Jun 25, 2019

5 Key Email Metrics You Should Be Tracking

by Digital Marketing Institute

Email marketing is one of the best ways to reach current customers, reminding them of who you are, what you have to offer and how you add value to their lives, even when they aren’t making a purchase. As with every other area of your business, tracking success is critical to improving as you go.

Use the following metrics to assess the success and health of your email marketing efforts. Benchmark your data and work to improve month-over-month until you have it down to a perfectly executed science.  

Metric: Unique Opens

“This is the number of people who opened your email once—it doesn’t count duplicate opens.”

This is the purest form of open rate data, allowing you to get a clear picture of how many people opened the email—whether they did anything after opening it or not. What does this number tell you? It provides insight on two specific areas:

  • How enticing your subject line is. Your subject line tells the subscriber what to expect in your email—if it isn’t enticing, they won’t open the email.
  • How engaged and interested people are with your brand. If you send too many emails, or not enough, this rate may be low because people aren’t connected with your brand in this format (versus social media or direct marketing, for example). If you send too many, the opposite is true, and they may be sick of seeing messages from your brand.

Once you’ve benchmarked your unique open rate or total unique opens with your own historical data or industry averages you can begin improving. Here are a few tips for boosting unique open rate:

  • Express exclusivity or time sensitivity in the subject line. This makes subscribers think they might miss out on something, which drives them to open.
  • Use numbers in the subject line, which we are more attracted to because numbers are easier to process.
  • Personalize the subject lined based on geography (Our Favorite New Spot in San Diego!) or name (We have an awesome deal for you, Paige!). You can do this using merge tags in your email client.

Don’t forget to test your “From” address as well. Always use the name of someone, so the from says, “John Smith” rather than “John’s Computer Company.” The latter will deter people right way because it makes it seem like a sales email.

Metric: Click Throughs

“This is the number of people who clicked a link in your email.”

Often represented as Click Through Rate, this metric is critical—it answers the question: Are people engaged with our emails? Are we sending information that causes them to take an action? Because every email client provides you with this data, the key isn’t calculating it, but tracking and making changes based on what you’re finding.

To track properly, start with your benchmark, which can be based on industry averages or your own averages up until this point. Each month, head to the analytics dashboard of your email client to collect the top five and bottom five emails and ask yourself:

What did each group have in common? What did the top performing emails have that the lower performing emails didn’t?

Use this data, and the following tips, to start improving this metric:

  • Send the right amount of emails: Hubspot found the sweet spot correlation number of emails sent and click through rate for B2B and B2C companies.
  • Make your links more enticing: Test different CTA styles, like a button, image, anchor text or direct link. Don’t forget to test link location and color with these tips from Constant Contact.
  • Make your emails more interactive: Embed videos into your email to boost click-through rates by 65 percent.

Metric: Total Number of Forwards/Forward Rate

“This number tells you how many people forwarded your email to someone else.”

If your goal is to build brand impressions and attract new customers, this is an important metric to track: “A high forward rate shows strong subscriber engagement and indicates the content you’re sending is relevant to not only your subscribers, but also their networks,” according to Return Path’s Metrics Benchmark Report.

Not to mention, a whopping 44% of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional email—the more people see your emails and associate them with your brand, the more likely they are to eventually make a purchase.

Benchmark this with your own historical data and a simple calculation:

Total number of emails forwarded/total emails sent x 100 = forward rate

Once your benchmark is in place, it’s time to test. What do emails with the highest forward rate have in common? It’s likely to be the content of the email, rather than the subject line, so start there. Test the various elements, updating your data every month. Slowly you’ll build the blueprint for a highly shareable email that you can use over and over again.

Metric: Email-generated Sales

“This number tells you if your efforts are driving revenue.”

You send all types of emails, many of which have the goal of generating sales. However, if you aren’t tracking this metric, you’ll never know what works and what doesn’t. Tracking email-generated sales is often as easy as appending each URL with a Google Analytics UTM.

Platforms like Shopify and Woocommerce can also integrate with most email clients, allowing you to track without any extra effort—just connect the two programs with an API key and check your dashboard for data.

With tracking in place, it’s important to separate out your types of sales emails so you can see which is most effective. Here are a few specific types of sales emails to track:

  • Coupon/Discount Emails: Coupons can bring in upwards of $29,000 monthly revenue alone, according to a recent CouponBox survey. Segment these sales out from the rest to see if email is an effective means of delivering these discounts and driving sales.
  • Themed or Seasonal Sales Emails: These are a great way to encourage timely purchasing; if the numbers show that they drive a lot of revenue, consider how you can add more to your email marketing plan.

When analyzing these numbers consider the subject line, email design and CTA–all of which affect whether someone buys or not.

Metric: Bounces

“This number tells you if your emails are making it to subscribers’ inboxes.”

This metric is critical because you can be penalized for too many hard bounces, but not all bounces can be troublesome. In most cases, bounces are qualified as hard or soft. Knowing the difference between the two, and how to improve this metric, is important for your list’s health.

A soft bounce means the person’s email address is valid, but for some reason it couldn’t be delivered—their inbox is full, the message is too large for their inbox, or the server is down. This is okay and common.

A hard bounce is what you need to be careful with. This occurs when a message is rejected because the email isn’t valid or it doesn’t exist. If you continue sending to email addresses that get a hard bounce, your reputation of the email and IP address you send with could be flagged as spam. This can cause a significant decrease in deliverability, which means less people receive your email because their provider, like Gmail, filters it out as spam.

To avoid any issues with bouncing, and to keep your bounce rate low, make sure your lists are clean at all times. Scrub them monthly, manually removing old addresses. Some email software clients will do this for you, making it even easier to maintain and avoid penalty. You can also email subscribers once a quarter asking them to update their email address.

Compare your average bounce rate to these industry averages to see if you need to be worried about this metric.

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