Email Marketing Metrics You Should (and Shouldn’t) be Tracking


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There’s a lot of different approaches to take when it comes to achieving a successful email marketing program.

For some, daily discounts work. For others, long journal-like emails are the thing.

The key is to test your approach until you reach the desired result.

Before your next email send, stop and ask yourself: What is the goal of my email marketing? What am I optimizing for?

From there, the metrics you’ll need to track will reveal themselves.

To get your brain thinking in that way, here are the key metrics you should be tracking.

1) Revenue From Email

Essentially, is your email marketing helping you sell things? Sometimes you need to pull away from the weeds and think of the big picture like this.

Using behavioral analytics in an email marketing platform like Klaviyo, you can see down to the person-level if the people who open your emails are buying things. Additionally, you can offer specific coupon codes through email campaigns and judge based on the number of coupons redeemed what the sales result of that campaign was. Whether it’s directly or indirectly, the goal of anything in marketing is to ultimately help boost sales. With that in mind, it’s clear why it’s critical to track email.

2) Click-through Rate

Click-through (CTR) rate is a popular email marketing metric among marketers because it helps you easily see the performance from each send and determine the success of A/B tests. And obviously, people can’t buy things if they don’t return to your site, so it directly impacts revenue. Analyzing who comes to your site through email marketing campaigns is important for this reason.

3) Conversion Rate

This metric is tightly tied to revenue. Are your calls-to-action and offers producing the right results? After an email recipient has clicked through on your email, the hope is that take the intended next step on your website – and usually that is to make a purchase.

4) Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is the percentage of emails that couldn’t be delivered to a recipient’s inbox. It’s important to keep track of this because whether or not the email even reaches your subscriber’s inbox determines a lot of other metrics like open rate, click-through rate, and revenue.

To fully grasp what this metric means, you should know the differences between “hard” bounces and “soft” bounces.

Soft bounces are the result of a temporary issue with a real email address, like a full inbox or a problem with the recipient’s server. Sometimes the person’s server holds emails for delivery once the problem gets resolved. Or, you can even try resending your emails to soft bounces.

Hard bounces are invalid, closed, or non-existent email address. You may have picked up a few from running a contest or daily deal. These emails will never be successfully delivered, so you should immediately remove them from your lists.

First of all, since most email service providers charge by list volume, you could be paying for emails that’ll never generate a return. You could safe yourself some cash and redirect your marketing budget elsewhere.

Additionally, internet service providers (ISPs) use bounce rates as an indicator of an email sender’s reputation. If you have a lot of hard bounces, your company can appear as a spammer from the point of view of an ISP. If you’re considering a spammer, none of your emails will hit anyone’s inbox.

5) List Growth Rate

Marketing isn’t just about optimization. In addition to metrics that help you assess the effectiveness of your campaigns for your current audience, you always have to keep one eye on the long term. Are you growing your email list?

There’s a natural 22.5% decay in email marketing lists each year, so it’s important that you’re not only replacing those old contacts but that you are scaling your business with fresh customers.

2 Metrics You Don’t Need to Obsess Over

It’s worth mentioning that there are also a couple of email marketing metrics that really aren’t worth tracking closely.

1) Open Rate

More opens are a great thing, but more clicks are even better.

Usually, an email is only counted as “opened” if the recipient also receives the images embedded. A lot of recipients have image blocking turned on, so they won’t be included in your open rate. This is why this metric can be misleading.

It’s best to consider open rate as something you compare to previous sends. Did the open rate drastically go up or down compared to past performance? If so, you know it’s worth taking a closer look.

The fact of the matter is that open rate is actually a very misleading metric for a few reasons — but most importantly, an email is only counted as “opened” if the recipient also receives the images embedded in that message. And a large percentage of your email users likely have image-blocking enabled on their email client. This means that even if they open the email, they won’t be included in your open rate, making it an inaccurate and unreliable metric for marketers, as it underreports on your true numbers.

2) Unsubscribe Rate

This metric is helpful if you view it through the right lens. But oftentimes, people are impulsive about an uptick or slip in unsubscribes.

When viewed appropriately, this metric can help you determine if you should offer more granular subscription options or if there’s an issue with your design that prevents it from rendering your design properly. As mentioned, there’s certainly a natural decay in your email marketing lists year over year. A drastic uptick in unsubscribes could signal a larger issue with your marketing strategy. Are you alienating your customers with your message? Are you sending too many emails?

The reality, however, is that any subscribers who don’t like your email marketing messages bother to go through the whole unsubscribe process. They’ll just ignore you. A low unsubscribe rate could give you false hope that your email marketing is working. This is why it’s better to focus you analysis time on engagement numbers like click-through rates and conversion rates. If those are slipping, you can address issues that’ll improve those metrics along with solving anything potentially increasing unsubscribes.

Key Takeaway

Focus is a virtue, and that applies to how you analyze your business. “Measure everything” isn’t actually the best advice in the world since most people follow it by spinning their wheels.

It’s better to be data informed than data-driven, and to decide what you measure based on the goals you have in mind.

What metrics tips do you have? Let us know in the comments.

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