The 80/20 rule is one of those deliciously consistent truths from the world of statistics. At its essence, the rule implies that 80% of effects are brought by 20% of causes. For example, about 80% of the comments on your blog come from about 20% of your audience. The rule is also referred to as the Pareto principle.
The power of the 80/20 rule is that it can force you to think more strategically about where you invest your time and effort. The trick, though, is that you first have to realize where this rule applies. There are several common places you can find the 80/20 rule at work in your email marketing
#1: Engagement and conversions
If you go to your email dashboard and run a report you are likely to find that about 80% of your opens come from about 20% of your audience. Dig down further and you might find that 80% of your clicks come from about 20% of your opens. Go deeper yet and you might find that 80% of your conversions come from 20% of the people who clicked.
Don’t expect your metrics to follow this principle precisely, because they won’t. That’s not the point of the rule. The point is to get you to realize that the largest chunk of your engagement is driven by a fraction of your audience. If you need to get more opens, clicks, or conversions, you can work to identify this 20%. Find out what makes them click and give it to them. Then, find out how you can convince the remaining 80% of slackers to join the elite fifth.
#2. SPAM complaints
When someone marks one of your emails as spam or junk, it leaves a black mark on your reputation as a sender. If you get too many black marks, your sender reputation falls into a ditch and takes your delivery rate with it.
You will likely find that about 80% of your SPAM complaints come from about 20% of your audience. You might even find this audience to be smaller, like around 10%, but the principle still applies. Find out what is causing this vocal minority to sully your name and either fix the problem, remove them from your list, or prevent them from receiving your emails in the first place.
#3. Design and production
Time management is another place you can apply the 80/20 rule. You will likely spend 80% of your time focusing on 20% of your email program. For example, maybe there is a monthly campaign that takes forever to plan and design, but the rest of your program is a breeze. Or maybe you spend 80% of your time creating content for your program and hounding coworkers to send articles for your newsletter. Or maybe you spend all your time in analysis and measurement.
A fraction of your tasks are likely eating the majority of your time. And just because you focus on them does not mean that they generate the majority of your results. The trick is to find the 20% of tasks that generate 80% of results and make sure that they are executed as well as possible.
Takeaway: The 80/20 Rule can be a useful tool to reframe your perspective, sharpen your focus, and produce desired results in your email campaigns.