How Effective is Your Email Marketing?

“Email is dead.” At least, you may have seen this dire (and incorrect) statement espoused by a few digital marketing “prognosticators” or even industry blogs. While it might seem inevitable that new communication technologies would eventually render it obsolete, email is still very much alive and kicking! 

Even with the rise of social media, mobile apps and text messaging, email remains a crucial digital communication channel, which is why email marketing can be one of the most effective ways to reach your audience and continually engage with them.

But how effective is your email marketing? To determine that, you need to start by defining and measuring your key email metrics.

5 Key Email Metrics and How to Measure Them

Email marketing metrics provide insight into how well your campaigns are performing, but only if you look at relevant ones. Start with standard engagement metrics, like open and click-through rates, but keep your overall business goals at the forefront of any success measurement. In short, did an email do what you needed it to do?

These five email metrics will give you a framework for making decisions on your email marketing strategy moving forward. For each of these, you can choose whether to compare only against yourself, over time, or against benchmarks for your industry.

1. Open Rate

Did your email subscribers open your email? The open rate gives you the percentage who did just that. Open rate indicates the effectiveness of your subject line, the name or email address of the sender and everything else in the “envelope” when your email lands in your subscribers’ inboxes. Email open rate is calculated by dividing the number of unique opens by the number of delivered emails and then multiplying by 100. A solid email open rate is generally 15-25%, but looking at industry benchmarks can give you an idea of what is a “good” open rate within your industry. 

2. Click-Through Rate

Did your email subscribers engage with your email? The click-through rate (CTR) helps answer that question. Click-through rates measure the percentage of email recipients who clicked any link within your email, whether in the body or footer or even a linked image. Determine the CTR by taking the number of unique clicks, dividing by the number of emails delivered and multiplying by 100. As CTR is a somewhat generic metric for gauging the performance of your email marketing, based purely on the volume of emails sent. Focusing on your click-to-open rate can provide a more detailed analysis of email effectiveness. 

3. Click-to-Open Rate 

Your click-to-open-rate (CTOR) tells you how many people opened your email and engaged with its content; it is the percentage of people who opened the email and clicked a link. Your email’s CTOR is determined by dividing the number of unique clicks by the number of unique opens and multiplying by 100. Unlike the CTR, which measures the email’s overall performance (how many clicks out of how many emails sent), the CTOR measures the effectiveness of the email content—did it drive your subscribers to action? The CTOR therefore provides greater insight into how valuable and relevant your email content is to your audience. 

4. Revenue Per Email 

Your emails are being opened, they’re sparking engagement, but are they generating revenue? Determine the revenue per email (RPE), sometimes referred to as revenue per recipient, by taking the total revenue generated by an email and dividing by the number of emails delivered. RPE measures the effectiveness of your emails at generating sales and is especially important for e-commerce companies hoping to generate direct sales.

5. Conversion Rate 

To determine whether email subscribers took the action you hoped for, look to your conversion rate—the percentage of subscribers that completed the desired action of the email. Your goal may have been for them to download a gated asset, sign up for a webinar, or upgrade from a free account to a paid subscription. The number of desired actions divided by the number of delivered emails multiplied by 100 gives you the conversion rate. What is a good conversion rate for email? That depends on your industry and audience and the actions you track. 

Comparing Your Email Metrics Against Industry Standards

To gauge your email marketing effectiveness, you may wish to know where your metrics land within your industry. Many sources publish benchmarks you can use as a reference, such as this benchmark report from MailChimp. Once you establish a baseline of performance for your emails, you may find your metrics come in below industry standards, or you may have already exceeded them! Don’t count either as a loss or a win just yet. Instead, strive to improve your metrics, whether that means reaching the industry average or rising above your own baseline.

The potential for growth and improvement can be determiners of email effectiveness in their own right. That means measuring the best metrics, improving upon those and tracking your emails for a complete picture.

A/B Testing Your Emails

Now that you have defined metrics to measure your email marketing, let’s look at ways you can improve performance. One way is through A/B testing. You can A/B test just about any element of your emails, but you should only test one variable at a time to make sure you understand what is impacting performance. Start simply with the subject line or send time. A tool like Subject Line Tester can give you an idea of performance on any or all of these before you send your email. Once you gather data on the basics, start testing email content, like the template layout or your call-to-action (CTA) verbiage on links or buttons. 

How to Track Your Email Effectiveness

While email engagement metrics can help you understand the performance of a campaign, they don’t tell you the full story. Email tracking is an important element of effectiveness.

Email Service Providers

Sending your emails through an Email Service Provider (ESP), such as Campaign Monitor, Mailchimp or Constant Contact, will give you access to and monitoring of all the standard email engagement metrics, with many ESPs also automatically appending UTM parameters to your emails.

UTM Parameters

UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) parameters allow tools like Google Analytics to report on website traffic generated by a specific email campaign. You can use this data to understand where people land on the site from your emails, how long they stay, and what goals they complete. An ESP will usually add UTM parameters based on campaign name, but you can also add custom parameters to control how the email data is shown in your analytics tools.

Marketing Automation Platforms

For a more holistic view of email effectiveness, consider using a marketing automation platform like HubSpot, Marketo, or Klayvio. These platforms track email performance, and can automatically tie back form fills and other desired actions to the source email. Even without a marketing automation platform, you can use a combination of email platform and website analytics tool data to calculate metrics like RPE and conversion rate.

Making Your Emails More Effective

When applied together, these email metrics and tracking tools paint a picture of what’s working and what needs to change. Ignoring this data can lead to negative results like lower subscriber engagement and higher unsubscribe and spam rates — all of which mean fewer conversions.

Your subscribers asked to receive communications from you, but it is your job to “listen” to their behavior. People’s interests are changing all the time, and your strategy needs to keep evolving with them. Use your email marketing data as the guiding light. It can be pivotal in taking your emails from good to great!

Need a hand elevating your email performance? Contact Bayshore Solutions to chat about how we can help take your email marketing to new heights.


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