Email marketing metrics don’t just help you confirm when things are going right. They also flag you when things aren’t going as planned so you can resolve issues quickly. This article covers several email marketing metrics you should be monitoring to help you closely align your forecasts with your results.
We also provide information about where to turn for additional strategies to improve the ROI of every email campaign you send.
Delivery Rate and Bounce Rate
One of the first email marketing metrics you’ll look at is your delivery rate. To calculate delivery rate, you take the number of emails sent, and divide it by the number of emails delivered. It’s important to recognize that delivery is different from deliverability. “Delivery” means your emails have been accepted by the receiving server. What you really want to know is your inbox placement rate because this takes into account the number of emails delivered to the inbox, as opposed to the spam folder.
On the flip side, bounce rate is the percentage of emails that weren’t delivered to your recipients. To get the bounce rate, you take the number of emails delivered and divide it by the number of bounces (hard and soft). Multiply that figure by 100 to express the result as a percentage.
Hard bounces occur when emails are invalid. Perhaps the email address went stale, never existed in the first place, or was entered incorrectly (typos). Sometimes, individuals purposely enter fake email addresses on web forms and those get carried over into your database. Regardless, when there are invalid emails in your database, the usual cause is poor data collection points and list hygiene.
To combat hard bounces, take steps to ensure that every email address you send to is verified and stays that way by:
- Using email list verification services to check the validity of current emails in your database
- Proactively verifying your email list at least every six months
- Leveraging a real-time API that verifies email addresses wherever you collect contact data (on web lead forms, at retail kiosks, in point-of-sale systems, etc.) to prevent typos and invalid or fraudulent emails from getting added to your list
Some soft bounces may occur because the recipient’s mailbox was full or the email server was down when you hit send. These emails may eventually be delivered to your recipients when the problem is resolved. But other soft bounces occur because the server rejected your email based on reputation, policy, or technical settings.
Advanced marketing insight: When a mailbox provider starts blocking your emails, it can stop customer engagement and lead gen in its tracks. Even if you mail with only good intentions, the bad players in the space hurt all senders. Spammers continually devise ways to get around the criteria mailbox providers look for to stop them. This forces mailbox providers to continually create new algorithms to prevent spam, which can lead to unnecessary flags of your emails. It is imperative to know your sender reputation, and identify and remedy the causes that contribute to your rejected rate (sent volume divided by reputation and policy-related soft bounces).
No matter how great your campaign message and offer is, it won’t do you any good if the email is never opened. To determine your campaign’s open rate, take the number of emails delivered and divide it by the number of emails opened.
Certainly, you need to know your open rate every time you hit send on a new email marketing campaign. But if your campaign is ongoing – such as a nurture campaign – or your email is an automatic response to newsletter subscribers or those who download your content, don’t fall prey to complacency. Check your open rate on a regular basis to make sure you’re still netting the expected results. Generally, weekly is a good frequency.
Advanced marketing insight: One of the important things to note about open rate is that it doesn’t mean your recipients read your email. One reason companies turn to Return Path from Validity is for valuable insight and email metrics that support more informed decision making. For example, marketers should know if recipients are reading their emails (read rate), deleting the emails without reading them (deleted rate before reading), or forwarding them to others (forwarded rate). Additionally, it’s valuable to measure opens per unique user. This can be a powerful email marketing metric in helping you identify strong engagement and viral marketing.
Click Through Rate
Not to be confused with open rate (which means they clicked to open your email), click through rate is the percentage of email recipients who clicked on a link inside your email. They clicked through to somewhere you wanted them to go. Perhaps, the link was to get more information about an offer or product, schedule a demo, or download a white paper.
Click through rate is determined by dividing the number of emails delivered by the number of click throughs. Something as seemingly simple as changing where you place your link in the email or the anchor text you use for the link can alter your click through rate. Test various options to determine what nets the best click through rate.
Advanced marketing insight: While clicks usually demonstrate recipients are interested in the content of your message, be aware that your click rate could include traffic toward the unsubscribe process. A more accurate metric to gauge responsiveness is to subtract non-positive clicks (such as web version, view terms and conditions, and unsubscribe clicks) from the total number of clicks.
You got them to open your email, they clicked on your link, and now they’ve completed the action you wanted. This is your conversion rate. To calculate it, take the number of delivered emails and divide it by the number of conversions (people who completed the desired action, such as filled out your form on the landing page to get your white paper). Multiply the result by 100 to get the result as a percentage.
Advanced marketing insight: Don’t assume a larger marketing list will net higher conversions. According to Marketing Insider Group, “Your campaign size may be big, but your conversion rate may be extremely small due to poor email list health. Research shows that open rates and conversion rates tend to fall as email marketing lists become bigger.”
It’s the metric no one wants to measure, but we all need to. To determine your unsubscribe rate, divide the number of emails delivered by the total number of unsubscribes.
Advanced marketing insight: Be aware that the unsubscribe rate can be a misleading email marketing metric without other factors taken into consideration. For example, a decrease in unsubscribe rates doesn’t necessarily reflect a positive increase in engagement. Sometimes you might be seeing a decrease in unsubscribes, but it’s tied to the fact that you are experiencing a decrease in inbox placement. Evasion rate (the number of clicks divided by the number of unsubscribe clicks) can be a powerful metric to identify disengagement.
Another email marketing metric marketers would love to avoid is complaint rate. Your complaint rate is the number of recipients who marked your email as spam (number of emails delivered, divided by total complaints).
Advanced marketing insight: Much of the time, spam complaints happen because of things that could have been avoided such as:
- Being unclear about who the email is from
- Using purchased email lists
- Not including a link to unsubscribe
- Sending too many emails or too much irrelevant content
- Not practicing permission-based email marketing (such as using a double opt-in approach for subscribers)
Take steps to reduce complaints and keep engagement high.
More Email Marketing Metrics You Should Be Monitoring
For the latest insight into email marketing metrics, request your copy of The 2019 Hidden Metrics of Email Deliverability. In this annual report, Return Path uncovers the benchmarks of seven engagement-based metrics you should be tracking.
And for more ways to improve your email marketing campaign ROI, join us for The State of Email Marketing, a webinar hosted by John Follett, Co-Founder of Demand Metric, and Tom Sather, Sr. Director of Research at Validity. It takes place on September 10, 2019, at 12 pm ET / 9 am PT and will be available on demand after that date. In this informative webinar, we’ll discuss the results of our 2019 Email Engagement Benchmark Study, which will be released the same day. We’ll cover:
- 8 strategies that will drive more engagement
- Which email tactics are working (and which are not)
- How to achieve a return on your email marketing investment
Register today. Even if you can’t make it, you’ll receive the recording, slides, and the full report after the event.