Email Success: What Are the Key Metrics That Matter?

By: Kevin Gao, CEO & Founder of Comm100

If you have a basic understanding of marketing metrics, then many of the metrics associated with email marketing won't be foreign to you. They may, however, be variations of the types of metrics that you're used to looking at for ad campaigns or on-site performance metrics. If you're not familiar with common marketing metrics, don't worry! In this section, we'll walk you through what the most important metrics that you need to understand to determine your email success and optimize your newsletter program

Email Success Metric 1: List Size

Email Success

The first metric that you'll need to understand in order to fully be able to understand your marketing email or newsletter campaign is the starting point – your email list size. If you're sending to five hundred names or five thousand names, you can expect some changes and alterations in your key performance indicators. For example, when your email list is smaller, it's likely that all of the names on your email list are people who are passionate about or committed to your brand. Therefore, you should expect higher open rate and user engagement. As your list grows, you'll move further away from your committed brand advocates and to a more generalized, less passionate audience. When that happens, you are likely to see open rates, click-through rates, and even conversion rates drop to lower levels. It's impossible to tell what, for your company or business, constitutes a small email list or a large email list. However, before you can determine the success or failure of any email marketing campaign, you'll need to take a look at your list size and think about what type of users are likely to be on your list.

Email Success Metric 2: Deliverability – Delivered Rate

The second metric that you'll need to understand is called "email deliverability" or "delivered rate." This is the number of emails that you sent that were actually delivered to recipients. It's not the number that arrived in the inbox – deliverability rate may include emails that ended up in spam or junk folders. However, what it does tell you is how many "bad addresses" or "bounced" addresses you had on your email list. A healthy email list, and one that will not incur sender reputation penalties, will have a limited number of bad or bounced addresses. If the email list that you are sending is your internally-collected house-list and you have a low deliverability rate, this may mean that you are not properly error checking email addresses at the time that people submit their email addresses, that your are not properly pruning and maintaining your email list, or that a malicious competitor has recently spammed your list by signing up a high volume of bad email addresses. In any case, if your deliverability rate is low (or the number of undelivered email addresses is high), your list requires immediate attention to restore it to full health. If your email list is a rented or purchased list and your deliverability rate is not acceptable, you should request a refund on a per-email address basis for the number of undeliverable addresses and should consider that factor when considering renting or purchasing email addresses from the same source in the future.

Email Success Metric 3: Open Rate

Email open rate is one of the single most important email success metrics that you will need to monitor to optimize your email campaign. Simply put, open rate is the number (typically presented as a percentage) of people who received your email and then opened it. We'll discuss open rate in great detail in the next section of this book. However, since the first step of any successful email campaign is getting people to actually open your email, open rate is a critical metric to both monitor and constantly improve upon.

Email Success Metric 4: Click-Through Rate

Click-through rate will also be discussed in much more detail in the following sections of this book. However, because you typically cannot monetize directly from an email view (unless you are serving impression-based ads within your email), all of your monetization depends on how many people click-through your email to a website page or landing page on which you can make money either through a revenue-generating transaction or a page impression for an advertising contract. Click-through rate may be presented as the total number of clicks from your email to pages on your website. It may also be presented as the total number of individuals who clicked through your email to a landing page. We'll explain the pros and cons of these tracking options in the following section. For now, just be aware that there are multiple metrics to consider and that click-through rate is important.

Email Success Metric 5: Conversion Rate

Conversion rate, of course, is the metric that often matters the most to determine email success. This is the metric that determines how many of the individuals that you emailed made a revenue-generating transaction or signed-up at your website. While almost all email marketing platforms, including Comm100, will handle tracking your deliverability, open rate, and click-through rate for you, you'll have to accommodate your conversion tracking with an internal system. Google Analytic's goal tool and referring sites tools are an acceptable out-of-the-box solution for this challenge. However, you may want to develop more robust internal tracking tools and reporting tools to manage tying sales or sign-ups back to sources such as email marketing.

Email Success Metric 6: Unsubscribe and Spam Complaints

Email Success Metric s

The final primary metric for email success that you'll want to look is the number of unsubscribe requests or spam complaints that your emails are generating. Not only do a high number of unsubscribe or spam complaints mean that you are jeopardizing the health of your email marketing list and your sender reputation, it may also mean that your content or offers aren't compelling. The goal is always to grow your email list, not to reduce its size. If you are seeing high numbers of unsubscribe requests or spam complaints, it's time to take a close look at the quality of the email marketing that you're sending or the frequency with which you're sending it.

Typically, you'll want to see a combined unsubscribe and spam complaint rate of one percent of your total list or more. In the event that your unsubscribe requests or spam complaints exceed two percent, it's time to do some serious investigation into the timing, content, and frequency of your email sends.

Email Success Metric 7: Historical Comparisons

The six metrics described above are the primary metrics for email success that you'll want to consider when evaluating your email marketing efforts: Did users actually receive your email? Did they open it? Did the click-through to the content or offers promoted? Did they take advantage of that content or those offers? Did they remain on your email list?

However, you'll want to not only track these metrics individually but using a method that compares them to previous email sends. Be sure to optimize both year-over-year, month-over-month and send-to-send metrics to track email engagement activity. You may learn simple best practices that can make your email program more effective. Whether you've just begun developing an email marketing campaign or whether you've been emailing users for years, comparing past and current email engagement using the metrics describe above can help you monitor where your email campaigns are succeeding and where they could use some extra attention and development.

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eBook: Email Success

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