In the world of email marketing, data is your compass. As a small business owner, CEO, or Head of Marketing, understanding and interpreting email metrics is crucial to navigating the digital landscape effectively.
Let’s walk through 9 essential email metrics, explaining how to measure them and — more importantly — how to interpret them. No matter what goals you’re striving for, from boosting engagement to educating your audience with valuable content to increasing your revenue from the email channel, find out what to measure so you can create and implement a WINNING email marketing strategy.
How to Measure it: Your email open rate is calculated by dividing the number of opened emails by the number of delivered emails, multiplied by 100.
Interpreting the Data: A high open rate indicates compelling subject lines and a strong sender reputation. Conversely, a low open rate may suggest the need for subject line optimization or better targeting toward smaller segments based on your audience’s actions.
Email open rate benchmarks vary by industry, so shooting for 20-40% will work for most businesses. The best way to measure how you stack up is by comparing your current open rate to what your business has seen in the past and striving to raise your opens to help you meet your email strategy goals in the future.
How to Measure it: CTR is the percentage of email recipients who clicked on one or more links contained in any single email you send. Calculate it by dividing the number of clicks by the number of delivered emails, then multiplying by 100.
Interpreting the Data: CTR is an excellent way to measure how engaged your readers are and helps you understand how engaging your email content is. The higher the clicks, the better! But be strategic. Make sure you’re enticing them to click on something valuable (like a link to book a call), and always test your links before sending your email to ensure they work!
A low CTR could mean your content or offers aren’t resonating with your audience. Try switching up your calls-to-action and where to click (for example, add a bright-colored button rather than a hyperlink) to see what works best with your readers.
The benchmark for CTRs in emails is between 2-5%. Aim as high as you can — as long as you’re giving your readers what they expect (and want).
How to Measure it: Conversion rate is the percentage of email recipients who click on a link within an email and complete a desired action. If you’re earning revenue from your emails, this is where you’ll track the revenue! The conversion rate is calculated by dividing the number of conversions by the number of total emails delivered, multiplied by 100.
Interpreting the Data: Conversions are a top metric to track to determine the success of your email marketing. Conversions show the effectiveness of your email in driving recipients to complete a specific goal, like making a purchase or signing up for a webinar. If you’re not seeing the rate of conversions you desire, here are a few things to look into:
How to measure it: Divide the number of direct replies to your email by the total number of delivered emails, then multiply by 100.
Interpreting the Data: A high reply rate means your content resonates with your audience — so kudos if you get replies! It also shows the ‘bots that you’re sending relevant content to people who want to hear from you, which positively impacts the future deliverability of your emails.
Replies are a strong indicator of your email’s effectiveness in relevance and personalization.
How to Measure it: Bounce rate is the percentage of your total emails sent that could not be delivered to the recipient’s inbox.
There are hard bounces and soft bounces.
A hard bounce indicates a permanent reason your email couldn’t be delivered (if the email address doesn’t exist or the recipient’s email server has completely blocked delivery). In most cases, hard-bounced email addresses are cleaned from your audience automatically and immediately.
Soft bounces typically indicate a temporary delivery issue. Your ESP may continue to email these contacts (for up to a certain number of sends) before taking action to remove them from your list.
The bounce rate includes both — and is calculated by dividing the number of bounced emails by the total number of sent emails, multiplied by 100.
Interpreting the Data: A high bounce rate may indicate it’s time to clean old addresses off your list, or it could mean there are issues with your email server.
High bounce rates — anything over 2% — are worth noting and can negatively affect your sender reputation (as well as future deliverability).
How to Measure it: The unsubscribe rate is the percentage of recipients who unsubscribed from your email list after opening an email. It’s calculated by dividing the number of unsubscribes by the number of emails delivered, multiplied by 100.
Interpreting the Data: While some unsubscribes are expected, a high rate can indicate content that is not relevant or engaging to your audience.
**Don’t confuse unsubscribes with spam. Spam is much worse. If your reader marks your email as spam, it has a big negative impact on your deliverability. (Contrarily, unsubscribes don’t hurt your sender reputation.)
How to Measure: The list growth rate is the rate at which your email list is growing. Calculate it by subtracting the number of unsubscribes and email bounces from the number of new subscribers, divided by the total number of email addresses on your list, multiplied by 100.
Interpreting the Data: It’s important to keep growing your email list over time. People will unsubscribe (and that’s okay — bless and release them!), so you must continue to find new leads interested in your brand/business.
List growth helps you gauge the effectiveness of your list-building strategies and overall interest in your brand.
How to Measure it: Your spam complaint rate is calculated by dividing the number of spam complaints by the total number of emails delivered, then multiplying by 100.
Interpreting the Data: If your recipients mark your emails as spam, HOUSTON, YOU HAVE A PROBLEM. This metric is critical for understanding how your emails are perceived.
If you have a high rate of spam complaints, it will damage your sender reputation and negatively affect future deliverability. It’s a sign to review and adjust your email content, frequency, and audience targeting.
Digging back out of the spam folder is not easy… so it’s best to prevent your emails from ever going there in the first place.
(Note: not every type of business tracks revenue per email, so if your email goal is building relationships — not selling — don’t worry about this!)
How to Measure it: Calculate this by dividing the total revenue generated from an email campaign by the number of emails delivered.
Interpreting the Data: Revenue per email shows the direct financial impact of your email campaigns. It helps you understand which types of emails (promotional, informational, etc.), offers, calls-to-action, and messaging are most effective in driving sales.
If you find that you’re not hitting your revenue goal, try changing up one of these aspects. But remember, only change one thing at a time (so you’ll know what’s working, rather than guessing which change led to better results).
Interpreting email metrics is more than a numbers game; it’s about understanding the story behind the data. Each metric offers insights into your audience’s preferences, behaviors, and reactions to your email content. By regularly analyzing these metrics, you can make informed decisions to refine your email marketing strategy, ensuring it aligns with your business goals and resonates with your audience.
When it comes to email metrics, the goal is not just to collect data but to use it to create more meaningful and effective email campaigns. By doing so, you’ll improve your email deliverability AND strengthen the connection with your audience, driving growth and success for your business.
Want better email open rates, higher conversions, and more profit in your pocket? Yeah, you do. Learn how to improve your email game in this guide.
Good vibes only, promise.