. Lead management

Fortunately, a myriad of tools is available to make their task easy. We’ll list some of the best ones, mostly the ones we use at LeadSquared. 

1. Sales prospecting tools

Prospecting involves identifying the potential customers and their contact details.

It might seem easy, but, in reality, SDRs also have to figure out whether they’re the right fit for your business. For instance, they may consider company size, annual spending on marketing, etc.

Below are the best tools for prospecting:

  1. LinkedIn Sales Navigator. It helps target, track, and engage with prospects. It also easily integrates with LeadSquared CRM to get a complete picture of leads as soon as they enter the sales funnel.
  2. Getprospect. It helps find email ids from the LinkedIn database.
  3. Lusha. It helps find phone numbers and mailing addresses apart from email ids.
  4. Chatbots. Live chat widgets such as Drift also help discover leads looking for some information/solution on your website. 

2. Lead qualification tools

Lead qualification is the process of identifying the people who are most likely to make a purchase. It involves assigning lead and engagement scores based on demographic, firmographic, and behavioral data (lead source, website activity, etc.). 

Our SDRs use LeadSquared CRM for automated lead qualification.

Automotive CRM Software - lead qualification

3. Lead nurturing tools

Lead nurturing is the process of engaging with leads to make them sales-ready. It involves calling, sending emails, asking discovery questions, and more.

The best tools to automate lead nurturing are:

  1. LeadSquared sales execution CRM. It allows creating, managing, and tracking email campaigns, landing pages, etc.
  2. MailChimp. It is one of the most popular tools for managing email campaigns. 
  3. Cloud calling solutions like RingCentralCallTracking Metrics, and more. By integrating these tools with CRM, SDRs can place calls directly from their CRM app. It eliminates the need to dial numbers manually.

4. Meetings and demos scheduling tools

  1. Calendly
  2. Acquity Scheduling
  3. Doodle

All the above tools help schedule, reschedule, or cancel meetings and send reminder notifications for scheduled meetings/demos.

You can find a list of meeting scheduling tools here.

5. Lead management CRM

“LeadSquared has put us in complete control of our leads. It’s easy to track them, share information between teams and follow up in a timely manner. The sales team is also much more efficient, because they know exactly which leads to contact first.”

Carlene Whitehead, Storm Internet

LeadSquared is the best lead management CRM for high-velocity sales. 

It supports automated:

  • Lead capture from several sources
  • Lead distribution
  • Quality and engagement scoring
  • Dashboard and reports

Apart from these, it also comes with an inbuilt email campaign and landing page builder and dialers (cloud telephony) and supports out-of-box integration with many third-party apps.

The qualities of an ideal SDR candidate

“SDRs must be able to adapt to this fast-moving environment. Otherwise, they’ll be left behind.”

Rajat Arora, VP – Sales & Marketing, LeadSquared

SDRs need all the traits of a good salesperson. They need a competitive and gritty mindset, a never-say-die attitude, good knowledge of the buyer persona, and proper communication skills. Here are some of the skills that the SDR role demands.

  • Research skills: The SDR needs to know the buyer persona well, their goals and challenges, and how the product can solve their problem.
  • Creativity: Decision makers at organizations generally have their email inboxes overflowing with sales pitch emails. SDRs need to be genuinely creative and not just use a script or a mail filled with powerful words to make a good impression.
  • A gritty mindset: SDRs need to love their job. Often, they will be handling multiple tasks at once. They will need to juggle between researching prospects, follow-up meets, and outreach efforts. Depending on the organization, these workloads will vary. Management skills are crucial for an SDR role. Having a gritty and yet curious mindset will allow individuals in such positions to shine.
  • Familiarity with the industry tools: A familiarity with CRM software, outreach software, and prospecting tools helps potential SDRs get recruited faster.
  • Communication skills: SDRs need to be active listeners. Top-performing sales reps listen more than they speak on the sales calls. Also, listening gives SDRs more insight into the buyer preferences that they can utilize while qualifying them for sales.

“I think it’s crazy that we hire for grit, stamina, determination, and perseverance when our customers want someone who’s compassionate, kind, trustworthy, a great listener, and an expert in their field. It’s like there’s almost no overlap between what customers want from a great sales rep and what a VP of Sales wants from a great sales rep. It all comes back down to putting customers first or buyers first.” 

Sahil Mansuri, CEO, Bravado 

(Source: LinkedIn State of Sales 2021)

So you know now, a blend of the above mentioned skills and listening skills can take you places.

LeadSquared: The best CRM for SDRs

In a recent LinkedIn survey, nearly 71% of respondents said their CRM system was “very important” to closing deals. 

CRM software is, in fact, crucial at almost every stage of the sales process. It is also an indispensable tool for SDRs. 

LeadSquared is the new-age sales execution CRM purely focused on reducing the total time a sales rep spends on any operational task.

In one of my interviews with a sales team lead, I got to know an interesting fact about LeadSquared.

They said – LeadSquared is much easier to use than Salesforce. Since people join sales from different educational backgrounds, they may not know simple computational logic such as “if-else.” And they shouldn’t have to because their expertise is building relationships. That’s where LeadSquared comes in handy. Reps can easily filter data without any code or computation. They say – “The “Smart Views” feature of LeadSquared is all we need.”

smart views - LeadSquared

Well, you’ll love LeadSquared for:

  • Mobile CRM that allows salespeople to manage their tasks, appointments, document upload, lead transfer, and more on the go. Managers can track their team members’ every move.
  • In-built dialers to make calls from the CRM platform itself.
  • Smart Views to see only the assigned tasks, leads, and activities – avoiding workplace distractions.
  • Efficient lead management and sales automation.
  • No-code sales process builder. Users can sketch the best-possible sales workflows for different products and teams.
  • Out-of-box integration with lead capture channels, like Google Ads, Facebook, 100s of lead capture sites, cloud calling, ads, Zapier, and many more third-party tools. 
  • 100+ ready-to-use reports and customizable dashboards.

LeadSquared is the only sales execution CRM for all your products, teams, and processes. Make your team the most productive workforce. Take a free trial and see LeadSquared in action.

Hiring insurance producers is a critical part of running an agency or brokerage. Finding and retaining top talent becomes harder every year as workplaces compete for the best producers. Once you find great talent, keeping them on your payroll is a high priority – after all, it costs much more to hire new people than it does to keep the good ones you already have.

Changing marketplace conditions over the last few years continue to make employee sourcing and retention a challenge, even in a solid industry like insurance and risk management. The good news is more colleges and universities are adding RMI programs to their undergraduate degrees, creating a new and motivated pipeline of ready-to-be-trained producers.

But the bad news is employers have to compete on more than just salary and bonus structure, so you will need to focus on your overall package to stay competitive. Let’s look at some strong ideas for finding, hiring, and retaining top insurance producers.

5 tricks for finding top insurance producer talent

Try these methods to establish a multi-faceted approach to finding top insurance talent:

1. LinkedIn

Do not avoid the obvious: promote your brokerage on LinkedIn and connect with others in the industry. Lots of people still search for jobs on the site, so consider posting your job opportunities.

Build out your LinkedIn profile to reflect your personal brand and show off your thought leadership through interesting posts and discussions. While you are trying to find top talent, you want to also attract talent to you. Do this by engaging with people and building a solid presence on LinkedIn, so potential producers know who you are and what your business is about.

