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How to Measure Email Marketing Success: Beyond Open Rate


When you know which email analytics to measure, how to calculate performance, and how to explain what it means to decision-makers, you’re a more empowered email marketer. But email is in a state of change. Now, many email marketers are wondering how to measure email marketing success.

That’s why we created the “Email Analytics in 2022: A Survival Guide.” This handy resource will help you understand:

  • Why email analytics like the open rate don’t mean what they once did
  • Recommended email marketing metrics you may not currently prioritize–but should consider
  • How to guide your team and leadership through these new measures of success

Read on for a primer on why the meaning of some email marketing metrics are changing, and how to measure email marketing success with the help of our guide.

Why have email metrics changed?

For years, core metrics like email open rates were a staple in email marketing programs. Some in the email marketing community have long argued that the open rate was never more than a vanity metric. Regardless, it’s one of the most popular. Not only is it interesting for email marketers to look at, it’s easy data to obtain. Most ESPs include it in standard reporting tools.

And unlike the many nuances of email marketing, open rates are fairly easily explained to anyone who has used email. As Cynthia Price, Litmus’ SVP of Marketing, pointed out on a Litmus Talks webinar, many email marketers have trained our leadership to want to see it, too.

But open rate has become more complex to accurately interpret since Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) came into effect in the fall of 2021.

The degree to which this impacts any specific email program depends on how many Apple Mail users have opted into MPP. But for context, Litmus’ March email client market share data shows that MPP now accounts for 53.1% of all Apple clients. So, there’s a chance that at least some of your open rates might not mean what you once thought they did.

Plus, data privacy is a hot button issue–and we’re just getting started. Right now, email marketing eyes are on MPP, but it stands to reason that we’ll see plenty of similar events follow suit.  Boston Consulting Group recommends that organizations start planning for a future that takes new (and yet to be known) privacy shifts into account. Whatever the future holds, privacy will have a massive influence on how marketers engage with customers, ask for and use their data.

“It almost makes sense to plan for a new normal where we’re never going to get opens– and plan our strategies around that,” says Price.

If not open rates, what does measure email marketing success?

Every email you send should have a purpose in your email marketing strategy. As you think about how to measure email marketing success moving forward, consider the big “why” of your email strategy.

For most email marketers, the goal isn’t only to get the recipient to open an email.

To shift your thinking, consider:

What are your goals with email?

If you want your subscriber to engage, brainstorm creative email elements that encourage clicks and true human activity.  For example, a simple thumbs up or thumbs down button can help capture some more insight about your subscriber preferences, and gauge whether they are active.

What are you really trying to get your audience to do?

If the goal is conversion, test different ways of delivering a conversion event.

Consider the big picture. How does email feed into your other touchpoints? Look at your subscribers through a lens that is bigger than recipients of email.

How will you measure and monitor negative signals?

If you think your open rate activity may not be entirely reliable, don’t base suppression decisions on it. Instead, consider metrics like unsubscribe rates and monitor opt-out trends.

Embrace the opportunity to better understand your audience

Pivoting your strategy for how to measure email marketing success is an opportunity to learn more about your subscribers and introduce your own leadership to new ways of thinking about email results.

For specific metrics to consider (and how to calculate and report them), grab your copy of  “Email Analytics in 2022: A Survival Guide” now!

Front page of Litmus' Email Analytics Survival Guide

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Learn how to measure and interpret your email campaign performance in our Email Analytics Survival Guide.

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