Email Marketing Metrics: Everything You Need to Know

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” –
Peter Drucker. 

It’s the same for your email marketing campaigns.

But what many marketers don’t realize is email marketing
metrics go beyond open rates, click-through rates (CTRs), and
unsubscribe rates.

In fact, these won’t help you see how email impacts your
business performance.

So in this guide, we’re going to look at all the key metrics
you need. The ones you see in your email marketing platform
dashboard, and the ones you can only calculate yourself – once
you know the costs and have defined what conversions look like to
you.

Know how you compare

Before we dive into the metrics, I’d like to invite you to
bookmark a handy resource.

is our quarterly email statistics report with expert analysis
– so you know when to send, personalize and tweak your emails for
better engagement and performance.


email-marketing-benchmarks-report

Metrics to monitor

Below are the most important email marketing metrics you should
track. We’re always updating it. So if you think it’s missing
something, let us know in the comments below.

It’s a long list. But you can click the quick links to jump
ahead.

Note: Different email marketing service
providers may have their own ways of calculating these metrics. The
following formulas are something I’d like to refer as a
“standard” way of measuring your email campaigns’
performance. To be sure that you’re comparing apples with apples,
I’d suggest that you compare the metrics using one single tool or
analytics dashboard.

Key email marketing metrics:

  1. Open rate
  2. Click-through
    rate
  3. Bounce
    rate
  4. Unsubscribe
    rate
  5. Complaint
    rate
  6. Click-to-open rate
    (CTOR)
  7. Conversion
    rate
  8. Signup
    rate
  9. Churn
    rate
  10. Subscriber
    retention rate
  11. Average revenue
    per email sent
  12. Delivery
    rate
  13. Deliverability
    rate


 
 

1. Open rateWhat is it?

Email open rate is simply how many times subscribers opened your
emails.

It’s shown as a percentage, and is calculated by dividing
emails opened by emails successfully sent (excluding those that
bounced).

Here’s how you can calculate your open rate:

Email open rate = (# of email opens / # of emails delivered) *
100%

How is it tracked?

To track email opens, most email marketing providers embed a
small transparent image or 1×1 pixel into your emails.

The host server then records the ‘open event’ when the
browser or client request to download the image.

That means an open only counts if your recipient opens the email
and enables images – or clicks a link.

So it can be tricky to get a truly accurate rate, since some
people only open the text version, and some email clients block
images by default.

Why does it matter?

Some say email open rate matters more than any other metric. It
tells you how many people looked at your message – and are
interested in your offer.

But some marketers say the open rate is a vanity metric. It’s
nice to look at, but it doesn’t show the campaign’s impact on
your bottom line.

Despite the pros and cons, it’s still important to know and
pay attention to your open rate.

It highlights your reach, and is an easy way to compare
campaigns – such as those sent to different customer
segments.

What’s a good rate?

Many things can affect your open rate. And a ‘good’ rate
varies between countries, industries, companies, and even
individual campaigns.

But there are two benchmarks you can look at:

1.
average rates in your industry

2.
average results in your country

See how different industries compared in Q2 2018:

email-marketing-statistics-by-industry


Back to top ↑
 

2. Click-through rateWhat is it?

Email click-through rate (CTR) tells you how many times the
links in your emails were clicked.

Expressed as a percentage, it’s calculated by dividing
recorded clicks by the number of emails successfully delivered.

Email click-through rate = (# of email clicks / # of emails
delivered ) * 100%

How is it tracked?

Most email marketing providers track the CTR with a tracking
domain.

It’s automatically added to any email with a link. When the
subscriber clicks the link, they’ll go to the tracking domain
first – and then be redirected to the destination URL.

Why does it matter?

The CTR is probably the most important metric to keep an eye
on.

Sure, it doesn’t reflect your campaign’s monetary value. But
it’s a good indication of engagement – and tells you a lot
about your campaign quality.

Bear in mind some campaigns (like transactional emails or
privacy policy updates) aren’t designed to get a lot of clicks,
since there’s no call to action.

Keep this in mind when measuring your campaigns, so you don’t
compare apples and oranges.

 

What’s a good rate?

As with open rates, many things influence the clicks your
campaign generates.

Sometimes you’ll see CTRs of 10-20% – especially for
automatically sent campaigns that call for instant action. Such as
a welcome email, with a download button to get a lead magnet you
signed up for (like an eBook).

But typically, click-through rates range from 2-6% across all
campaign types.

Of course, some industries will see lower rates – even when
businesses get a great return on investment from their campaigns.
These include travel and real estate, as people don’t book
holidays or buy houses every other week.

Here are the top five industries for CTR from our (Q2 2018).

top-5-industries-ctr-email-marketing-results


Back to top ↑
 

3. Bounce rateWhat is it?

Martin Schwill, Deliverability Manager @GetResponse, says:

Bounce is what happens when emails don’t reach the recipient,
or are returned to sender.

