Jul 16, 2021

The most important email marketing metrics: 5 KPIs you should optimize for

15-MINUTE READ | By Carla Andre-Brown

Marketing Analytics

[ Updated Jul 16, 2021 ]

As marketing evolves and new ideas replace the old and redundant ones, the one question that keeps coming back to us is:

How important is email marketing today?

If you’re well-versed with email marketing strategy, you might have noticed how even the smallest tweak can improve your brand reach.

But email marketing can get tricky because it is not an active way to market your brand. It is not exactly upfront and you need to attract attention and action from the customers’ end to truly tell your story.

So, if you’re not sure your campaigns are making an impact, there are some ways to measure your email marketing efforts. This article should give you an idea of metrics you can keep an eye on and how to make your campaigns perform better.

Let’s dive straight into the email marketing metrics.

1. Open rate

Open rate is the number of emails that the recipient actually opens divided by the number of emails sent. It generally falls between 15-25% but also depends on the kind of industry you are dealing with.

To put things in perspective, here is a small example that tells you exactly how to calculate the open rate:

Say you have 200 subscribers out of which 100 have opened your email from a particular campaign. So your open rate would be:

100/200*100 = 50%

Open rate is a fairly simple and very effective metric. It is also one of the most reliable sources of information to measure your campaign performance. A low rate would mean that your campaign has not had the desired impact. 

So how exactly can you improve this rate?

Timing plays an important role

There are certain hours in a day that can actually fetch you better results. Perform A/B testing to rule out assumptions and give yourself a proper base to start your campaign. 

According to MailChimp, the best time to send out an email is 10 a.m. on weekdays. Weekends, especially Sundays, are generally avoided because let’s face it, no one checks their email over the weekend. 

Think about that subject line

Never, never start your email with something as generic as OPEN NOW!

With a subject line like that, there is a higher chance that the mail will find itself in the spam folder.

Instead, think about the subject line in a way the customer would because this is the first thing they will see. It needs to be catchy, coherent, and clear. Ambiguous subject lines might confuse people and no one has the time to go through the heavy-duty decoding process early in the morning. 

A very basic subject line might be good enough to catch their attention. 

Find the balance and start from there.

Here’s a taste of what works and what doesn’t:

Say you’re in the retail business and have a whole new collection, on sale. Here are a few subject lines for you:

  1. Buy the best of ABC now at amazing prices.
  2. Here here here! Sale of the year is here!
  3. Here today, gone tomorrow!

The first option is a generic one. It is dry, beaten, and will probably not garner the kind of attention you want.

The second line is straight-up tacky. It’s a little too eager without much else to say. Not to mention, it is lengthy.

The third line stands out. It is clear, captivating, and demands attention because it has set a time limit on the sale.

Develop content that stands out

With a catchy subject line, the chances of the customer opening your mail have already skyrocketed. The next step is to keep them engaged throughout by giving them good content.

Discussing the content of your email is a whole other can of worms. There are dozens of different types of content to experiment with. We’ll just quickly say it won’t hurt to make things personalized, incorporate dynamic storytelling, use mixed media like images and video, and have a strong CTA.

Now you might be wondering what’s the point of writing content when the battle is already won?

This is to ensure that you get consistently good traffic and a high open rate. Customers are more likely to open your emails if they liked the last one. Ensure you’re not wasting their time and provide value.

2. Spam rate

Spam rate is essentially the percentage of users who either did not receive your mail or reported your email as spam. Your whole email campaign is based on one action, which is the user clicking on the email. But what if your potential client never received the message in the first place? It can crumble your whole campaign and you’ll have to start from point zero. 

The spam rate is easy to calculate:

Say out of the 100 emails that you’d sent, 10 people reported your email as spam. So your spam rate would be:

10/100*100 = 10%

Getting your email marked as spam can be demoralizing, but there is light at the end of this tunnel. All you need to do is follow these quick steps to improve your spam rate and push your campaign:

Activate double opt-in

So you have decided to start a whole new email campaign targeting your customers. You have the whole database prepared, market research done, and you’re ready to roll it out. But when you do, your email goes straight to spam. This can happen because some recipients forgot they subscribed to your emails and decided that tagging them as spam would be easier.

Enabling double opt-in will ensure that your customers know that they are subscribing to your emails. It is a process where every subscriber is asked to confirm their subscription to your emails. 