2. Other social media sites

Try other social media, too. LinkedIn is well known as a top professional networking site, but candidates can be found chatting in Facebook groups, watching and creating YouTube content, or discussing current events on Clubhouse. Participate in some of these other social media sites as another way to find top insurance producer talent.

3. Colleges and universities

The growth of Risk Management and Insurance programs at colleges and universities across the country means a pipeline of potential producer talent is being educated. Try reaching out to your local universities to connect with their risk management program.

The insurance and risk management fraternity, Gamma Iota Sigma, is an active organization. You might get involved with them to find top students who will turn into your top producers. GIS hosts networking, educational, and career fair events you can support. If you are looking for an intern, the fraternity could be a helpful resource.

4. Press on your network

Networking—either digitally or the old-fashioned way, in person—is a great way to find new top talent. Ask around when you attend industry events or local ones. Are you a member of your local Chamber of Commerce and any insurance organizations that meet locally? If not, you could be missing a source of finding top producers.

5. Join professional insurance organizations

You are probably already a member of some industry organizations. Get the most from your membership by checking out their resources. Some organizations have affinity groups, so joining the agent and broker group might yield results when you next need to hire producers. There are local agent groups, professional designation groups like the CPCU Society, or trade organizations with networking groups.

3 tricks for hiring insurance producers

Once you find producers, make sure your hiring practices are up to speed.

1. Interview for top talent

Your interview process probably looks a little different than it did pre-pandemic. Ask questions to learn how your prospect handled the swiftly changing world. How did they maintain relationships, find new clients, manage communications? These types of interview questions will be expected by your prospect and will give you ways to judge their adaptability. Restructure your interview style if you have not already.

2. Consider ambition and drive

You are hiring people for sales, so finding top producers often means finding driven, ambitious, competitive people. Asking about past success in producer or sales roles the candidate has held is a good predictor of future behavior.

Top salespeople like to compete, whether against themselves or others. Ask about your candidates preferred benchmarks and how they like to be recognized. Some candidates might ask for higher commissions instead of taking a base salary, which might be a sign of a competitive salesperson who will push themselves month over month to do better.

3. Make the hiring process easy

Use tools and technology to your advantage when hiring talent. Video interviews help start the process, and letting candidates e-sign documents and upload their CV without re-inputting the same details into a cumbersome application creates a smooth workflow.

Investing in some basic tools and technology to communicate and process new hires shows your agency is committed to finding easy and efficient ways to do business. Lots of new hires want to work someplace with user-friendly technology to make their life easier. There is no better time than during the hiring process to show your dedication to technological improvements.

5 tricks to retain your top talent

Once you have found, hired, and trained your people, you will want to retain your top talent. It can cost up to twice an employee’s annual salary to replace them, so aside from the frustration of losing a great producer, it will cost you to replace top talent.

1. Employee education programs

Keep developing your top talent. Once you have hired them and they are working out great, it can be tempting to loosen the reins and let them run free. After all, they know what they are doing and are great at producing. But continuing to offer education, training, and ways to grow can help you retain talent.

People like to be challenged and to build on their skills, so offer ways to enrich their jobs, and you could see your employee retention rates rise. Some newer employee training programs use cool gamification techniques to make training fun and more memorable. These updated training modules might excite your staff more than the traditional ones.

2. Use efficient technology

People love technology that makes their lives easier—especially millennials—who may be the backbone of your workforce soon. Embracing cool tools and technology can set your agency apart from competitors and give your top producers another reason to stay.

Our agency CRM software helps you automate book building tactics, capitalize on all leads, and be more efficient – all traits a top producer will appreciate in their employer.

3. Audit your pay scale and benefits

Independent research on your competition and the marketplace, in general, can help you keep your salary and benefits package competitive. People have lots of options now, especially when many employers are hiring remote workers. You are not just competing with local agencies now; your top talent could be recruited by anyone, anywhere, at any time.

4. Mentorship programs

Allow your employees to flourish through mentor programs. Set up a way for newer and more seasoned producers to work together and learn from each other.

And it is not just the new producer who will see benefits from a mentorship program. Reverse mentoring is an excellent way for new hires to share their skills and knowledge with more experienced employees. Consider a new grad introducing new tools and technology to your more long-term staff. Everyone grows with mentoring programs.

5. Embrace flexibility

Work-life balance has shifted to work-life integration now. People need to combine their working lives and their home lives into a workable mix like never before.

The pandemic taught many of us to work from our living rooms alongside partners and children learning and working, too. These skills in adaptability and flexibility taught us something else, too. Lots of employees learned they liked being in control of how they accomplished their job. Commuting to a traditional 9 to 5 office job is a thing of the past, and employers who understand this mindset shift will find more success in retaining top employees.

Being flexible and offering employees the discretion to find the best way for them to do their jobs is at the core of the new work model. You probably already have an advantage since brokers and agents often have had the independence to work their book of business as they see fit. But now, it is more important than ever to afford this working flexibility. If you do not, your competitors will.

Final thoughts

Finding, hiring, and retaining top insurance producer talent is a big part of your job. Getting it right leads to successful agency management. Make it easier by following some of our tips. Ask us how we can help with other parts of your agency CRM and book a demo today.

Many companies try to gauge email marketing effectiveness purely on open and click-through rates. But there are a lot more data to analyze. Depending on your objectives, there are several metrics you should be measuring. Several organizations refuse to believe in the power of email marketing. But more often than not, these companies feel that way because they aren’t measuring the right KPIs.

In this article, we’ll discuss 15 essential email marketing KPIs with examples and formulas to measure them. But if you’re wondering – to email or not email, get your answers from the following statistics.

Email marketing statistics

Top 15 Email Marketing KPIs

1. Email Deliverability Rate

The ability to deliver emails successfully to a subscriber’s inbox is email deliverability. We find the probability of campaigns reaching a customer’s inbox using this KPI. Email deliverability rates are critical and several KPIs depend on deliverability. If you’re experiencing low email deliverability, these are factors that reduce deliverability:

  • Sending without custom authentication
  • Utilizing single opt-in
  • Sending from a free domain email address
  • Making it tough to unsubscribe
  • Low levels of engagement

Your email deliverability rate should be as high as possible. It is because receiving servers send error messages to email service providers. These messages (ESPs) show why a message bounced in terms of delivery. To calculate your deliverability rate, use this formula: 

Email deliverability rate = Emails delivered ÷ Emails sent X 100 

Email deliverability rate formula

This is the first KPI to measure when assessing your email marketing campaigns. The secret to getting your emails read and acted on is getting them into the inbox. Tracking the Acceptance Rate alone isn’t enough to determine this. It does not mean that an email got delivered to the inbox only because the ISP accepted it and did not bounce back. As a vital email KPI, you should simultaneously track the Inbox Placement Rate.

2. Email Open Rates

Once upon a time, this was an important email marketing KPI to understand how well your campaign worked. But there have been ongoing debates about the relevance of email-open rates in recent times. With Apple’s new data privacy update with IOS 15, many argue that the email open rate KPI is bound to die.

This rings true across the United States and areas where Apple dominates because there is no way of measuring email-open rates as every mail will show up as opened by the recipient. It thus makes email-open rates obsolete to many in the US. However, you shouldn’t feel alarmed or anxious because emails are not dying – only open rates are.