Why do emails bounce? It could be the recipient’s restrictive
filters or full inbox – or an incorrect email address.

To calculate your bounce rate, divide the number of bounced
emails by the number of sent emails. That is:

Bounce rate = (# of bounces / # of attempted sends) *
100%

There are two types of bounces:

A hard bounce happens when your email is
permanently rejected (because the recipient’s address is invalid
or doesn’t exist) and the receiving server is unlikely to ever
deliver it.

A soft bounce happens when the email reaches
the recipient but bounces back (perhaps because their mailbox is
full), but there’s still a chance future emails will be
successfully delivered.

Why does it matter?

Your bounce rate can give you deeper insight into deliverability
issues due to technical glitches, a poor sender reputation, or
problems with your list or content.

 

What’s a good rate?

Your bounce rate should be as low as possible. But since some
influences are out of your hands (like when a recipient’s inbox
is full), it’s virtually impossible to reach 0%.

Sometimes your bounce rate will go up. Like when you change
email service provider without updating your SPF and DKIM DNS
records – and suddenly send large volumes through new IPs.

Or if it’s been a while since you contacted your customers,
and you go on a sending spree (say, over a million messages in a
day).

Your bounce rate can also rise if an ISP is down or has a
technical glitch.

The key takeaway here is ISPs have different anti-spam filters
to prevent users from receiving unsolicited content.

Your sender reputation – and how subscribers interact with
your emails – will also affect deliverability.

Think about how you collect signups, manage list hygiene (how
you deal with users who bounce, unsubscribe, complain, or don’t
engage), and design and send your campaigns. Because all these
elements can affect your bounce rate.


Back to top ↑
 

4. Unsubscribe rateWhat is it?

The unsubscribe rate tells you how many people clicked the
unsubscribe link (usually found in the footer) and opted out of
future sends.

Usually, your email marketing platform will automatically attach
the link to your emails. But you can also add it manually with a
system link or ‘merge tag’.

unsubscribe-link-getresponse

In GetResponse, you can place an extra unsubscribe link anywhere
by pasting the merge tag [[remove]]

When the message is sent, the system automatically changes the
code into a unique unsubscribe link, so we can track and remove the
person who opts out.

To calculate the unsubscribe rate, just divide unsubscribes by
delivered emails.

Unsubscribe rate = (# of unsubscribes / # of emails delivered)
* 100%

Why does it matter?

The unsubscribe rate can give you a better understanding of your
campaign performance – and if your contacts like what they
get.

GetResponse and some other email marketing providers offer you
an ‘exit survey’. This is shown to people after they opt out,
to help you see ways to improve your sends and keep customers
longer.

The survey options are:

  • Doesn’t apply to me
  • I didn’t give my permission
  • Too many emails sent from this list
  • Too many emails in general
  • Content is irrelevant
  • Other

post-unsubscribe-survey-getresponse

You can use the data to decide whether to change how often you
send, what you send, or to improve the signup process.

At the same time, it helps your email provider assess your
campaigns and check they follow email marketing best practices –
like when collecting consent.

What’s a good rate?

Your unsubscribe rate will fluctuate, as it depends on things
like how often you send campaigns.

However, anything above 0.5% should alarm you. If you spot
unusual unsubscribe levels, take a look at your latest lead
generation strategies and most recent campaign.

There are many reasons why it could happen. Someone might be
intentionally adding emails to your list – which would likely
also spark higher complaint rates.

Or maybe you launched a more ‘aggressive’ campaign. If so,
weigh up whether the conversions and ROI outweigh the cost to
attract new contacts.


Back to top ↑
 

5. Complaint rateWhat is it?

Also known as an ‘abuse complaint’ or ‘spam complaint’,
this is when someone reports an email as spam – either by
clicking the ‘mark as spam’ feature in their inbox, or
contacting you directly.

GetResponse tracks all reported spam complaints, to help
maintain our strong sender reputation and optimize your
deliverability.

Each complaint is processed via Feedback Loop, which lets you
know your email was marked as spam.

Here’s how to calculate your complaint rate:

Complaint rate = (# of spam complaints / number of attempted
sends) * 100%

Why does it matter?

Your complaint rate gives greater insight into your list
quality, opt-in system, and whether subscribers like your
content.

Of course, you want to keep this as low as possible. But the
data can be useful.

And each day, be sure to check that subscribers who complain are
immediately unsubscribed from your list – so you comply with best
practices and laws.

What’s a good rate?

The best rate is the lowest one possible. But bear in mind it
can depend on the market or niche you’re in.

In some countries, customers tend to ignore or simply
unsubscribe from email they no longer want.

Some markets have more skeptical subscribers, who are quick to
mark emails as spam.

