In the first two parts of our explorative email marketing field guide, we went over deliverability, design, content and messaging. In the last, we’ll talk about a lesser known strategy that elevates your email game to a whole new level. It takes it out of the hands of artistry and into the realm of science – which executives will be thrilled about.

The often lesser known or even thought of tip to reviewing email marketing data is what happens after you’ve played defense. You’ve considered the four issues we’ve covered but what else can you do?

The answer is to go to the source.

There’s a very high chance you have no idea where your email url views or even your email subscribers came from. What did they see or how did they engage your brand in way that got them to look at the campaign or sign-up? To get to the bottom of this valuable piece of data, the core of successful metric analysis, you start by looking at the source.

This is where you start working backwards. If you were brilliant and had these measures in place, namely through an A/B campaign that tracked which version was released where, then you start with that data. If you didn’t do this, it’s not too late to start.

Start by looking at what content and social streams your email campaign is released on. Whether you’re using tracking tools or split campaigns, create versions that are released strategically in specific channels to see which ones perform the best.

Running reverse metrics to tighten up the next round of data that comes in will take a while. This isn’t something that’s done in a month; you’re looking at a 2-3 month campaign that involves several split campaign launches. You’re going to test out design, content and messaging – the three things we’ve reviewed in earlier parts of this series – to see what most impacts your audience.

What you don’t do is play with all three in one go. Instead, just like a science experience, you choose one variable to change each time and keep the rest constant as your conduct your experiment. Doing this with design, content and messaging across three different email launches, will yield two key pieces of data.

The first is knowing which of the three has the highest impact on your brand and audience. The second piece of info is seeing which channel had the highest visibility overall – was it your email list, a social media channel or something else? Knowing this last piece of info adds a new dimension to any future email campaigns. It allows you to tailor your entire campaign to favor the strongest channel.

By the end of the first quarter, you should have a full review of your metrics and performance to arrive at a thorough understanding of user behavior and data patterns. With this info, you can get out of the email marketing rut you were in and learn how best to move forward and plan content through the rest of the year.

A successful email campaign review will come out of the first quarter with a marketing strategy that envelopes all other key departments like creative, content, social media, client relations and sales. As you roll forward to bring these departments into the loop for how to navigate campaigns, make sure you’re hyper-focused on what needs to be done and how departments will collaborate between themselves in order to ensure the highest level of success. Make sure everyone is clear about the results and the agenda moving forward.