You have several other key performance indicators that help measure your success. Emails are rich in data and provide several metrics for analysis, so you’ll have your hands full. As the IOS 15 will mask open rates, it will be pointless to try and measure it. Instead, use the following KPIs, track your deliverability and segment lists consistently.

By personalizing the subject lines and email content, we were able to increase the open rates by 327.75% and click rates by 543.75%.

Shibani Roy, Senior Manager – Brand Communications, LeadSquared.

[Also read: Email Marketing Best Practices I Learnt After Sending 2,049,567 Emails]

3. Click Through Rates

The click-through rate (CTR) is the percentage of people who view a web page and click on an ad on that page. Click-through rates are a metric well-loved by digital marketers. A click-through rate is a metric that compares the number of people who click on a given link, which is then divided by the number of people that view the webpage, mail, or ad (impressions).

The formula to measure ad CTR is:

CTR = Clicks ÷ Impressions X 100 

An email campaign’s CTR measurement is slightly different and uses the following formula:

Email CTR = Clicks ÷ (Emails sent – Bounces) x 100

calculate email CT R formula

An example of this would be receiving 30 clicks after sending 75 emails. Let’s assume 25 emails bounce so the CTR percentage would be 60%.

This click indicates whether your campaign was interesting enough to entice an open. Additionally, it helps track whether you receive a response from your audience.

Note that CTR benchmarks differ across industries

Emails in the business and finance field, for instance, may have a CTR of 2.59 percent. Conversely, emails in hobbies may have a CTR of 4.78 percent. The purpose of tracking click-through rate (CTR) is to measure levels of engagement. The higher the CTR, you will experience greater success in engaging your audience. 

4. Unsubscribe Rate

Unsubscribe rates may feel scary to assess and bring about feelings of doubt. But, much like other crucial KPIs, it will help you improve and attract more customers. A higher unsubscribe rate can point out that you might be doing something wrong. In contrast, a low unsubscribe rate reassures you and signals your successful marketing.

If you have of late noticed higher unsubscribe rates, these may be some reasons for it:

  • Lack of segmentation, which generally helps in sending relevant targeted content.
  • Low levels of readability on mobile and irrelevant content.
  • Overloading their inbox with emails can cause fatigue and irritate the customer.

If you aren’t segmenting your email lists, start now.

Apart from that, take the following measures to reduce the unsubscribe rate. 

  • Segment subscribers based on criteria that fit your ideal customer. Don’t sell to people who have never shown any interest in your product.
  • As much as you can personalize your pitch, ensure that what you send is relevant to them,
  • Make your emails mobile-friendly and consistently follow up with requests for feedback. 

CRM and Marketing Automation software such as LeadSquared helps you segment leads based on your chosen criteria. It also allows creating automated drip campaigns to nurture your leads.

Lead Segmentation - real estate CRM Software

Finally, SmartInsights found that an unsubscribe rate of less than 0.5 percent is normal. Anything below 02% is outstanding. So, if you fall under these numbers, you’re good to go. If not, it’s time to start looking into making that rate reduce.

5. Conversion Rate

Most marketers would agree that this email marketing KPI matters the most. In a way, they are right because your conversion rate is a direct metric to assess the success of your campaign.

The conversion rate is dependent on the number of people who complete a call-to-action. Every email campaign you create should propel your customers to perform some action.

It doesn’t mean that all emails need to include a CTA. But conversions are directly related to your sales and your customer’s buying intention. If your conversion rate is low, it can prove to be troublesome for your sales. So how do you measure conversion rates, and how can you increase that rate?

The formula for conversion rate:

Email conversion rate = Number of recipients that performed the CTA ÷ Number of emails sent X 100

email conversion rate formula

Below are the ways to increase conversion rates: 

  • Customize, personalize, and push for engagement in every email campaign. 
  • Keep your subject lines crisp and short. This helps improve mobile readability and reduces the chances of them losing interest.
  • Your CTA should be visible, if possible, as a button in a contrasting color. This guarantees that your recipient won’t miss it while reading.
  • Automate your campaigns and create workflows that get triggered by specific actions. 

These are some steps to increasing your conversion rate. A low conversion rate can be just as scary as a high unsubscribe rate. But finding ways to fix it and implementing them can help solve these issues. 

6. Email Bounce Rate

When you’re sending off campaigns serenely, this rate looms in the not-so-distant future. Your email bounce rate, similar to the unsubscribe rate, is a difficult-to-digest number. An email bounce rate signifies the number of emails that failed to reach recipients. When you receive a Non-Delivery Report (NDR) for an email, it shows that the email has bounced. We find the percentage of bounced emails by using the following formula:

Email bounce rate = Number of emails that bounced ÷ Number of emails sent X 100

email bounce rate formula

These email bounce rates show three types of bounces. You can either receive a hard, soft or pending bounce.

  • Invalid email addresses are the most common cause of a hard bounce.
  • Soft and pending bounces signal technical issues with the user’s or sender’s email service.

So, figuring out which type it is can help you gain clarity about your bounce rate. A high bounce rate shows that several emails you’ve sent never reached the recipients. This ends up diluting your company’s message and damaging relationships with valuable contacts.

You can follow these steps to decrease your bounce rate:

  • Consistently clean your lists and get rid of inactive recipients as much as possible. 
  • Don’t send emails that may sound like spam accounts. I’m sure you’ve received several spam emails. Use them as a guide on what not to do.
  • A/B test your campaigns as frequently as it will help you get an idea of what performs better in bounce rates.

Your bounce rates are also heavily dependent on your segmentation capabilities. So, ensure that you have lists that help you reach your intended recipient. And get rid of the IDs that continuously bounce.

7. Rate of Email Shares or Email Forwarding Rate

A high number of forwards of an email campaign can always put a smile on our face. Forward rates are the number of recipients who clicked on the share button within your email. Your customers typically forward these emails to friends and acquaintances. It may not appear as a significant indicator, but it is something to strive to improve. If your leads forward your emails, it suggests they are brand ambassadors who drive sales. They can help you reach new leads and boost lead generation in general.

Below is the formula to calculate email forwarding rates:

Email forwarding rate = Number of clicks on the share button ÷ Number of delivered emails x 100

email forwarding rate formula

Developing brand ambassadors through email marketing is a great strategy. 81% of consumers follow their friends’ social media posts when making purchasing decisions. Whatever your next campaign is, try to make it shareable. Something you would want your friends to see that’s fun and interactive. 

8. Revenue Per Email Subscriber

The ROI will show you your overall return on investment. But looking at the income per email will show you the success of your email campaign. Using this metric, you can quickly determine which emails are the most effective. It can also assist you in identifying issues that are lowering the overall ROI.

In contrast, revenue generated by each subscriber shows you their worth. It is critical since it enables you to determine the quality of your email list. It will also help in accurately describing your ideal subscriber persona.

Following is the formula for revenue per email:

Revenue per email = Revenue from each email ÷ Number of sent emails

revenue per email formula

The formula for revenue per subscriber:

Revenue per email subscriber = Total revenue generated ÷ Number of subscribers

revenue per email subscriber formula

These calculations help you delve into the nitty-gritty of your revenue while giving you insights into the innate value of the subscribers in your list.