Why is it important and how does it help?

It helps you direct your attention to genuinely interested clients. Some users will provide the wrong information or a spam bot will fill your subscription list with fake addresses. The double opt-in process makes sure only the subscribers who care about your company are on your email list.

Allow global unsubscribes

An underrated and often overlooked technique is enabling global unsubscribes.

Some users will unsubscribe from a category of emails assuming they’re off your mailing list. Enabling global unsubscribe can ensure the latter option.

Otherwise, a subscriber might tag your email as spam instead of unsubscribing from each mailing category at a time.

Pay special attention to the subject line

This is where you should devote at least 40% of your brainstorming efforts. When it comes to creating subject lines that do not sound or look like spam, there are few points you can pay special attention to:

  • Avoid all caps (SALE SALE SALE!)
  • Avoid excessive use of punctuation (DID YOU HEAR THAT???!!!???)
  • Avoid excessive use of symbols (WOAH BIG NEWS$$$$)

3. Bounce rate

Staying true to its operative word, bounce rate means when your email doesn’t reach the mailbox at all. A spam mail will feature in the list but a bounced mail means that either the email ID is not active or is simply fake.

It is calculated in a similar fashion by dividing emails bounced with emails sent and multiplying the combined ratio with 100.

Ideally, your bounce rate should be 2% or less but it varies between different industries. Also, there are two types of bounces that play a huge role in determining the rate:

Soft bounce

A server overload can cause a temporary bounce which is absolutely fine and normal. The internet is a volatile place and comes with its own set of ups and downs. A server will try many times to send the mail before labeling it a bounce. This is why soft bounce is not something you should worry about because in most cases, the mail does get delivered over time.

Hard bounce

A hard bounce doesn’t mean anything good because it affects your bounce rate. The mail comes back saying that the domain doesn’t exist or the email ID is incorrect. Such addresses shouldn’t be on your mailing list at all.

How to improve

A soft bounce rate of 2% or less is no cause for alarm. The same can’t be said for a hard bounce though.

So, what now? How would you improve your rate?

We have a few basic ideas that can go a long way so let’s jump right in.

Monitor your list

Clean out the email ids that are no longer in use. Keep a check on the subscriber list and try and determine if the IDs look fake or if the domains are no longer in use. 

Use a reputed service provided and healthy IP addresses. Be extremely careful of the spam bots sending in wrong and fake email IDs your way. Free wifi and lead magnets are great at providing you with email IDs. But they can also give you hoax IDs at times which will further hamper your bounce rate. 

Allow a double opt-in option where the subscriber has to confirm before subscribing. This is a great way to filter in potential customers and build an email list of people who are actually interested in your products.

A/B test emails

In email marketing, you can A/B test by dividing subscribers into two subsets and sending them two versions of the same campaign.

This is to help you understand:

  • What variation of the campaign is working better
  • Are there any hard bounces in either of the two sections of subscribers
  • If yes, which subsection is witnessing more hard bounces and why

4. Click-through rate

A click-through rate helps figure out if a customer is genuinely interested in your services. Or only skimming.

It is a rate that shows how many emails have finally led to one click from the customers. The formula remains the same: divide the number of clicks by the number of emails sent and multiply it by 100.

It’s good to exclude the bounced emails from the total number of emails sent before calculating the rate to come up with a more telling percentage.

Tracking the click-through rate helps understand if your campaign has generated engagement. It’s also a stepping stone in maximizing your conversion rate. This is why you should focus on improving the click-through rate. Here are a few tips to help you out:

Nail the preview text

We’ve spoken about how important it is to have a great subject line. A preview text is what comes after that. The text appears as a part of the mail along with the subject line which equally affects the open rate. A preview text is a great way to entice the subscriber into clicking your mail open. It’s the perfect way to aid their curiosity which is why it needs to be extremely engaging.

For instance, let’s say you have a line of vegan food products and you want people to buy them from you even though your rates are a bit over the market price. So what exactly do you write in your preview text? 

Subject line: A healthier lifestyle for a healthier you.

Preview text: Dear XYZ, are you as enthusiastic about saving the planet as we are?

Posing a question is the safest and most effective way of striking a conversation with a prospective buyer. Also, note how the text has a personal salutation. This brings us to the next point.

Categorize and add a personal touch

Not everyone is interested in saving the planet or embracing the vegan lifestyle. Some people survive on dairy, love their meat, and can’t do without a big slice of pizza. So would you direct your emails to them?

