Explaining Email Marketing Metrics

Email Marketing Metrics

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What Email Marketing Metrics Mean For Your Campaign

Email Marketing Metrics

How much attention do you pay to your email marketing metrics?

Every aspect of your email marketing campaign can be tracked and measured.  In this blog post, we will highlight key email marketing metrics and the implications they have for your campaigns.

When looking through your performance reports, there are hundreds of metrics to consider.

But which ones should you take interest in?

Is there a single most important metric?

Can you get away with monitoring just one or two?

We thought we’d take a look

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What do you mean by ‘Metrics’?

We can talk for hours about email marketing best practices.  There are plenty of guides about how to build the perfect list of email contacts and how you can optimise your email marketing processes.

However, to make a success of your email marketing efforts, you need to know how to measure your campaigns.

That is where email marketing metrics come in handy.

A metric is simply a way that you can measure the performance of your email campaign.

For each aspect of your campaign performance, different metrics are available to you to measure performance.

Understanding the way that metrics fit in to your overall campaign performance can be confusing.

There are so many of them.

Metrics interact with each other.

The failure of one element of your email campaign can seriously hamper other aspects of its performance.

Metrics should not be viewed separately, each one fits into the wider performance of your email campaign in some way Click To Tweet

They are not stand alone indicators of success or failure.  Noticing significant improvements takes careful analysis of your campaign performance over time.

From the moment you hit ‘Send’, your email goes through many processes that culminate in its success or failure.

There is little value in sending an email marketing campaign if you aren’t getting results.  This makes analysing campaign results all the more important.

Find out what strategies and tactics make your emails a success, then learn to replicate them in the future.

Why not take a look at our short video on email metrics below for a quick overview:

Each stage of the process is different.

Successfully measuring your performance requires you to know exactly what you are looking for.

Analysing email performance allows you to make key decisions which allow you to improve future campaigns.

Analysing Email Marketing Metrics

The good news is that analysing campaign performance isn’t a resource-heavy task.  You can start analysing your email marketing metrics in a few easy steps:

Invest in A Reporting Suite

To analyse your email performance, you first need to tap into the power of an email marketing reporting suite.

Your email marketing system should allow you to look at key performance metrics in real time.  You can use these metrics to analyse your campaign in depth or simply to take a top-level overview.

Having access to real-time information about your marketing campaigns gives you the ability to quickly change and adapt campaigns to increase effectiveness.

Another useful way to measure performance is to review historic data.  This helps establish trends and predict future behaviours.

We suggest customising your reports to focus on the metrics that you want to track for each campaign.  Having easy access to key metrics saves time and helps you focus on the elements that matter.

Set Clear Campaign Goals

Before you can analyse your performance and declare a campaign successful, you need to identify what you are aiming to achieve.

Setting a campaign goal gives your campaign focus.  Measure your performance metrics against your expectations and decide whether your strategy has been successful.

Before looking at your campaign results, you need to know what metrics indicate success Click To Tweet

But aren’t they all important?

You could argue that all of the campaign metrics are important.  And you’d be right, to some extent.

However, depending on your goal, the importance of your metrics is likely to change relative to the result you need to achieve.

A well structured goal identifies how success will be measured and should note relevant campaign metrics.  This gives you something to measure your performance against once the campaign is complete.

Set Time Aside

The final consideration you need to make is to set time aside for analysing your campaigns.

We recommend planning a set amount of time after each campaign to review your processes. You can then identify any improvements you can make.

It is best to factor this into your schedule so that you don’t forget or overlook it.

Think of this time as an opportunity to learn.

Even as an experienced marketer, you can still gain lots of insights from your analytics data.

Why Analysing Email Performance Is Essential

Marketers are busy people.

Marketing Team Analysing Campaign Results

Do your marketing team make enough time to analyse your campaign results?

It can be tempting to skip over the analysis stage in a rush to create your next killer campaign.

But, how do you know when your campaigns are succeeding when you don’t take the time to look at their performance?

