5.5 MIN READ
You’re creating content, organizing your emails, getting them out the door, and maybe even scheduling them to send automatically—no one can stop you now! Yep, you’re a bonafide member of the email marketing club; we’re thrilled you’re here, and so is your firm. The real question now is, are you digging into your email metrics and understanding what they truly mean? There are five key data points to start with.
While we may not all love getting our hands dirty in data, tracking email metrics is one of the most essential items that you should be taking the time to monitor. Why? If you aren’t looking at your email data, then you won’t know how well your emails are performing, if you need to be sending more or less content, or if you are sending emails on the wrong day or at the wrong time.
Taking a good hard look at email metrics is something people tend to skip when their to-do list is piling up because, in a never-ending world of completing tasks, it makes more sense to draft another email and get it out the door, right? Wrong! Digging into your email metrics will help you in the long run because you'll know exactly what’s working, what’s not, and where you can make improvements. You’re already putting in the time and effort to craft your email content, so let’s make sure you’re maximizing your returns.
The good news is that an email service provider (ESP) will provide the basic metrics you need to keep a watchful eye on, including open rate, click-through rate, and unsubscribe rate, which we’ll all dive into later. Most ESPs will also offer insight into a host of other metrics, whether it’s how long a recipient spent reading your email (read rate), how many people shared your email with someone else (forward rate), or even information on what email client the recipient read the email on (Gmail, Apple Mail, Microsoft Office).
No matter which ESP you use, you likely have access to a wealth of data—the trick is knowing how to leverage it. Let’s dive into the most important email metrics you should be tracking, what they mean, and why keeping a watchful eye on these metrics should be a top priority within your business.
1. Deliverability Rate
The deliverability rate monitors the rate at which emails reach your intended subscribers’ inboxes. Tracking this data metric ensures that your email send list is up-to-date and is as organized as it can be. If you begin seeing your deliverability rate decline, it’s time to clean your list up. So which email addresses are okay to remove?
If you are continually seeing emails hard bounce, it’s okay to go ahead and remove these email addresses from your send list. Wondering what the difference between a soft and hard bounce is? A soft bounce means there is a temporary reason an email cannot be sent, while a hard bounce means there is a permanent reason an email cannot be delivered, whether it’s due to an email server blocking emails or an email address no longer existing. Just as you would no longer call a phone number that is no longer in service, there is no point emailing someone you can no longer get in touch with. Of course, if a recipient has unsubscribed from your emails, be sure to remove them from your send list as well, since those emails are no longer deliverable either.
2. Open Rate
The open rate tracks the percentage of recipients who have opened an email. Tracking open rates is valuable because you’ll ensure the content you’re sending is actually resonating with your audience. As you track and compare open rates across sends, you’ll be able to see exactly what type of content recipients are interested in—maybe readers prefer content that is specific to you and your firm over more generalized industry news. The open rate metric will help you monitor that.
Tracking your open rate is also a great way to dig into what subject lines may be working over others. Does a personalized subject line or the use of an emoji lead to a higher open rate? Dig into the results, start testing, and find out!
It is also important to note that some inbox providers keep track of when emails are being opened by recipients. When you have a low open rate, an inbox provider may penalize you by sending future emails into a recipient's spam or junk folder, which is, of course, something you want to avoid. Keeping that in mind, it’s essential to keep a watchful eye on this metric and adjust your strategies accordingly.
3. Click-through Rate
You may have heard of click rate before, but did you know there is another metric that can provide a clearer picture of how well your emails perform? Meet click-through rate! Let’s start by breaking down the difference between each of these metrics first.
Click rate is the percentage of people who clicked a link in an email out of all the people who were delivered the email, regardless of if they even opened the email. On the other hand, the click-through rate looks at the percentage of recipients who clicked a link in the email out of those who actually opened the email. Click-through rate provides a clearer picture of how well your emails are performing because it focuses specifically on the level of engagement from those who are actually opening and reading your emails.
This is an important metric to track because if recipients are opening your emails but they are not clicking links, this may be a clue that readers are not actually interested in the content that you are sharing with them. This is also where segmentation can come in handy. If you take the time to create ideal client avatars, you can begin sending relevant and specific content tailored to each of these avatars vs. sending the same content to your entire email list. This is a surefire way to increase your email engagement.
4. Unsubscribe Rate
The unsubscribe rate tracks the percentage of recipients who unsubscribed from an email. This is a crucial metric to track for the health of your email list. As you know, sending content to contacts who want to receive your emails and are engaging with your content is a great marketing method, but sending emails to those who aren’t interested is not a great marketing method.
High unsubscribe rates could indicate that you’re sending content to people who are no longer interested in your services or are no longer interested in the content you are sending. Another possibility is that you may be sending too much content (yes, that is a thing!). As with the open rate metric, some inbox providers may penalize you for having a high unsubscribe rate by sending future emails to a spam or junk folder, so keep a watchful eye on this metric.
5. Conversion Rate
The last metric I’ll break down is what is known as the conversion rate. After an email recipient has opened and read your email, the next goal is typically to get them to convert on your call-to-action (CTA). This could be encouraging the reader to schedule an introductory meeting with you, download a content offer of yours, or subscribe to your blog. Let’s say you're sending an email with a CTA that offers recipients the opportunity to schedule a call with you. In this case, you'd consider anyone who schedules a call to be a conversion. Tracking your conversion rate is one of the most important metrics for determining the extent to which you're achieving your firm’s marketing goals.
Now you’re probably wondering what a good average is for each of these metrics. The honest answer is, it can depend. If you do a quick Google search for average email benchmarks, you’ll find some metrics to compare against. However, email metric data varies across industries and will also be different for each firm based on your audience and niche. This is exactly why averages and best practices exist so that you can have a general understanding of subscriber engagement.
The more emails you send, the more you’ll understand your send list, what content resonates with them most, and what new email tactics you can try over time. But all of this only if you keep your eyes on the right data points. Tracking these five email metrics will help you maximize your results when it comes to the time and effort you already spend writing and sending your valuable content. The email marketing club is the club to be in as a firm owner—now you’ll be a data-minded member at that.
About the Author
After getting her start as a Network Navigator on Team XYPN, Lindsey White now manages all things email in her aptly titled role of Email Marketing Manager. She is (almost) as passionate about subject lines and open rates as she is about growing the movement; lucky for her, she gets to focus on all of these things here at XYPN, where she crafts bragworthy emails like it’s her job—because it is.