Setting goals for your digital efforts is crucial in order to understand what works, and where you missed the mark. This is especially true for email marketers as we continue toward a privacy-focused world. Keeping customers who have signified they want to receive emails from your brand engaged and subscribed is essential for business.
In order to truly understand how your email marketing campaigns are performing individually and holistically, key performance indicators (KPIs) should be tracked to monitor success. With customers no longer on a linear or identical path-to-purchase, prioritizing KPIs with consistency helps keep a high-level view of the data points. This not only provides, but also allows you to strategically adjust and optimize. This will vary depending on businesses but, you should start at a high level before diving deeper. Thinking about what kind of information you are seeking from your audience, the actions you want them to take, and how these impact the customer experience will help guide your efforts for every campaign.
Below we have outlined KPIs to help as you work to improve your campaigns and resonate with subscribers. Keep in mind: Be sure to have a holistic view of email metrics as well as your digital marketing efforts as a whole to best benchmark for an omnichannel approach.
The open rate is how many of your delivered emails were “opened” and is great for gauging the effectiveness of subject lines, monitoring email deliverability, and measuring high-level subscriber engagement. Open rate can also give you insight into your historical brand presence. Open rate can be indicative of how connected your previous messages were to your audience or a sign that subscribers have come to value your brand and trust your messages hold value.
Keep in mind that with Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) now in play, the open rate for your Apple Mail users may be inaccurate and unreliable until the market settles. So be careful not to rely too heavily on open rates for overall program success, especially if your audience is largely made up of Apple Mail users.
Click-through rate (CTR)
The click-through rate (CTR) is the percentage of people who opened your email and clicked on at least one link. This is usually the most important metric for marketers but it’s really a starting point for further digging.
CTR is a great view of email engagement and shows the percentage of your audience that’s interested in the email content. This can help you adjust your messaging to add more emphasis on actions that are a higher priority for your business or give you a broader view on what subscribers are most interested in and allow you to add more focus on those actions moving forward.
The unsubscribe rate measures how many people opt out of your emails, and in general, you want to aim for less than 1-2% to stay on the good side of deliverability. Depending on your email platform, an unsubscribe may be recorded if a person actually opts out or if they just click your unsubscribe link.
Keeping track of your unsubscribe rate helps you identify email list health and content performance. Also, unsubscribes are not necessarily an indication of poor campaigns but instead, can be used to make sure those who are receiving your emails are not only the right audience but want to hear from you. That being said, giving subscribers the option to opt out and making the process easy builds trust that you value their opinion and your brand experience.
The email bounce rate is how many of your sent emails bounced—or weren’t delivered—regardless of whether it was a soft bounce, a temporary problem with email addresses, or a hard bounce.
If your bounce rate is too high, it’s a sign the email addresses on your list are bad, usually due to poor email list hygiene or problematic acquisition sources. If you don’t do something about it right away, this can ultimately hurt your ability to land in the inbox.
Comparing bounce rates against opens is a great way to gauge the quality of your email list and whether you need to dig deeper into figuring out what’s causing problems.
One way to add a layer of protection to help lower bounce rates is requiring double opt-in. This is a subscription process where a new email address is only added to your email list after the address owner clicks a confirmation link in a subscription activation or opt-in confirmation request email that’s sent to them after they opt in via a form or checkbox.
Conversion rate (CVR)
The email conversion rate measures how many people took an action when opening your email. A conversion could be anything from completing a form, registering for an event, or making a purchase. You may have more than one conversion point in an email, which each need tracked separately.
Conversions are the most indicative of how campaigns are performing, what is resonating with customers, and what’s driving business. However, it’s important to keep the customer journey in perspective. Conversions aren’t always immediate, but that doesn’t mean your efforts have failed! Consumers are being bombarded with ads and emails. Sometimes they need additional messaging, especially if it’s personalized to them specifically, to help push them further down the conversion funnel.
Some emails lend themselves to direct conversions (e.g. click here to purchase!). But there’s also value in “indirect” conversions, where your email inspires some other interaction with your site or product or captures the subscriber’s attention and directs them to your site, only to take a different action. These are known as assisted conversions and still have great value.
Tracking the metrics that matter
Knowing where to start tracking KPIs is only the tip of the iceberg when analyzing email campaigns. It’s important to evaluate these goals both holistically and for each campaign individually to best measure and drive results. Once you master the basics you can dive deeper into data to increase sophistication, apply additional testing, and improve your messaging to keep your subscribers coming back for more.
Maria Coleman was a Senior Content Marketing Manager at Litmus