The answer is that you can’t.

There are no shortcuts to success – Malcolm Gladwell

Creating email campaigns without looking at how your previous campaigns have performed means you are trying to second guess your recipients.  You can’t possibly know which tactics are the most effective.

Such a careless approach rarely results in long-term success.

Defining Key Email Marketing Metrics

There are hundreds of different email marketing metrics that you can analyse.

Sure, the rate of social sharing of an email campaign might have a slight knock-on impact to your overall results but is it really important?

Here are the ones you need to track:

Email Delivery Rate

If there is a single most important email marketing metric, this is it.

If your campaign doesn’t arrive in the recipient’s inbox, it won’t perform.  Although it is not one of the most glamorous parts of an email marketers job, the delivery rate needs to be resolved before any other steps are taken.

Email delivery rate is calculated as:  Total Number of Emails Sent/Total Number of Emails Delivered

All marketers should aim for a delivery rate of 100% as this means that all intended recipients receive the email campaign.

However, this is sometimes not possible due to soft bounces, or temporary problems with the email delivery. Reasons for soft bounces include a full inbox, a temporary issue with the email server or issues with the email file size.

You shouldn’t worry if you see a small number of soft bounces.  It’s perfectly normal.

Hard bounces are more problematic.  These can become a serious cause for concern if they are not dealt with quickly as they are permanent issues affecting email delivery.  Reasons hard bounces occur include:  Non-existent domain name, non-existent email address and unknown email addresses.

Having a low email delivery rate can be detrimental to your sender reputation.

To optimise email delivery rates, perform regular data hygiene checks to ensure that the contact list you are sending to is up-to-date.

Spam Rate

Spam complaints happen.  They are a part of every email marketers life.

Minimising them is easier once you have an understanding of their underlying causes.  You can then understand how you can go about improving your email campaigns.

The spam rate indicates the percentage of email recipients who flagged your email campaign as spam.  Both your data hygiene and the email content can impact spam rates.

Having a high spam rate has a negative impact on your sender score.  This, in turn, detracts from your email delivery rates as your email address may become blacklisted.


To reduce your email spam rates consider:

  • Segmenting your contact list to deliver more targeted content:  The more targeted your email marketing campaigns are, the more relevant it is to the recipient.  Segmenting your contact list allows you to hone in on the exact contacts you need to message.
  • The quality of your email content:  Having low quality or repetitive email content will quickly become boring for your subscribers.  Make sure that each of your email campaign delivers good value and is different to the last.
  • Your email subject lines:  Don’t make your email subject lines sound too desperate.  Make sure you communicate the value of your email campaign in the subject line and demonstrate how it is relevant to the recipient.  This reduces the chance that they will mark your emails as spam before they open them.

To calculate the spam rate:  Total Number of Spam Complaints/Number of Emails Delivered x 100

Unsubscribe Rate

Your unsubscribe rate determines the rate of attrition from your contact list.  To maintain a healthy contact list, aim to keep your unsubscribe rate lower than 1%.

You can often predict when somebody is ready to unsubscribe from your email campaigns by looking at campaign engagement.  If your contacts have previously opened and clicked on the majority of your email campaigns but fail to engage with your content for a few months, this can indicate that your content is no longer relevant to them.

Think about the value of your content.

If you receive a high number of unsubscribe requests, take a look at your content strategy.  Consider whether you are delivering on the promises you made when they first signed up.

Don’t take offence at a high unsubscribe rate

Use it as a learning curve and adapt your content approach, tailoring it to the needs of your contacts.

We also recommend allowing your contacts to change their email preferences.  Instead of unsubscribing, your contacts then have the option to change the type of email they receive from your company.  This may not prevent all of your unsubscribes but will help in the long term.

To calculate your email unsubscribe rate:  Number of Contacts Unsubscribed /Emails Delivered x 100

Open Rate

The open rate determines the performance of the email in the inbox.

Once your campaign has been opened, it has the opportunity to perform and encourage the user to perform a desired action.