You won’t, because they are most likely going to go to their spam folder which is a big downer for your marketing campaign.

Therefore, always categorize and personalize your emails. Make sure that the information reaches the ear that wants to hear it. 

Work on your content

Your emails should be extremely engaging and worth the reader’s time. At the same time they should be of utmost value and something that they look forward to. Therefore you need to make them coherent and concise. How?

  • Use more images, GIFs, and icons
  • Format the email well
  • Proofread your email and pay attention to the design
  • Always maintain a flow of information that is relevant to your readers

5. Conversion rate

This is the culmination of your hard work and all the above-mentioned points. Imagine the horror of getting each of these things on point and then not being able to pull the right client into your sphere of services.

The conversion rate is another metric that determines the success of an email campaign. It is the number of potential customers that have become loyal buyers after reading your emails. This is the ultimate aim of your email campaign and strategy.

If your campaign has been able to convert 10 people from the 200 emails you’d sent, your conversion rate will be

10/200*100 = 5%

Regardless of the industry you’re in, the end goal is conversion. Here are a few ways of helping you achieve that dream goal, so pay close attention to these:

Segmentation is the way to go

Targeting the right people is the first base you need to touch. You might have the best brains in the industry working on a great email campaign but it won’t work on the wrong people.

Categorize your mails and send them to the people who will be interested in choosing your service based on that particular mail. Shooting arrows in the air won’t take you anywhere.

The flow of content is important

You need a well-defined subject line, a great preview text, and most importantly a catchy CTA button at the end. This flow is the holy grail of email marketing for bloggers and companies alike. If one falls, everything else comes crashing down.

  • The subject line will pique their interest
  • The preview text will make them click
  • The call to action button at the end will bring them to your website

Don’t go overboard with the length

While there are no rules associated with the length of the email, it is nevertheless important to never push the limit too much. Keep your information concise and direct, use infographics and images to convey the right information, and keep it short and sweet. It is a busy and fast world and no one has the time to go through a content-heavy email. It is as simple as it can get.

Choosing the right tool for measuring performance

A way to get email marketing strategies on point is to choose the right tools. This list has some of the top tools that can help you improve email campaigns and exceed sales targets.

  • Supermetrics. Whether you’re using Mailchimp, HubSpot, Klaviyo, or Salesforce Marketing Cloud as your email marketing platform, you can use Supermetrics to pull the email marketing data you’d like to analyze directly into a spreadsheet or Google Data Studio. The best part is that you can quickly get an overview of your email-generated revenue by also pulling data from your CRM or web analytics platform to the same report.
  • Bananatag. Bananatag helps streamline the way your email works. Its tracking is not limited to the conventional Gmail and Outlook servers. It also takes into account SMTP relay services and allows you to track your emails seamlessly on your unique email service provider. You can also track attachment files and schedule emails.
  • HubSpot. HubSpot email marketing metric tool offers varied services and affordable rates. You can use marketing and sales software and customize it according to your unique requirements. The tool tracks email engagement which can be automatically loaded onto the CRM. The latter makes the job twice as easy and convenient.
  • Mailchimp. Mailchimp is a popular and heavily used platform for email marketing. They cater to small and big industries and offer an end-to-end marketing solution. Mailchimp helps optimize email campaigns and track engagement. It offers market analysis which comes in handy while devising the campaign.
  • Benchmark Email. This tool comes with a great many pre-designed templates that make your emails extremely interactive. These templates are categorized according to the industry type and occasions and can also be coded from scratch or used as it is. It is a great way to save time and resources on design and concentrate on other metrics involved.
  • Mailbird. Mailbird is an email client that supports most email providers, so if you’re a small business against using a CRM or large scale email marketing platform, this is a solid option. Mailbird offers a unified inbox as well as a way to look at each email address individually. It’s also a great alternative to Outlook because it can integrate your social media inboxes as well. 

In conclusion

Email marketing might be the oldest trick in the book but it is still relevant in so many ways. It’s always a good idea to invest in the right tool that helps you take a look at what’s going wrong with your campaign and helps you improve on the stress areas.

At the same time, it also tells you what’s working well so you can direct your resources and attention to making it work better.

Now that you have all the secret information and the tricks of the trade, it is finally time to put those brains to work and achieve those goals.

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