First, you must find the subscribers who provide the highest value. Then, you can search for more people who have similar traits. This approach will help you increase your revenue over time. 

9. Email ROI 

Return on investment (ROI) is a metric to assess an investment’s profitability. It is an indicator of the efficiency of an email marketing campaign in this scenario. Measuring email ROI seems straightforward. But you must consider your email marketing goals before you measure them. 

For example, we create campaigns for different reasons like:

  • To increase engagement and nurture leads.
  • Boost revenue and increase overall sales.
  • Increase brand awareness and create a positive image.

Once you categorize your campaigns under these areas, you can measure your ROI. For instance, email campaigns created to boost revenue must be measured in terms of ROI. But ROI might not be the right email marketing KPI for brand awareness campaigns. 

Use this formula to calculate your ROI from email campaigns:

Email ROI = (Revenue gained – Amount invested) ÷ Amount invested

Email ROI formula - Email marketing KPIs

If your gains are lesser than the investment, it’s time to figure out how to increase profits. Some ways to boost ROI from emails are:

  • Create clear goals with a plan of action to assess ROI comprehensively.
  • Try to push for more growth in your email lists. 
  • Check your deliverability rates and ensure that your emails don’t end up in the spam folders.

ROI is an indicator that is easy to get caught up in. It feels a lot more important, and, in a way, it is. But it isn’t the only measure of success. So, don’t feel down if it is lower than expected, instead focus on improving the mentioned email marketing KPIs, and you’ll naturally increase your ROI.

10. Spam Complaint Rate

Spam complaint rate is a crucial indicator of whether you’re helping customers. A highly segmented list will reduce the number of spam complaints. In contrast, a lack of appropriate segmentation can cause considerable harm. Any spam complaint rate of less than 0.1 percent is acceptable across industries. Anything higher than this number is not a good indicator. Major inbox providers, such as Gmail, have established this as the industry standard.

You can calculate your spam complaint rate with this formula:

Spam complaint rate = Number of spam complaints ÷ Number of sent emails X 100

spam complaint rate formula - email marketing KPIs

For example, if you receive 7 complaints after sending 7000 emails, you have a rate of 0.1%. 

Ensure that this rate stays as low as possible. You can follow these tips to reduce your spam complaint rates:

  • Use double opt-in or add a clear captcha in your forms. It will increase the level of confirmation from your recipient’s side.
  • Keep the option to unsubscribe in a visible spot. Unsubscribing, unlike spam complaints, won’t hurt your deliverability.
  • Send the emails through the specific domains your leads signed up within. It reduces any feelings of confusion or frustration. 

Your spam complaint rate can feel overwhelming if it’s high. But it is easy to lower this rate once you actively look into this email marketing KPI. Whatever the rate is, ensure that it doesn’t create a negative impact on your brand.

11. List Growth Rate

Your list growth rate shows the rate at which your subscriber base is growing.

It’s critical to determine if and how fast your mailing list is increasing. If your rate is low, or worse, negative, you should rethink your lead generation strategies.

In contrast, when you experience increased growth, ensure that your engagement stays strong. List growth goes hand in hand with greater forwards and shares. So if you want your lists to grow organically, make sure that you create shareable content.

Content that is widely appreciated will naturally help your list growth rate improve, whereas you will see negative numbers when your content fails to engage your leads.

List growth rate = (Number of new email subscribers – number of people who unsubscribed) ÷ total number of email IDs X 100

email list growth rate formula

You should track your list growth and attrition in addition to the call-to-action metrics. Also, you must strive to develop your mailing list to expand your influence. It will help diversify your audience and establish yourself in your industry.

12. Subscriber Lifetime Value 

The lifetime value of an email subscriber is similar to the lifetime value of a customer (CLV). We take the lifespan of the email subscription and the impact your emails make at that time rather than just the lifetime of the customer relationship.

Subscriber lifetime value (SLV) shows the positive influence you’ve had on your customers. It gives insight into the value of your email campaigns in the life of the average subscriber. 

The formula to calculate subscriber lifetime value for a month will differ from the SLV for a year.

To calculate email subscriber lifetime value,

  • First, find your monthly revenue from the list of emails.
  • Second, subtract the extra expenses from that number.
  • Third, divide that amount by the number of subscribers you had in that month.

The formula for a year is far more intricate and time-consuming. Read this article to understand what steps you need to take to measure yearly SLV. A healthy SLV shows that you’re on the right track over long periods. It can be difficult to measure but will help you define goals for the future. Combine lifetime value with ROI, and you have powerful metrics that help you revolutionize your email marketing. For most email marketers, this is a major step forward.

[Resource: Learn how to run high-performing email campaigns]

13. Engagement Levels Over Time

When you track engagement over time, you can figure out the optimum times to send emails. You can also use email marketing automation to streamline the lead nurturing process. You can use client behavior or action-based triggers and deliver mails. Tracking interaction over time shows when non-automated emails have the best click rates. 

Some email service providers automate this process and collect data on your behalf. But, tracking this parameter on your own and finding the ideal timings can boost growth. It may seem like an inconsequential KPI, but low engagement levels are a warning. If you don’t actively measure engagement rates, you’re missing opportunities. You can use the various email marketing KPIs on this list to help find areas to increase engagement. 

14. Click-to-Open Rate

CTOR or click-to-open rate gives you an understanding of your email campaign. It shows whether your email had any true value to the recipient as it measures the number of people who opened the email and clicked on the content within. 

CTOR is a helpful metric to gauge the effectiveness of your campaign in creating interest. Readers will click through to discover more if your links, design, and content is exciting. This metric depends on the number of unique opens. You must use these opens to divide the number of unique clicks you received. 

 A good click-to-open rate falls anywhere between 20-30% across industries. If you’re struggling to get a good CTOR, try the following steps to improve it:

  • Create content that is meaningful and valuable for readers. Even if you’re essentially selling a product, show your readers how the product will help.
  • Hyper-personalize your subject line, ad copy, product offers, and more. Don’t create a generic copy while expecting several unique clicks.
  • Test different kinds of content and analyze what gave a high CTOR. It will help you find a definite content recipe that works over time.

Much like all the other email marketing KPIs on this list, CTOR will help you create better content. Not just that, it will show you how effective your content is in receiving engagement. 

15. Inbox Placement Rate

The percentage of sent emails that made it to the intended inbox is the inbox placement rate (IPR). If your inbox placement rate is poor, it could be because of:

  • Irrelevant information,
  • Reputation issues with the IP address and/or domain,
  • Sending messages to faulty or unregistered email addresses regularly.

You will be able to interpret why your emails are being filtered into spam folders at this rate. As you can now assess what kind of content immediately gets sent to spam. And you can find what content works well in getting into the right inbox. The formula for IPR is:

Inbox placement rate = Emails that reached the right inbox ÷ Number of sent emails x 100

inbox placement rate formula

In Conclusion

These are the top 15 email marketing KPIs that every marketer should monitor closely. Some of these KPIs may be more useful to certain industries but can help no matter what sector you fall under.

While measuring your campaign’s success, opt for metrics that:

  • Help you actively collect data to analyze where you can improve.
  • Give you a deeper understanding of subscriber behavior and increase engagement.
  • Help your organization create reachable goals and strategies for the future.

