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9 Email Marketing Metrics You Need to Measure

  • Email Marketing

Though simple in its approach, email marketing continues to get major results.

This is mainly due to the sheer volume of people who use email every day and their receptiveness to communicating with brands through this medium.

Recent HubSpot data found, “Active email accounts are expected to hit 5.6 billion by 2019, and 99 percent of consumers check their email every day.”

Furthermore, “59 percent of respondents say marketing emails influence their purchase decisions.”

It’s an amazing opportunity to connect with prospects, nurture leads, build trust and inevitably convert subscribers into customers.

But to get the most out of it and avoid needless mistakes, it’s crucial that you pay attention to certain email marketing metrics.

And that’s what I’m going to cover in this post. Here I’ll discuss at length the most vital email marketing metrics to analyze to increase engagement and conversions.

So let’s get right down to it.

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1. Deliverability Rate

Before you look at anything else, I suggest examining your email deliverability rate, which is the number of emails that make it to your recipients’ inboxes.

The higher your deliverability rate, the larger the percentage of emails are actually making it to subscribers. So you want that number to be as high as possible.

So what specific factors contribute to your deliverability rate?

According to Benchmark, these include:

  • Your IP address reputation
  • Sender reputation
  • Your email service provider
  • Email list quality
  • Email subject line

In some cases, subscribers may send your emails to spam.

2017 research from Return Path actually found, 13.5 percent of emails across all industries wound up in the spam folder.

Here’s a closer look at the spam placement rate by industry from this study.

Or delivery may fail altogether, and you may see a message like this.

Either way, it’s no good.

If you’re finding that your deliverability rate is lower than it should be— average inbox placement was 77 percent in 2017—you’ll need to identify the problem and correct it.

Some of the most common issues that hurt deliverability are:

Fixing these problems should help you get things back on track and ensure more of the emails you send actually make it to your subscribers’ inboxes.

2. Open Rate

This is simply the percentage of subscribers who open your emails.

Obviously, the higher the open rate, the better because it means more subscribers are taking the time to check out your content and see your offerings.

There are a ton of variables that determine your open rate with some being:

For instance, this graph from HubSpot shows how the number of monthly campaigns impacts the open rate, with 16-30 being the sweet spot.

And this other graph clearly shows that B2C companies enjoy a higher open rate than B2Bs.

While there are a myriad of variables that affect email open rates, the average across the board is 32 percent.

If your open rate is lower than average, it can greatly reduce the impact of your campaign and ultimately means only a small percentage of subscribers are reading your content.

In this case, you’ll need to do some sleuthing to figure out precisely what’s going on.

Some of the more common issues include:

  • Poorly written subject lines
  • Using spammy words (consult the list mentioned in the prior section)
  • Using aggressive spelling (e.g. too many capital letters and exclamation points)
  • Sending emails too frequently
  • Not properly segmenting email lists
  • Attaching files

Here are some examples of emails that would probably never be open due to these types of issues.

With a little tweaking, you should be able to resolve this problem and raise your open rate to a more acceptable number.

3. Click-Through Rate

An even more critical metric than the open rate is your click-through rate.

While open rate tells you how many subscribers clicked on your email and checked it out, click-through rate tells you how many actually performed an action and interacted with your email.

For example, the main CTA in this email from Ray-Ban sunglasses is to click on “Shop the Deals” where I can find sunglasses up to 50 percent off.

The click-through rate indicates what percentage of subscribers are clicking on the links within your email (usually to your website) and learning more about your products.

So as you might imagine, it’s one of the most critical email marketing metrics of all, as it helps you identify how much engagement your emails are receiving and affects your overall conversions and revenue.

Here’s the formula for calculating click-through rate:

(Total clicks OR unique clicks ÷ Number of delivered emails) * 100

In terms of an average, the 2016 Email Marketing Benchmark Study by IBM found it was 3.3 percent across all industries in the US.

If your click-through rate is greater or equal to that, it shows you that your content is likely engaging, people are responding to your offerings and you have an effective CTA.

Otherwise, if it’s considerably lower than that, you’ll need to work on improving these areas.

4. Conversion Rate

There’s a three-step process involved in making a sale through email marketing.

First, subscribers must open your email, which is measured by the open rate.

Second, they must interact with your email by clicking-through on a particular link.

These are the two points I just discussed.

And third, they must actually convert by purchasing whatever you’re offering on your site.

Here’s a simple example of how that sequence would go down.

First, I open an email in my inbox. In this case, it’s from Airbnb featuring “a perfect day in Virginia Beach.”

Next, I see an experience I’m potentially interested in—a “Heart of Norfolk Art Immersion.”

I then click on that to check out the full details on Airbnb’s website and ultimately check out the dates and make a purchase.

The final step would be the conversion—something you should keep careful tabs on because it provides insight as to what your ROI is.

