Determine the Most Crucial KPIs for Your Next Email Campaign

Digital Marketing Strategy

This week’s Metrics Monday post looks at the right ways to measure your email marketing efforts. Although email is not as glitzy as other digital marketing initiatives, it remains an effective channel for communicating, engaging, and, ultimately, converting your core audiences.

Where to begin?

Some of the most crucial email marketing metrics are shown on MailChimp's Campaign Performance Report, like open and click rates.

In last month’s social metrics guide, we explored the most important metrics for each social platform. For our email marketing guide, we’re focusing on five distinct areas that are meant to provide insight and action for improving your email campaign performance, including:

  1. Delivery: Is your email being delivered to inboxes effectively?
  2. List health: Are people subscribing to your newsletter? Is your list decaying over time?
  3. Opens: Are your subscribers interested enough to open your email?
  4. Clicks: How many people are clicking on each email? How often are they clicking?
  5. Conversion: How many people have completed an action from your email?

The 5 core email marketing KPIs

1. Delivery

Which metrics should I track?

  • Delivery rate
  • Soft bounce rate
  • Hard bounce rate
  • Abuse reports

Delivery metrics are both the most basic and the most crucial baseline. If your emails are not being delivered properly, it can point to larger structural issues with your email list, platform, or content.

Overall, an email’s delivery rate should be as close to 100 percent as possible. MailChimp’s industry study revealed a delivery rate of 98.5 percent to 99 percent. We recommend that, if you have a delivery rate of less than 98 percent, you should take a deeper look into the health of your list.

Beyond delivery, keep a close eye on your bounce rate. In particular, keep an eye on the percentage of bounces that are hard versus soft. A hard bounce means that the email address is invalid, pointing toward an issue with your email list. A soft bounce indicates a temporary issue.

Finally, abuse reports are uncommon, but should raise a red flag if they increase or spike. This could indicate spammy or ill-targeted email content.

2. List Health

Which metrics should I track?

  • Subscribers (total)
  • List growth rate percentage
  • Unsubscribes

List health, similar to delivery, is a set of baseline metrics. First, you should always be tracking your total subscribers, both in terms of your full list and by segment. This will provide insight into how large of an audience you can reach, as well as the performance of your landing pages and contact forms.

Don’t be tricked into believing your email list is static. In fact, HubSpot estimates that lists decay by an average of 22.5 percent each year. This decay makes the need for fresh subscribers all that much more important.

Beyond new subscribers, unsubscribes can point toward a number of factors that may affect your list health. If you see a spike in unsubscribes after sending a particular email or from a particular email segment, investigate as to why this may be the case.

If unsubscribes increase (or decrease) after a change in frequency or over a period of time, this may point toward a strategic issue leading to subscribers dropping off.

3. Opens

Open rate is one metric to monitor for your email campaigns. Here's the average for the marketing industry.

Which metrics should I track?

  • Opens (total and unique)
  • Open rate (total and unique)
  • Opens per opener

The next step in understanding your email marketing performance is whether or not users are opening the emails you deliver to them. In their 2015 Email Marketing Benchmark Study, IBM recommends tracking “your open rate for comparison to your other messages, but don’t use it as a sole measure of campaign success.”

As a baseline, IBM provides 21 percent as the average unique open rate for emails, but your open rate will vary based on industry, company size, and email content.

Gain a better understanding of how many people on your list are opening the emails by measuring both the unique number of opens and unique open rate.

The final key metric is opens per opener, which provides insight into how many times someone is opening your email, pointing toward deeper engagement. IBM’s study provides an overall baseline of 1.62 opens per opener.

4. Clicks

Click rate is a key metric for email campaigns.

Which metrics should I track?

  • Unique clicks
  • Clicks per clicker
  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Click-to-open rate (CTOR)

Getting a subscriber to click through from the email pushes the user further down the conversion funnel. HubSpot explains that CTR is a baseline metric that can be used as a daily metric to quickly determine success at a high level.

However, while CTR looks at clicks in relation to the total number of emails delivered, CTOR provides insights on clicks from those who opened the email. This targeted metric shows whether your content is truly engaging those who open it.

Similar to opens, clicks per clicker provides insight into how many times someone who clicks in your email clicks overall. This metric can be useful if you are including multiple links in your emails or want to understand how people are consuming your content.

For overall baselines, IBM provides an average of 3.2 percent for CTR, with MailChimp providing industry averages ranging from 1.3 percent to 3.75 percent.

5. Conversions

Which metrics should I track?

  • Conversions
  • Cost per acquisition
  • ROI

Conversions could be a sale, lead, or premium content download depending on your email marketing goals. For conversions, we recommend integrating your email platform with Google Analytics. Most platforms, such as MailChimp, offer integration in order to attribute conversions from email.

You can also include UTM codes if no integration is offered. You can learn more about how to implement UTM codes not just for email, but for all marketing channels.

To calculate CPA, divide the amount invested in email marketing by your total number of conversions. This metric can be used to compare with other marketing or sales channels.

Finally, calculating your ROI is important when comparing your email marketing efforts with other channels.

Your email campaigns will become better optimized and more effective with a comprehensive list of KPIs. From opens to conversions, understand where your email marketing is succeeding or where it may need a little fine-tuning.

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