However, an indispensable tool for every campaign is segmentation. Your metrics can help you measure every activity. But if you fail to segment your lists, all the KPIs in the world won’t help you improve. Additionally, automating your campaigns and ensuring that you include action-based triggers is a must. These can lighten the load on your marketing team and help you focus on each KPI. To measure your campaigns and automate them, use LeadSquared! LeadSquared CRM offers email automation, tracking, and reports to make your next campaign more effective.


Email Marketing KPIs FAQs

How do you measure email performance?

You can measure email performance by looking at the email KPIs or metrics. Some of the most popular ones are open rates, bounce rates, CTR, Conversion rates, unsubscribe rates, and more.

What are the best email marketing analytics tools?

There are many tools available in the market for email marketing automation and analytics. Some of the best ones are LeadSquared Marketing Automation, Mailtrack, SalesHandy, and MailTag.

What is the most important metric in email marketing?

There are several email marketing metrics crucial to determine your campaign performance and improve them. Read the article to understand the 15 most important email marketing metrics.

The financial shocks from Covid-19 are still rippling through the global economy and causing stress on the re-payment capabilities of borrowers. In FY21, the microfinance loan portfolio grew by 17%. However, the increasing count of re-payment delinquencies has severely affected the collection efficiency of microfinance businesses. 

Today, the micro-credit industry needs a reliable, agile, and digital lending and collections framework. In this Episode of the lending roundtable series, LeadSquared brings you a discussion with senior leaders on digital transformation in the MFI segment and solutions to microfinance challenges. 

Panel:

Key Discussion Points:

  • What are the emerging challenges and trends for MFIs?
  • How do new tech models potentially minimize credit and operational risks?
  • How to create an agile operational credit framework
  • How can new-age collection systems improve the health of your loan book?

Watch the webinar or read the takeaways below to know how you can create an effective lending process for a healthy loan book.

What were the challenges MFIs faced 10 years ago? Has GST and the Covid-19 pandemic affected the MFI sector? What are the new challenges you foresee? 

Vivek: When I go back 10 years from today, almost at a similar time, we faced the AP crisis in Andhra Pradesh in 2011. Then we were an unorganized, less recognized, and less government-controlled sector at that time. 

Today, we have the small finance bank and universal bank licenses. We have grown to almost three lakh crore portfolio that includes Banks and SMEs, who have also grown with us.

Sure, there were (and are) challenges. But this industry has bounced back in a different way. Our recognition and strength were realized by almost all the stakeholders within the country and abroad. The best innovation of the decade, especially during the peak of the demonetization crisis, was digitization

Demonetization made us digitize our models. We’re more like a micro-fintech company now. Most of our processes have become digital with real-time data analysis and decision-making. 

Audience poll: For which customer processes do you use the self-serve option?

Poll - For which customer processes do you use the self-serve option

Kalpana: From 2002 to 2016, average income has gone up only by 5%. But the borrowing has increased by 25%. We should worry about it in the long term because a lot of debt is going towards consumption. 

Purvi: Every crisis in the microfinance industry brings a little more speed to the change. For example, during demonetization, our entire cash disbursement was removed, and we started disbursing loans into the bank accounts. And this time, I think the focus is more on digitizing collections. 

At the industry level, the Government of India’s initiative of JAM Trinity—Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar, and the Mobile number have been very helpful. Because of this, we can disburse in the customers’ accounts. We can also pull out the Credit Bureau reports very efficiently. And mobile is obviously helping with all these digital initiatives.

Now, coming to the digitization and the challenge that the microfinance industry goes through at the time of every crisis. 

As soon as a crisis occurs, the impact can be seen on the productivity of people. 

Let’s consider field operations. 

Suddenly, the same number of people are required to make multiple attempts for collections. A lot of it becomes easier when we digitize collections. It also helps us standardize processes. 

Microfinance is a very manpower-intensive business. But, through digitization, if you’ve made your processes right—like customer onboarding, customer geotagging, and digital payments—you’re less likely to get impacted by political and environmental disruptions.

How do you see the quality of processes and the level of digitization in India and abroad? 

Purvi: M-PESA, Africa’s most successful mobile money service, is an excellent initiative. They moved a lot of transactions to digital including microfinance transactions. 

However, when M-PESA was launched in India, it didn’t take off really well. Maybe it was a little ahead of time. But now we see an increase in the UPI transaction here as well. 

Vivek: My observation is that Indian microfinance companies have the lowest lending rate worldwide. Also, our operating costs are the lowest. We are operating in the range of 6-7%, whereas, globally, operating cost is in the range of 10-15%. Even though our loan products are restricted by the central bank, we’re able to survive and bring efficiency throughout. 

Audience poll: What is the top priority for microfinance in 2022?

Poll - What is the top priority for microfinance in 2022

Different MFIs are at different stages of digital evolution. Do you rate MFIs in these terms?

Purvi: So far, there is no metric to measure the level of digitization. However, almost all MFIs have switched from cash to bank account (digital) disbursement. 

Most established companies have moved their loan origination processes to a digital platform. But smaller companies would find it difficult. It is mainly because the portfolio is so small that the investment in technology may not justify until they reach a certain level. 

In terms of collections, the two major processes are collection and disbursements. The collection is now the next big milestone that most enterprises are now aiming at. People are looking at digitizing the collection processes over the next 18 to 24 months. 

Internet penetration is increasing, and companies are reading some user data. The same is the case in rural areas. By 2025, we will have more rural internet users than urban ones. These are very enabling factors for MFIs.

How do you see the MFI sector shaping up? Will there be a consolidation where only a certain number of players would survive? Or the market is large enough for more and more players to come in?

Vivek: India is a big country. We need more microfinance institutions on the ground. As of now, we have 53 institutions. 70% of microfinance is controlled by small finance and universal banks in India. 

The demand is huge. But we’re not able to meet those demands. If you look at the microfinance map of India, almost 80-85% of loan customers are microfinance customers. And this is excluding the rural customers, who are underserved. 

I see that at least 200-250 MFIs are required to serve the entire country. India is a big country with almost 700 districts. To meet the demands, we need at least one microfinance institution per two to three districts.

Purvi: The household debt compared to the GDP in India is about 11%. While in the mature markets, like the US and China, it is close to about 50%. So, there’s a huge gap. At least, in the next 5-10 years, I don’t see growth as an issue. We have enough opportunities, and we have enough to do.

What changes do you foresee on the product side? How do you see the group loan concept shaping up?

Vivek: In place of joint liabilities, i.e., groups, you’ll find common collection points. Especially in rural areas, people come to a common place for awareness, education, and likewise for collections. It reduces the cost of collection and information sharing. 

But if we expect to be paid by one group member from the other members, there may be some limitations. As a theory, using our limited liability groups, where the liability of a group member is limited to up to just 10% of tenure of 3 or 4 only. We don’t want to pass the responsibility of bad customers on to good customers. At the same time, we don’t want to lose our good customers because of the bad ones. 

We’ve started improving the group lending model. In some way or other, the group will be there for the next 5-10 years because it reduces the cost of operations and brings transparency to the system. 

It also brings us to the actual underwriting process. We underwrite by just using the group guarantees. Because we know how much they trust each other. However, enforcing the joint liability of the collections will be a challenge. And to which extent we’ll be able to do so—we, as an industry, will have to find out. 

Audience poll: Have you automated your credit underwriting process?