Either way, you can keep your rate low by inviting contacts to
unsubscribe – or remove them yourself if they’re no longer
engaging.

There’s nothing worse than following best practices and then
having your messages marked as spam – or being forwarded to
anti-spam services.


Back to top ↑
 

6. Click-to-open rate (CTOR)What is it?

The click-to-open rate is key to evaluating your list quality
and email relevancy.

To calculate it, simply divide total clicks by total email
opens.

Click-to-open rate = (# of email clicks/ # of email opens) *
100%

Why does it matter?

You can use the CTOR to greatly enhance your email
campaigns.

If you have good open rates but low click-throughs, your CTOR
will also be low.

This might mean your subject line was more interesting than the
content – or it was misleading.

Or it could hint your email design needs tweaking – say with a
bolder call-to-action button or better images.

Going a step further, you could compare the results across
customer segments to see if they behave differently.

The same goes for comparing the CTOR for new and existing
customers.

If your message is something subscribers have seen before, your
CTOR will likely be lower for that group.

What’s a good rate?

It’s impossible to say. Ideally, it’ll be 100%. But that’s
unlikely – unless you offer something in your first email, and
recipients have to take action to get it.

Be aware some subscribers tend to open everything they get,
because can’t stand unread emails in their inbox.

This is a problem because despite opening your emails, they
might not read the message or be in the mood to buy.


Back to top ↑
 

7. Conversion rateWhat is it?

The conversion rate shows you how many people act on your
message.

It’s calculated by dividing actions taken by emails
delivered:

Conversion rate = (# of actions / # of emails delivered) *
100%

Why does it matter?

Conversions are critical, but also problematic.

The challenge lies in how you define a conversion.

It can be anything you want. How many times someone places an
order on your site, registers for a webinar, or goes to a landing
page and fills in a form.

So it’s different for everyone. And yet, it’s important for
all.

What’s a good rate?

Again, this depends on what a conversion is for you – as well
as the type of campaign you run, and your business or industry.

If possible, assign a monetary value to your conversions. Then
you can decide whether to repeat the campaign, or go a similar
route in the future.


Back to top ↑
 

8. Signup rateWhat is it?

This tells you how many website visitors join your email
list.

It’s calculated by dividing total signups by total
visitors.

Signup rate = (# of email signups / # of total visitors) *
100%

Why does it matter?

The signup rate shows how well you attract visitors to a landing
page (such as via a PPC campaign) – and whether the page and
signup form do the job.

Both can affect your signup rate. So once you know yours, you
can look at what to improve.

For example, is your PPC campaign attracting low quality leads
that don’t convert? Perhaps you selected an audience with a low
cost per click, sending mobile visitors to your site…which you
forgot isn’t mobile-friendly.

Or maybe you reeled in the right people, but your landing page
form asks for too much information.

As you can see, it’s worth measuring your signup rate. Just be
aware of all the things that can influence it.


Back to top ↑
 

9. Churn rateWhat is it?

Your churn rate is the percentage of subscribers who leave your
list in a given period.

It’s calculated by dividing the amount of people who leave
your list (because they unsubscribe, mark you as spam, or bounce)
by your list size.

Churn rate = (# of subscribers who left your list in a given
time period / # of subscribers you currently have) * 100%


A word about bounces: Not all email
marketing providers remove these contacts. Some only remove hard
bounces, while others also delete those that bounce regularly.

To get an accurate churn rate, remember to count contacts
removed from your list.

Why does it matter?

Very few marketers track their churn rate. But you should know
it – even if you only measure it once a year, or every
quarter.

Churn rate tells you how fast subscribers leave your list. It
also predicts how quickly you’ll “burn through” your
database, if you keep things the way they are.

Armed with this insight, you can decide if you want to adjust
your strategy. Say, by sending emails less often – or tweaking
how you attract subscribers in the first place.

Be aware there are two types of churn rates: transparent and
opaque. See
Pam Neely’s article
for a great explanation of both.

We’ve already covered transparent churn. These are the people
who voluntarily leave your list – via an unsubscribe link,
marking it as spam, or bouncing.

Opaque churn is a bit trickier, as it includes people who
“emotionally unsubscribe”. They’re on your list, but don’t
see your emails.

Why is opaque churn harder to handle?

Because disengaged people on your list can negatively impact
your deliverability rate.

ISPs like Gmail look at your engagement when filtering email. If
you continue sending it to people that don’t respond, the ISP
might stop letting it through.

To avoid that, set up an
automated re-activation campaign
or get in the habit of
reengaging or removing inactive contacts.

What’s a good rate?

You’d think the lower the churn rate, the better. But that’s
not always true.

Some business choose to run more aggressive email campaigns. For
instance, they send lots of follow-up emails in a short time…

Source: Marketing Blogs
Email Marketing Metrics: Everything You Need to Know