To optimise an email’s open rate, focus on the elements that can be viewed in the inbox.  These include:  The Subject Line, The Preview Text and the From Name.

Your email open rates also concern factors outside of the email itself including:

  • Frequency of Email Send:  We recently discussed how you can use an email preference centre to ask your contacts how frequently they would like to be contacted.
  • Time of Email Send:  Think about the time when your contacts are most likely to engage with your email campaigns.  There is little point in sending your emails in the middle of the night when your contacts are likely to be in bed.
  • Day of Email Send:  Look at your performance data to identify the best day to send to your contact list.

To calculate email open rates use the formula:  Emails Opened/Emails Sent – Number of Bounced Emails

Click-Through Rate

The click through rate is the percentage of email recipients who clicked on a link inside of the email campaign after the email was delivered.

Email Marketing Metrics Click through rate

Do you monitor email click through rate?

Having a high click through rate is a positive indicator that your email drives people to take action.

Although this is often regarded as an important metric for marketers, it could be argued that the click-through rate relies on too many different elements within the email campaign.  The click-through rate is the combination of recipients who have both opened and clicked on your email campaign.

As a result, you cannot specifically optimise your email campaigns for click-through rate.

However, it can be used as a general guide to how your email campaigns are performing.

To calculate the click-through rate:  Number of Unique Clicks/Number of Emails Delivered x 100

Click-To-Open Rate

Perhaps one of the most revealing metrics is the click-to-open rate.  This percentage is the clearest demonstration of the effectiveness of your email content.

Emails can’t convert on their own.  You need your email recipient to take action, generally on a landing page or your website.  This requires your recipient to click through from your email campaign.

As this metric is calculated as a percentage of those who opened the campaign, it specifically reflects the campaign content within the email.  This differs from the click-through rate which also considers email recipients who did not open the campaign.

Many email marketers reason that the structure of your email content has the biggest impact on the number of people who click.  Placing your call to action at the bottom of an inverted pyramid structure helps funnel your reader from the top to the bottom of the email content.

Focusing on the copywriting techniques that you use can also improve your click-to-open rate.  Your content needs to compel the recipient to take action.

This drives a higher percentage of clicks.

To calculate your click-to-open rate:  Click Through Rate/Email Open Rate x 100.

Conversion Rate

Your email’s conversion rate is the percentage of people who received the email who then went on to perform a desired action.

Having a high conversion rate relies on more than simply creating a well optimised email campaign.

For your email to convert, the email’s landing page also needs to perform.

Email Marketing Landing Page

Is your landing page fully optimised?

According to the Marketing Insider Group, you can expect to see different conversion rates based on the type of email you send:

  • Newsletter:  1%
  • Order Follow Up:  5%
  • Inactive Customer:  2.6%
  • Abandoned Cart:  5%
  • Member Follow Up:  2.7%

Statistics are based on at least 100 email sends per category of email

On first viewing, these statistics appear disheartening.  What’s the point in sending an email if less than 5% of emails, on average, trigger a desired action?

Even with these apparently low conversion rates, email marketing has the highest return on investment of any marketing channel.

Each of the conversions measured in the statistics above have the potential to be of high value.  By optimising email campaigns over time, marketing teams can ensure that they have the highest conversion rate possible for ecommerce campaigns.

Return On Investment

On average, email has the highest return on investment of any marketing channel.

Email Marketing Metrics Return On Investment

Email Marketing has a ROI of £30 for every pound spent on the marketing channel

For every pound that marketers spend on email marketing, they gain the highest return from email campaigns.

To calculate your return on investment, use the formula:  Return on Investment = (Total Profit)/(Cost of Investment) x 100

To increase your return on investment, you need to optimise each part of your email campaign to make the most out of your marketing budget.

Why You Shouldn’t Analyse Email Metrics in Isolation

There are some email marketing metrics that can make or break an email campaign, we don’t think any of them can be judged as a measure of campaign success on their own.