Poll - Have you automated your credit underwriting process

Purvi: The aspiration of the middle class of the 90s is now the aspiration of the customers we are servicing today. As microfinance institutions, we prefer to be available to them at every stage of their lifecycle requirements. 

It may be starting from a small group-based loan where they borrow 20-30,000 rupees because they are not capable enough or do not have the credibility. Then they can move to very focused loan products. For example, buying a mobile, television, two-wheeler or education loan, or affordable housing loan. 

So, the loan product is going to evolve. And hopefully by then, in 10 years, we would have created enough credit records for them to move to the next level.

What are the digital interventions to reduce fraud?

Purvi: With customer apps, customers or family members can easily check the latest balance, the number of paid MLs, or the last EML credited to their account. It may not completely eliminate the fraud but can reduce it to a great extent. Because the staff is well aware that a customer can view the statements like money is not credited. You also have an option to directly connect with the customer in case of any query. 

Vivek: There have been ghost loan frauds in the past, where companies would create false loan agreements and collect cash disbursements from banks. Today, such frauds are not possible. 

At our institution, we send SMS to borrowers immediately after the collection meetings (if they’re not paying us today). At the end of the day, we remind them that today was your due date, and you have not paid your installment. In case they’ve paid the installment, they would call the loan officer at grievance numbers, and we track them immediately. 

Whether they’re paying or not paying is one thing. What really helps is—the smooth flow of data from the branch office to the head office. We can track every account in just a fraction of a second. So, when the data is there, tracking becomes very easy. 

During the pandemic, many of our field officers left us. One original business died in summer in Rajasthan, and almost the entire branch had left for 15 days. However, replacing the entire branch and tracking every borrower was not challenging for us. With the help of geotagging, we were able to reach out to customers from the next day onward. From 100% meetings, our collections were almost on track. 

The pandemic also tested our digital capabilities. We are almost paperless and cashless in our operations. Our 95% of collections are digitized as of now. Almost 30% of customers paid directly from their account to our account, either through biometric readers, which are being carried by our loan officers, or through apps like Paytm, MobiKwik, etc. 

The chances of fraud have been reduced significantly on the ground. And even the monitoring has become easier. By using the word search, we can monitor our branches. If I want to track a supervisor, I need not travel at all. We can connect remotely, comfortably. 

The technology has reduced operating costs and brought more transparency on the ground. The issues that were there with microfinance before are not there today.

Audience poll: Do you use alternative credit scoring models in your underwriting process?

Poll - Do you use alternative credit scoring models in your underwriting process

Has your % spending on tech increased over the last five years? Do you see it going up as a % of loan book or profit/revenue metric?

Vivek: In our case, 1% is the cost of the digitization at Satya. And out of my 10% limit, almost 10% is the digitization cost as of now. If I’m able to bring it from 1% to 0.5%, I think my operating costs will reduce by 1 or 1.5%, and the net gain will be around 2%. 

Purvi: The percentage of your loan book is a good way to look at it. For a very short time, the cost is likely to go up. But you can also pick up sales and “pay for what you use” kind of models. So, you may not need to put a lot of money into capital investment. By paying on a usage basis you may not strain your expenses or balance sheet. Once you have your processes in place, productivity is bound to increase. 

Is the microfinance industry comfortable with cloud technology cloud systems? 

Vivek: Without a doubt, the cloud is the only option. Having our own server and keeping it on our own premises increases the risk and cost. The only thing is the regulators are asking for more information: how you are using it and what security measures you have taken. 

Audience questions

What are the successful loan amount ranges for LMI segments?

Vivek: EMIs up to 100 rupees per day is comfortable and manageable. When it goes beyond 100 rupees a day, it means they are moving through difficulties. 
Purvi: So that’s about 40,000 to 50,000 kind of a loan for 24 months.

Can we see an asset-like model with branches of micro banking like Zomato and Swiggy in the microfinance sector?

Vivek: For me, maybe after 10 years from today. For the next five or seven years, that is not the reality. But definitely, the potential is there.

Purvi: Currently, microfinance thrives on relationships, the comfort of the person visiting their houses and collecting the money, and conducting the meetings, which is not going to go away very soon. I agree that it will take some time to reach that level of operations.

Microfinance or any financial services is not a game of distribution. It doesn’t matter how efficiently and how quickly you can distribute money. The success lies in how efficiently you can bring the collections. How much can you collect on the due date? And how efficiently you can bring that money back into the system is the test of success for any financial service. 

Kalpana: Partnership with fintech companies can bring a lot of value. FinTech companies are promising loans within five hours. I think partnerships between 5 and 6 companies can begin new products, and we can service customers at a faster pace. 

Are tech enhancements of support functions such as audit risk important in the growth of an MFI?

Purvi: Just a small example, we have about 200 branches. Now, tallying the cash every day is a manual activity. It takes up a lot of time, and we run in shifts. We are right now contemplating the idea of putting bots instead of manual intervention. With this, we would be able to tally cash well within the turnaround time, and we will not be required to work a shift. Since it will be digital, we can pull reports on time. 

Also, for support functions like audits, you need not go to the field for checking every small little thing. You can geotag your branch the same way you geotag your customers. So, before you disburse loans, you can see how far the center is from the branch, which was earlier done manually by the auditors. Digitization is critical for both—disbursement and collections. 

Vivek: Remote audit is the best innovation so far. As an MD, I can sleep properly because the process governance and controls in the branches were properly taken care of by auditing. We have digitized cost movements. This is documented in our minutes. We don’t have any pain in closing the casebook at the end of the day. 

Do the MFI work on partnerships like the DSA model?

Vivek: As an industry, we don’t have a DSA model, we have employees, branches, and trained employees on the ground. With their help, we run our business. But on the other side, we work as banking correspondents for banks when the final approval of the loans is in the bank. 


Speakers

Purvi Bhavsar

Purvi Bhavsar
MD and Co-Founder, Pahal Financial Services

Purvi Bhavsar is a first-generation entrepreneur from Ahmedabad and Co-founder of Pahal Financial Services Private Limited. She has a prolific experience of over 27 years in the areas of BFSI and Telecom industry, having worked in many reputed organizations like Kotak Mahindra, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, and Vodafone India. She was recognized as one of the Top 10 women in Finance – 2020 and also is currently serving on the board of an affordable housing finance company.


Vivek Tiwari

Vivek Tiwari
MD, CIO and CEO, Satya MicroCapital Limited

Acquiring prolific experience of nearly two decades in the microfinance sector to promote financial inclusion, social entrepreneurship, and impact investing, Mr. Vivek Tiwari is the MD, CIO & CEO of SATYA MicroCapital Ltd – one of the leading NBFC-MFIs across the nation. He is also a member of Governing Board of MFIN (Microfinance Institutions Network) – an association for the microfinance sector in India. He is recently recognized as Promising Entrepreneurs of India 2021 on 28th September 2021 by The Economic Times.


Kalpana Sankar

Kalpana Sankar
Managing Director, Belstar Microfinance Limited

Dr. Kalpana Sankar is the Managing Director of Belstar Microfinance Limited, a leading microfinance institution, and also the Managing Trustee of Hand in Hand India since 2004. She was the first recipient of a scholarship to pursue an Executive MBA from TRIUM. She is the recipient of the “Princess Sabeeka Bint Ibrahim AI- Khalifa Global Award for Women Empowerment. She has also received the “Nari Shakti Puraskar-2016″ for the contribution to the empowerment of vulnerable and marginalized women.


