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The Email Marketing Guide: Part 5

In this last post of The Email Marketing Guide series, we’ll take a look at what you should be measuring, in terms of your emails’ performance.
So which metrics matter? It really depends on the goals of your email marketing campaigns—aims such as growing your subscriber numbers or generating more leads, for example. However, there are some general and very useful metrics to track. Here are some things you should be looking out for.
Delivery Rate
This is the number of your emails that were delivered to the recipients, and the rate needs to be 95% or above. However, this metric includes delivery to spam/junk folders—which brings us to “Inbox Placement” (another similar metric). The latter shows you if the message went to the subscriber’s inbox or their bulk mail folder.
Bounce Rate
The bounce rate measures your email delivery “fails”; this is the percentage of emails that didn’t even make it to the recipient. There are two types of bounces to measure:

  1. Soft bounces – this happens when you send an email to a full inbox, for example. When that person deletes some emails, your message will be delivered. It could also occur with a malfunctioning server.
  2. Hard bounces – these are the result of closed, invalid, or non-existent email addresses. The problem is that a high bounce rate is also rated as spam by the ISP, so to avoid a reduced delivery rate, remove these email addresses from your list.

Open Rate
Open rate refers to the number of people who received and opened your email out of the total number of emails that were sent (and delivered). This rate is usually expressed as a percentage. This seems like one of the simplest email marketing metrics, but there are a few issues around this rate:
– Some email clients automatically open emails.
– The numbers do not account for people who open the email by mistake (yes this does happen).
– Furthermore, an open is only tracked with a 1×1 transparent pixel image / impression pixel. This image needs to be downloaded/enabled through the browser or recipient in order for the email to be counted as opened.
–  An email is also opened if the recipient clicks on a link in the message.
Although this is a bit of an ambiguous metric, it can come in useful when testing different subject lines, sending emails at different times of the day, etc. It is also good for measuring your general performance over a certain period of time.
What’s a good open rate? 20–30% is decent, and anything more is great!
Click-Through Rate
The CTR is a standard and important metric, measured by someone clicking on any link in your email. This is an indication of whether your subscribers are interacting with your emails. Any monetization that comes from your email campaigns will occur via click-throughs to your website/landing page.
Click-through rates can be improved by making your messages mobile-friendly (as more and more emails are accessed through phones).
Click-to-open rate: This is a variation/combination of both click-through and open rates. It shows the percentage of clicks compared to the opens. (How many people opened your email and clicked on a link in the message.)
Conversion Rate
This tells you how many people, after clicking through on your email, took a certain action or achieved a certain goal—converted on an offer. This is the one metric that tells you if your emails are successful or not.
This doesn’t refer to sales only: it could be anything such as downloading an ebook, filling out a performance survey, etc. The thing is that conversion rates depend greatly on various factors, from email subject line to the type of action you’re asking users to take.
Unsubscribe Rate & Complaint Rate
This is a pretty painful metric to keep track of. The fact is that someone actually took the time and effort (which is a lot in the online world) to make sure that they never receive an email from you again.
What’s worse is when your subscribers label the email as spam. Here are suggestions for high unsubscribe/complaint rates:

  • Check your subject lines; are they misleading/sensationalist in any way?
  • Review the frequency of your emails—less is better than more.
  • Ensure that you only send out relevant and quality content.
  • Avoid sounding spammy or promotional. Here’s a list of words to avoid.
  • Don’t try to hide your unsubscribe link, and don’t make it difficult for users to unsubscribe (otherwise they’ll just flag your message as spam).
  • Used a confirmed opt-in so that a user will have to activate their subscription through email confirmation. This reduces the chances of unintentional subscriptions.

Share/Referral/Forward Rate
This is certainly a good measure of success. The sharing/forwarding metric is the rate at which your subscribers share your email with others. This helps you to grow your list and attract new leads.
Ensure that you also have social media sharing buttons in your email messages, as some people might prefer to share your content through a tweet for example.
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And that’s it for The Email Marketing Guide series! Did we miss anything?

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