The biggest shock for me on an internal instructors’ course was to find that if it couldn’t be measured it wasn’t taught. It was only later, when I had children at school, that I found it to be the norm in primary and secondary education. This, to a degree, put me off statistics as a measure of quality but only after I discovered direct email marketing.

Many people might think that if a reader clicks through to the landing page, the one where they sign up for whatever it is you are offering, the work has been done and the sale sealed. Sorry to disillusion you, but that is not quite the case.

It would appear accepted wisdom that the figure one should regard as a true success is a 40% completion rate for those who have clicked through to finally convert. Or, to put it another way, loosing three out of five potential sales is pretty good going. The thought that might be going through your mind is why such a large failure rate should be acceptable.

The recipients have worked their way through your email, investing time and thought. Not only that but they have made a decision to go further. If they don’t complete, you must ask yourself what puts them off and where is the obstruction?

You should give as much thought to the landing page as you do to your email marketing campaign. Has the highly professional, and reassuring image created by the initial contact been destroyed by a slapdash creation? The landing page must support the tone of the email campaign although a direct copy is a non starter. See Same Difference for suggestions for the overall design.

The nature of the original email offer should be clear but a summary is all that is required. If, for whatever reason, some detail was excluded in the original email campaign then by all means carry on with the explanation but keep the detail precise. You have already got their interest. Don’t bore them.

Whilst this is the time to mention guarantees and other contractual matters, include just enough to cover the essentials. If they want chapter and verse, then provide a link. However, do not include links to non essential pages. Now is not the time to tempt them with a cheaper alternative.

Check the data capture form for ease of completion. There is little more likely to frustrate a potential purchaser than a whole series of seemingly impertinent questions. Limit the fields to as few as possible.

The email recipient / customer might be concerned with sharing so much information with strangers so an item or two from your privacy policy might well be enough to reassure them of your reliability. Be precise. Do not waffle on about being “fully aware of the responsibility of being entrusted . . .” etc. Go for a simple, straightforward statement. “We will not share your email address with any other company without your express permission.” is clear and definitive. Let them know where to find your full privacy policy.

Whilst a 40% completion rate may be the industry norm it must not be your target. All the effort you put into your direct email marketing should make you resent the perfidiousness of each and every one of the other 60%. Try and discover why the offer that intrigued the recipients so much that they made the effort to go further failed so close to the finish line.

One of the strengths of a direct email marketing campaign is the ability to follow a potential customer through each stage. But knowing where they stopped is just one part of it. You have to find out the reasons. To discover why they stopped at the landing page, why not go for more than one? Three that are subtly, or radically, different can give insight into your customers’ attitudes that no other form of marketing allows. If one comes back with a 50% completion rate and the others trail behind, then how much figuring out do you need to do?