Nilesh Patel

Nilesh Patel
Co-Founder and CEO, LeadSquared

Nilesh is the CEO of LeadSquared, a sales execution platform. He is focused on helping businesses in high velocity, high volume sales to improve their sales execution and increase sales efficiencies. He is on a mission to build LeadSquared as the software partner of choice for sales execution for businesses. Previously, Nilesh was the founder of Proteans, a recognized leader in the software product development services space. Nilesh has a degree in engineering from Delhi University, and before founding Proteans spent four years in IBM with their microprocessor test tools division.


Maybe you’ve relied on Google Ads for some time. And it’s working. You’re getting good ROI.

No? Maybe you’ve dabbled. Or possibly, you’re still contemplating taking the plunge.

Then, there are two ways to go: (1) wrestle with the beast yourself or (2) hire a resource who knows how to slay it.

In any and all of the above cases (and combinations), you’re unlikely to elevate your ROI in Google Ads unless you have a decent understanding of what’s what, what works, and what to do when your campaigns are falling short.

The overview I’ve written for you here should deliver some insights and tips you can apply to get a better return on investment from Google Ads.

Google Ads (real quick)

Google Ads is a digital advertising platform businesses use to promote products and services online. Google Ads offers two primary types of content: search ads and display ads.

Search ads are:

  • Text-based
  • Appear atop (and below) Google search results
  • Based on keywords

For an example, check out three search ads from UNC-Chapel Hill, Louisville and Temple University, triggered by the keyword phrase “MBA programs in the Midwest.”

In contrast, display ads are:

  • More visual
  • Found on websites
  • Highly targetable

Display ads appear on over 2 million websites within the Google Display Network, which comprises 90% of the entire Internet population, according to Higher Education Marketing Solutions.

Visitors from display are earlier in the conversion cycle than your Search visitors (who actively search for what you offer).

SOURCE: KLIENTBOOST

Here you see display ad examples by Universitas Indonesia. Each ad is branded and highly visual, appearing on Top Universities’ rankings webpage. Source: Education Marketing Solutions


How to create smart search ads

Write super strategic copy

Ad copy should clearly speak to your target audience’s needs and motivations. Carefully choose what to highlight, as search ads are limited to 300 characters of text.

Student personas are a key resource, offering insight into different students’ expectations. Take American University’s (AU) Online MBA search ad for example:

AU knows prospective online MBA students are especially interested in three things: learning Python, career advancement, and time efficiency. AU highlights these elements in the ad description, using concise and action-oriented copy. 

Use Google Ad extensions

Extensions are extra links that promote additional information, like phone numbers or web pages. Google extensions help boost visibility on search result pages and increase an ad’s clickthrough rate.

Common extensions include:

  • Call buttons
  • Location information
  • Links to parts of a school’s website
  • Links to marketing assets, such as program brochures


Extensions are free and can be added in your Google Ads account. Manual extensions require setup; automated extensions are managed by Google.

Choose your keywords wisely

Keywords are words or phrases used to match ads with common search terms. You can add keywords during campaign set-up, or after an ad launches.

Consider what students search for when researching schools. When selecting keywords, helpful questions might include:

  • What credentials are students seeking?
  • Do students prefer a specific geographic location?
  • What program criteria do students prioritize?

Use a tool like Google Ads Keyword Planner to evaluate a potential keyword’s search volume. Search volume helps determine which keywords are most popular—and effective. Additional research may also inspire new keyword ideas.

Specify your audience

Carefully consider the intended audience. The more targeted your audience, the greater likelihood your ads will reach quality prospects. 

For search ads, Google offers several demographic targeting options, including:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Household income
  • Parental status

Advertisers can select a combination of criteria in Google Ads. You can also target prospects based on location.

Best practices for creating display ads

Customize your content

Google offers several types of display ad options, including:

  • Static image ads
  • Rich image ads, which include interactive or animated elements
  • Video ads on YouTube
  • Text ads

Display ads are visual-based, allowing for more customization—and creative autonomy—than search ads. Schools can also leverage display ads for college branding.

Consider customizing ads with elements like:

  • Your schools’ color palette logo and typeface
  • On-brand photography
  • Branded GIFs

The Universitas Indonesia display ad (as a sidebar) uses the school’s brand colors and typeface, and a photo of students on campus. The ad also includes action-oriented copy and a call to action.

The UK-based Warwick Business School’s display ad (as a banner) uses the WBS logo and brand colors, as well as the school’s characteristic color gradients.


Include CTAs

Make sure to include a call to action (CTA). CTAs reinforce an ad’s primary purpose—driving conversions—by inspiring prospects to click.

CTAs should be:

  • Actionable (even urgent)
  • Easy to understand
  • Easy to find/see/click

Universitas Indonesia and Warwick Business Schools’ ads above go with a simple but smart “Find out more” call to action.

Make sure to link your CTA to a landing page and include a form to capture prospects’ contact details. Landing pages can help generate leads and encourage the next step in the admissions journey. 

Evaluate your targeting options

Display ads offer a greater variety of targeting options than search ads. Audience targeting options include:

  • Lifestyle, based on prospects’ online behavior
  • Placement, based on user-identified websites
  • Contextual, based on sites automatically selected by Google
  • Retargeting, based on prospects with demonstrated interest

Try mixing and matching options in Google Ads. Monitor your ad’s performance and optimize by testing different audience combinations.

Publishing your Google Ads

Google essentially conducts an online auction system to determine which ads populate the web. Google bases ad selection on three main factors:

  • Bid
  • Quality of content
  • Expected impact on audience

The bid is the maximum an advertiser will pay for each click. A solid bidding strategy is critical, as bids dictate where ads show up in search results. 

Schools can bid directly through Google Ads. To publish an ad, schools must also submit:

  • Target audience
  • Daily budget
  • Ad content

Hone your Google Ads strategy

Craft an effective bid strategy

After ad content and targeting parameters are set, determine your bid strategy. Begin by deciding the metrics you’ll use as KPIs.

Each metric supports a different advertising goal. Google offers three broad categories of bid types:

  • Cost per click (CPC) to drive traffic to web pages
  • Cost per 1,000 impressions (CPM) to boost brand visibility
  • Cost per action (CPA) to increase conversions

After bid type is selected, decide on the bidding method. Options include:

  • Manual bidding, where the advertiser bids on keywords
  • Automatic bidding, where Google bids based on budget

Link to landing pages

Google Ads for education should generally link to a landing page that offers an overview of the school. Landing pages should be as user-friendly as possible to keep bounce rates low. Tips include:

  • Limit text
  • Use bulleted lists
  • Include visuals and images
  • Go mobile-friendly

Landing pages should also include a way to capture prospective students’ information, via a submission form. Of course, you’ll use the contact information to follow up and cultivate relationships with prospects.

Armed with a prospective student’s contact information, you’ll use CRM to begin the lead nurturing process.

Use longtail and negative keywords

Longtail keywords are highly specific phrases targeting fewer—but more qualified—leads. For instance, “MBA program” will likely attract a higher volume than “Colleges in the Midwest with an MBA program,” with more general prospects. “Colleges in the Midwest with an MBA program” helps hone prospects interested in your specific location.