In turn, you can decide whether or not the number of subscribers who are converting and the revenue they generate justifies the time and money you’re spending on email marketing or if you need to make some changes.

5. Unsubscribe Rate

This metric is simply the percentage of people who opt out from your email list, which lets you know how many people are ditching their subscriptions.

Here’s the formula for calculating your unsubscribe rate:

(Unsubscribed numbers / Email delivered) * 100

A certain amount of churn is normal and is to be expected with email marketing. In fact, recent benchmarks put the average unsubscribe rate at 0.02 percent across all industries.

However, most experts agree that anything below 0.05 percent is usually acceptable. But if you find that your unsubscribe rate is any higher than 0.05 percent, it’s cause for concern.

In that case, you’ll need to figure out what’s going on and if there’s anything, in particular, that’s causing subscribers to opt-out in such a high volume.

For instance, if you notice a sharp spike in opt-outs shortly after sending a specific email, there’s likely an issue that sparked the mass exodus.

Maybe it contained irrelevant content. Maybe it was overly salesy. Or maybe you overdid it by sending too many emails in a short period of time.

Whatever the reason, you’ll want to adjust your campaign to prevent making the same mistake in the future.

6. Complaint Rate

“The complaint rate is calculated as the number of ‘report spam/junk’ complaints out of emails sent,” explains Glock Apps. “For example, the 0.1 percent complaint rate is considered acceptable and often seen among good senders, but the 0.5 percent rate is already too high.”

There are several reasons why subscribers may give spam complaints.

They may have unknowingly subscribed to your email list, not recognized your email or thought a particular email was a phishing attempt. Or maybe they received a ton of emails and accidentally flagged your email as spam by mistake.

The scenarios are endless.

Regardless of the reason, your complaint rate is something you should be cognizant of.

And if it starts approaching the 0.05 percent mark, it’s something you’ll want to urgently address because it can negatively affect your deliverability.

“The complaint rate used to be underestimated, but the recent research shows that 20 percent of deliverability issues were caused by a lot of spam complaints,” Glock Apps adds. So it’s not something to take lightly.

Some of the best fixes include:

  • Using a double opt-in rather than a single opt-in
  • Using an easily identifiable sender name (e.g. your company name, your personal name or a combination of the two)
  • Not bombarding subscribers with too many emails
  • Making your unsubscribe link easily visible (some users will simply report a message as spam when they can’t easily unsubscribe)

7. Email Forwarding

Another great metric for determining engagement is looking at the number of times subscribers forward your emails to others.

If a particular email is forwarded numerous times, subscribers likely found it interesting or entertaining and felt there was enough value to warrant sending it to someone they know.

In this case, you would want to figure out what they liked about it and rinse and repeat.

You may also want to consider installing a forward button directly into your email to encourage more people to do this.

Here’s an example where the forward button is situated right next to the unsubscribe button for quick visibility.

While this won’t necessarily tell you the whole story, it’s a nice metric for assessing engagement.

8. Social Share Rate

You see social share buttons everywhere these days. They’re on blog posts, on website headers, navigation bars, and so on.

And many brands are now choosing to incorporate them into their emails as well.

Here’s an example.

And it’s not a bad idea.

If a subscriber is excited about an email’s offerings, they can quickly share it with their friends and followers.

If you add social share buttons to your emails, it’s a good idea to track the share rate. This is yet another indicator of engagement and can tell you which emails have been well received by the number of shares.

9. Revenue Per Email

The last of the email marketing metrics I’m going to discuss is arguably most important of all—revenue per email.

This really gets down to the nitty-gritty and lets you know straight up if your email campaign is having a palpable impact or not.

And with the average ROI for email marketing being $38 for every $1 spent, you definitely want to know how your campaign stacks up against the competition.

The formula for calculating this metric is as follows:

(Total revenue generated by your email campaign / Total number of emails successfully delivered)

Once you’ve got this number, you should have a good idea of the overall performance of your emails.

And by analyzing different campaigns and figuring out which ones were winners and which were losers, you’ll be able to fine-tune your future decision-making to gradually increase your overall ROI.

Free Downloadable Bonus

Want More Email Marketing Inspiration?

Let’s face it: writing good marketing emails is TOUGH. To help, we’ve put together an email marketing swipe file, including 41 email marketing examples (organized by category). Plus, a few other goodies not featured below (*cough* killer Facebook Ad examples *cough*).

Conclusion

There are a ton of different factors that determine how effective your brand’s email campaign is.

You’ve got everything from basic deliverability and open rate to more advanced metrics that impact profitability like conversion rate and revenue per email.

Having a firm grasp of the specific email marketing metrics listed here should paint a pretty clear picture of how well your campaigns are going and will let you know if anything needs improving.

Over time, this will help you optimize your efforts so that you can ultimately raise engagement levels and conversions for maximum impact.

How satisfied are you currently with the ROI of your email campaigns?

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