Although individual metrics are often powerful indications of your performance, looking at them in isolation risks missing the bigger picture.

It is important to think about how each of your campaign metrics interact and impact your campaign performance as a whole Click To Tweet

It’s much more helpful to think about your email metrics in groups.

They each contribute towards your campaign success, ultimately leading to a high return on investment.  As a result, you should take a look at inbox metrics as a whole.


Email Marketing Metrics In groups

It is better to analyse email marketing metrics in groups


Here are some of the problems you might encounter when looking at metrics in isolation:

The Paradox of A High Unsubscribe Rate

Nobody likes to see a high unsubscribe rate.

Losing your contacts can be demoralising but if they aren’t engaged in your emails they offer no value to you.

Don’t be sentimental about it.

Losing your contacts can be demoralising but if they aren’t engaged in your emails they offer no value to you.

Don’t be sentimental about it.

They are consuming valuable sends.

If your contacts aren’t opening, clicking on and converting from your email campaigns then you need to consider whether you are connecting with the right people in the first place.  Seeing a high unsubscribe rate over a prolonged period of time is concerning.

Don’t lose heart.

If you do have a high unsubscribe rate, you should review the way that you are generating leads for your business.

Build an engaged email marketing list.  Even with a small list of engaged contacts, you can start to see an improvement with email performance.

Make sure that each marketing campaign is highly specific and targeted.

Sending a campaign to your whole marketing list is likely to be ineffective if your list is more than a handful of contacts.

Make sure that each marketing campaign is highly specific and targeted.

Sending a campaign to your whole marketing list is likely to be ineffective if your list is more than a handful of contacts.

Considering Low Unsubscribe Rates

Low unsubscribe rates are also problematic.

A low unsubscribe rate may also be an indication that you have an issue with your email delivery rate.  If your emails aren’t getting through, none of your contacts will have the opportunity to unsubscribe.

To combat this issue at the source, create a preference centre which allows your contacts to specify what content they would like to receive and when.

Why A High Open Rate is Potentially Unhelpful

Monitoring your open rate in isolation isn’t going to get you very far.

Sure, it demonstrates that your email preview text and subject line have worked.  Yet, we would suggest that it’s a weak indication of overall performance.

Whilst a high open rate means that your email is standing out in the inbox, it doesn’t show you how well your email content is performing or how many people are taking action.

A high open rate is only positive if the other elements of your email campaign are performing.  A high open rate is only useful if it is supported by a high click through rate in the email campaign.

A Note About The Halo Effect

Although it might be difficult to measure, your email doesn’t have to be opened to successfully spur the recipient into action.  When the halo effect is in action, the presence of the email in the inbox alone is enough to trigger the desired action.

This gives marketers a headache.

This clearly demonstrates how a high or low open rate can be misinterpreted as a signal of campaign performance.

Looking at the Bigger Picture

Benchmark your average email performance.  This allows you to identify any significant shifts in performance before they become a problem.

Before you dedicate your time and resources into improving a single aspect of your email campaigns, you should be asking yourself whether the results will justify your efforts.

Benchmark your average email performance so that you can identify any significant shifts in performance before they become a problem.

Benchmark Email Marketing Metrics

Benchmark your email marketing performance to help analyse individual campaign results

The pinnacle of all email marketing metrics is Return on Investment.  Focus on the changes that you can make that help you achieve the biggest improvement in your bottom line.  Without a high return on investment, all of the other email metrics become irrelevant.

Whilst you can optimise for every single email metric, decide what matters most on a campaign-by-campaign basis.  The fundamentals remain the same.  You need your email to be delivered for it to have any chance of performing.  There is a fair chance that your email won’t have the impact you want if it isn’t opened.


Analysing your email marketing metrics gives you the insights you need to optimise future email marketing campaigns.  Paying close attention to email performance pays off.

Decide which goal you want to achieve, how you are going to measure it then optimise your campaign.

However, the rest is up to you.

Decide which goal you want to achieve, how you are going to measure it then optimise your campaign to achieve it.

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