Also consider using negative keywords, which help filter out undesired traffic. For example, if you notice your keyword phrase “art schools in Canada” is also attracting job seekers, filter out the word “job.” Better targeting helps put ads in front of interested candidates and increase return on investment (ROI).

Google’s guide to negative keywords offers more details on how to implement them.

Optimize for mobile

In 2020, nearly 70% of web traffic globally came from mobile devices. To keep prospects engaged, higher ed marketers must adapt Google Ads for mobile.

Tips include:

  • Evaluate mobile traffic in Google Ads by segmenting by device
  • Adjust mobile bids
  • Use proper Google extensions for mobile
  • Ensure landing pages are mobile-friendly

For more, check out Google Ads’ guide to mobile optimization. Google highlights more key tips, as well as copywriting best practices.

Continuously evaluate performance

As campaigns run, closely monitor your ad’s performance. Six essential metrics to track include:

  1. Impressions
  2. Cost
  3. Clicks
  4. Click through rate (CTR)
  5. Conversions
  6. Cost per conversion

Set at least a weekly cadence for evaluation. Adjust ad copy, keywords, and bids to optimize conversions.  

Gain deeper insights

For deeper performance insights, also gather data through Google Analytics. Use an Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) code to link your ad to the Google Analytics platform.

UTM codes track user engagement across different digital channels, allowing you to evaluate conversions. UTM codes are free to create through Google’s Campaign URL Builder, which generates codes based on user-submitted criteria.

For a sense of what UTM parameters you’ll need, check out this snapshot of UTM creation in Google’s Campaign URL Builder by Higher Education Marketing Solutions.

Google Ads for education is an essential marketing tool for attracting new prospective students. Used in concert with organic content, Google Ads help drive hard-to-score conversions and elevate enrollment marketing.

If you want to build a practice your patients actually enjoy working with, your call center is an excellent place to focus.

By employing call center best practices, you’ll increase patient satisfaction, reduce costs, and help grow the business. Unfortunately, as anyone who’s had problems scheduling a doctor’s appointment or getting test results can tell you, a lot of healthcare call centers struggle to communicate effectively.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the communication challenges healthcare practices often face and how your call center can overcome them.

Communication challenges faced by the healthcare industry

80% of serious medical errors were the result of miscommunication between caregivers during patient handovers.

A Joint Commision study cited by HIPAAJournal.com

Another investigation by CRICO Strategies of medical malpractice cases from 2009 to 2013 found 30% of the cases were connected to communication problems, which resulted in 1,744 deaths and $1.7 billion in hospital costs.

Here are some common communication challenges in the healthcare industry that lead to these immense problems:   

Poor patient communication skills

Ineffective policies and procedures can prevent call center agents from properly communicating with a patient.

Maybe your call center isn’t making effective use of interpreters and your calls aren’t being resolved quickly because of language difficulties.

Your agents may be criticized for displaying a lack of empathy since they aren’t made aware of common problems patients go through with access to nutrition or housing.

Some staff members may get so comfortable using medical jargon they can’t explain a simple diagnosis in Layman’s terms. Patients are left scratching their heads when they hear they have “hypotension” (not just low blood pressure).   

Poor handling of medical data

Some of the most common communication failures happen when a patient gets handed over from one medical caregiver to another who isn’t properly briefed about the patient’s condition. The cause might be the patient’s medical data isn’t updated or shared with the right people.

If a patient’s medical data isn’t properly integrated into the EHR, communication breakdowns can result in costly delays and improper medical treatment.

What’s more, if patient data isn’t protected, it can be vulnerable to data breaches and lead to expensive lawsuits and corrective action plans.

Outdated communication equipment

While many health facilities support their call centers with customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, some still communicate with outdated tools like fax machines and pagers.

You’re at a disadvantage when it comes to managing patient calls and sharing patient information without the effective integration of CRM, EHRs, and mobile devices. The communication gaps can keep nurses and physicians from getting the right information at the right time and limit their ability to help patients.

7 best practices used by effective healthcare call centers

So, how can an effective healthcare call center increase patient satisfaction while avoiding costly medical problems?

Employ the following best practices:

1. Increase empathy in patient communication

Effective call centers are built on agents who know how to establish good rapport with patients and display empathy. Train your agents to:

  • Listen carefully to patient concerns
  • Maintain eye contact in face-to-face encounters or video chats
  • Be respectful
  • Understand patient priorities
  • Allow patients to ask questions

Call center agents also need to have comprehensive knowledge of the medical facility and staff in order to answer questions and direct inquiries to the right people. Familiarity with the call center software and the ability to communicate policies in Layman’s terms is vital for establishing good patient relations.

2. Update outdated communication systems

Adapting the best healthcare call center practices means using an excellent healthcare customer relationship management (CRM) platform to support your call center.

CRM software assists medical staff for making appointments, handling documents, sharing prescription information, and performing other patient-related activities.

Once healthcare CRM software is integrated into your overall system, medical staff can perform work tasks at any time from anywhere using mobile devices. The improved communication infrastructure enables multiple healthcare providers to work in tandem for the benefit of all patients.  

3. Offer patients multiple communication options

These days, people communicate through a lot of different mediums, including email, phone, video chat, live chat, and social media.

By offering patients the option to communicate with your call center through multiple channels, you increase the convenience and improve the patient experience. Options like video chat also offer easier ways to demonstrate medical procedures that might be harder to convey over an ordinary phone call.

It’s also important to maintain a constantly updated EHR that’s shared among call center agents. This ensures your agents know who they’re talking to and what information they need to provide, improving patient-staff rapport.

4. Integrate the CRM system with the practice management software

By integrating your call center’s CRM system into your front office’s practice management software, you can automate tasks including appointment setting, rescheduling, and sending out appointment reminders. This frees up your staff to offer better in-person support, lowers miscommunication, and increases the likelihood of patients showing-up for their appointments.

5. Monitor call quality

To ensure your call center service standards are being upheld, monitor call quality.  Record all inbound and outbound calls and make sure patient inquiries are routed to the right departments.

And don’t forget to ask for feedback from your agents! After answering hundreds of calls, your agents have a unique insight into what phrases work best for establishing rapport with callers and the type of terms callers understand the best. All of this can benefit your call center training and improve patient interactions with your agents.

6. Gather and listen to patient feedback

Offer patient surveys to gain their perspective on your call center. Discover what type of services, like automated appointment setting, they need the most. By listening to feedback, your call center can evolve in a way that’s mutually beneficial to staff and patients.  

7. Ensure your call center is HIPAA compliant

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 requires health care providers, organizations, and business associates to ensure the security of protected health information (PHI) being transferred, handled, or shared.

It’s vital that your healthcare call center be completely HIPAA compliant to avoid costly settlements and corrective actions. Ensure your staff is regularly trained to follow current HIPAA rules. Encrypt all data to prevent security breaches. And make sure your call center’s privacy policy for prohibiting the transaction of confidential information is enforced and made publicly available to your employees. 

Building an effective healthcare call center

The modern healthcare industry requires multiple medical caregivers to work in tandem while treating the same patient. This requires medical staff to have regular access to up-to-date information at all times. Improving call center policies and adopting an effective healthcare CRM platform helps improve workplace communication and ensures a healthier working environment.