Explained in 60 Seconds: What Your Email Metrics Are Telling You

December 02, 2014

Despite the seemingly annual proclamation that email has finally met its demise, the fact is email remains an effective tool for communication and customer relationship management. It is almost forty times better for customer acquisition than Facebook and Twitter and 68% of consumers would tell you that it is their first-choice preferred channel for receiving commercial messages.

Clearly email isn’t going away anytime soon, so understanding the related metrics is an important part of maintaining a successful email marketing strategy. There are three basic numbers that will give you a good idea of the overall health of your email program.

Open Rate
Open rate indicates the percentage of recipients who opened your email based on the total number of records to which your email was delivered.

A below average open rate can be an indicator that your subject line is not engaging your recipients to open your email. Try A/B testing multiple subject lines to understand the type of messaging, number of characters, and personalization techniques that work best for your audience.

Click Rate
Click rate, also called click-through rate or CTR, tells you how many recipients clicked on a link in your email. Take note of how your email marketing platform calculates this number as some base it off of the total number of emails delivered while others use the number of emails opened.

The click rate serves as an indicator of how interested your audience is in your content. If you’re not satisfied with the number of clicks you’re getting, consider:

  • Reviewing your content strategy to make sure it’s in line with the type of content the people on your mailing list want to receive.
  • Checking out your site analytics to see which pages get the most traffic and create email content accordingly.
  • Segmenting your list and sending versioned emails with better targeted content for your list members.

Unsubscribe Rate
While the rule for open rate and click rate is “the higher the better,” that’s definitely not the case when it comes to the unsubscribe rate. The unsubscribe rate is the percentage of email records that have taken action to no longer receive email from you based on the number of records that received the email.

Keeping your unsubscribe rate below 1% is ideal, but if you find yours creeping higher, it could be because:

  • You’re mailing a new list. Sending to new lists typically results in higher unsubscribe rates than sending to lists that are mailed to regularly.
  • The people you are mailing to no longer find your content helpful or interesting.
  • You’re over-mailing your list. Allow for your list members to chose the frequency with which they would like to receive emails to help reduce the number of unsubscribes. Also, before you hit the send button, ask yourself if everyone on you list needs to receive what you’re sending. Could you be targeting your emails by segment? And is sending one more email worth churning through your list?

There you have it. Email metrics decoded. If you’re wondering how you stack up against your industry, check out this handy benchmark guide. Now run, don’t walk, to your email marketing platform and start crunching the numbers to see if your email marketing is making the grade.

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