It takes time to get email marketing right. It involves using email marketing best practices in every campaign you create, overcoming common rookie mistakes, and optimizing emails for increased engagement.
However, when push comes to shove, even if you execute the perfect email campaign, but don’t understand how to measure the results of your efforts, it’s all for naught.
Before you delve too deep into learning everything there is to know about email marketing, take a step back. Determine what your goals are for email marketing, and then decide how you will measure your success.
Of course, each email marketing campaign can be different, especially if you have different goals for different campaigns (e.g. generating leads and/or growing a subscriber base). However, there are some basic metrics every email marketer should learn how to track.
Here are the top 10 metrics every email marketer needs to track.
1. Open rate
Open rate is the simplest email marketing KPI, and vital to understanding how well your subscribers are receiving your messages. Open rate simply tracks how many subscribers opened the email you sent.
Open rates can give you insight into the success of your subject line copy. For example, studies show subject lines that use subscriber’ first names are 26% more likely to be opened. Other strategies like using emoticons in subject lines and keeping subject lines direct and short can increase open rates as well.
As a baseline, most email campaigns average an open rate of a little over 24%. If you manage a campaign with open rates higher than that, you know you are doing something right.
2. Click-through rate (CTR)
CTR is another common metric that can be telling of how well your campaigns are performing. CTR measures how many people clicked on the links in your email. For example, if you included a link to redeem an offer, the CTR would measure what percentage of subscribers clicked on your links.
When crafting an email, there are a few great ways to increase click-through rates. First, is to include links in the email everywhere it makes sense. Additionally, include a clear and easy to see call to action button that subscribers can click on to redeem your offer.
Click-through rates are typically much lower than open rates. The average click-through rate for most campaigns is slightly over 4%.
3. Conversion rate
Your click-through rate will tell you how many people clicked your link, while your conversion rate will tell you how many people clicked on the link and then completed a specific action. For example, let’s say you included a link for your subscribers to participate in a Black Friday sale. The conversion rate would tell you what percentage of people that clicked-through actually made a purchase.
Conversion rates are necessary to measure because they give you unique insight into your return on investment. When you know how much you have spent and how many subscribers are converting, it’s easier to determine if the money you are putting into your campaign is really paying off in the end.
4. Bounce rate
When sending an email campaign, you also want to track the bounce rate. Bounce rate measures how many subscriber email addresses didn’t receive your email at all. Soft bounces track temporary problems with email addresses and hard bounces track permanent problems with email addresses.
Measuring bounce rates against open rates will give you a more solid idea of the quality of your subscriber lists. If you have a high percentage of hard bounces, it indicates your list may be full of fake email addresses, old email addresses, or addresses with mistakes in them.
You can preemptively decrease your bounce rates by requiring a double opt-in. This means subscribers have to verify their email address and confirm they want to receive emails from your brand. This is a great option considering you want the quality of your email list to remain high and your bounce rate to stay low.
5. Number of unsubscribes
Measuring unsubscribes is pretty cut and dry. Any email provider will tell you how many people unsubscribed upon receiving an email from you. This is usually displayed in your main dashboard or your metrics dashboard.
It’s easy to get discouraged when you see a high number of unsubscribes. However, professional email marketers often count unsubscribes as a good thing. Why? Because it means you are fine-tuning your subscriber list.
Additionally, when you clearly give subscribers the opportunity to unsubscribe, and you should, it lets them know they have the choice what kind of content they receive from your brand and when. It’s an awesome way to build trust.
6. List growth rate
Now that we’ve talked about the people who, for whatever reason, don’t want to engage with your brand via email, let’s talk about those that do! List growth rate is the metric to track when you want to see the rate at which your list is growing.
You can calculate this by taking the number of new subscribers minus the number of unsubscribes, divide it by the total number of email addresses on your list and then multiply it by 100.
It’s natural to experience some attrition, which is why it’s important to focus on ways to continually grow your list, engage subscribers, and find new loyal subscribers.
7. Spam complaints
There is little worse than putting your talent and creativity into an email only for it to get marked as spam. Seriously. Talk about a bummer. You may want to ignore those that can’t appreciate a good email when they see one, but, unfortunately, you need to pay attention to spam complaints.
Why? Because if this rate gets too high, it’s possible your email service provider will take action against you and/or block your account. Email service providers want to ensure quality and tracking spam complaints is one way they can do it.
Your email service provider will likely track this number for you, but you may want to keep an eye on it yourself. That way, you can make sure you are ensuring quality, that nothing is technically wrong with your emails, and that your copywriting is on point.
8. Forwarding rate/email sharing
Forwarding rate/email sharing measures the percentage of recipients who either shared your post via social media or forwarded it to a friend.
This is an awesome metric to track because it gives you an idea of how many brand advocates you have. In other words, it tells you what percentage of subscribers are recommending your emails to others.
Developing brand advocates through email marketing is a great strategy, especially considering 81% of consumer’s purchasing decisions are influenced by friends’ social media posts.
9. Engagement over time
Tracking engagement over time will give you information on when the best times of day and times of day are to send messages. Of course, you can utilize automation in your email service provider to send emails based on a customer behavior or trigger, but tracking engagement over time will tell you when you get the highest open rates and click rates for emails that are not automated.
Some email service providers automates this feature and will gather the data for you. However, it’s not a bad idea to track this metric on your own and determine when the best send times are for your industry and for your subscriber base.
10. Overall ROI
Overall ROI is a metric every email marketer should track. It tells you the overall return on investment for your campaigns. This means the total revenue divided by the total spend.
You can calculate this by taking the money you made in sales from the campaign minus the money you spent to execute the campaign divide it by the money invested in the campaign and then times that by 100. That will tell you your overall ROI.
Email marketing can be an investment, but thankfully, it also has the highest ROI out of any digital marketing strategy.
There you have it. Those are the top 10 email marketing metrics every marketer should track. As you set up email marketing campaign goals, these metrics will help you measure your overall success as well as help you make necessary adjustments to your strategy.