Email Marketing Metrics that Matter: What to Track and Why

Feb 15
13 min read
Email marketing has numerous benefits, from increasing website traffic to boosting lead conversions. Additionally, email campaigns results can help you track your success in real-time through metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, unsubscribe rates, and conversion rates, among others. Monitoring these key metrics will help you understand how well your emails are performing and what areas need improvement to maximize engagement with potential customers.
Data sheet - email marketing metrics - Photo by Lukas - Pexels

But which metrics matter the most? Let's explore.

Average Open Rate

The average open rate is the percentage of recipients who opened an email out of all emails sent. This metric can provide insight into how effective your message and subject line were in grabbing people’s attention and the overall effectiveness of your marketing campaign.

However, there has been a recent update by Apple that has changed the view and measurement of open rates significantly. You can read the full article here

To summarize this update:

After users update to iOS 15, they will be prompted with an option to disable Protect Mail Activity when they open Apple Mail for the first time – this means it will be enabled (by default) for everyone. For people who do not disable this setting (which we expect to be no one), it will effectively block all pixel tracking located within their emails, thus preventing all information about who “opened” the email from being sent back to the sender.

In a nutshell, email marketers can no longer fully trust their open rates and should focus on other metrics (like clicks and clickthroughs) to better gauge the success of their emails.

Does this mean that open rates don’t matter? Of course not! We still need our audiences to open our emails. But, it does mean that tracking them or judging our performance based on open rates is not the best route.
Regardless, let’s discuss ways to get more people to open your emails.

How to Improve Average Open Rate

To maximize the effectiveness of your email campaigns, there are some best practices you should consider:


Personalizing emails is a great way to grab people's attention and increase average open rates. By customizing each email to fit the recipient's interests and demographics, you show the reader that you care about them. Addressing people by their first names can help give emails an engaging, personalized feel. Every email should target a specific audience to stand out from the crowd and resonate with its intended readers.

Segmenting Lists

The next step to personalization is creating segmented lists. When you segment, you can send tailored messages to groups of people who have taken certain actions or fit within specific criteria. Geographical location, age, gender, purchase history, or any other demographic or psychographic data are great examples of segmented lists. This allows you to tailor your message to specific actions you want this group to take.

Mobile-Friendly Design

With users spending more time on their phones and tablets than ever, it is important to ensure your email campaigns are optimized for mobile devices. Implementing a mobile-friendly design can help you increase average open rates significantly. This includes using a responsive design format to ensure that the email changes depending on which device it's opened on, utilizing easy-to-read fonts, and including images and promotional elements that look great and scale well across multiple devices. Not only will a mobile-friendly design make emails more presentable on smartphones and tablets, but it'll also give subscribers an easier way to interact with the message throughout all stages of the buying process.

Test Subject Lines

A critical factor in keeping your emails attractive and engaging is making sure you're consistently testing different subject lines. By testing other subject lines, you can see which ones are more effective at boosting the number of people opening your emails. This, in turn, will help to improve your average open rate over time. Each of these tests must be tracked and recorded so you can see how changes to the content, length, style, or offer impacted the success rate of each message. With a bit of effort and experimentation, creating compelling subject lines for your email campaigns can become an easier process.

Average Click-Through Rate

The average click-through rate (CTR) is the percentage of recipients who clicked on a link in an email. It measures how successful your message was in prompting customers to take action and provides insights into the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns.

If you're selling a product or service or using email to drive more traffic to your site, tracking your average CTR is essential. This metric can help you determine which emails resonate with customers and encourage them to take action by clicking through to a landing page or product page.

How to Improve CTRs

Improving CTRs should be one of the top goals for your email marketing efforts. Here are a few things to consider:

Optimizing Content

When it comes to email marketing messages, optimizing your content is vital if you want to increase your click-through rates. A great way to start is by making sure your copy is compelling enough to entice the reader to click on the link provided. This means using active language, memorable headlines, and understanding your audience.

By crafting a message customized to what they are looking for, you've already increased your chances of them engaging with your material. Furthermore, including visuals in your email can be beneficial in drawing viewers' attention and further luring them into clicking that all-important link. Ensure that your emails look great, the copy is concise, and the call-to-action is clear to the recipient.

Better List Segmenting

if your emails are not adequately segmented and targeted, your click-through rates will be lower than they could be. Regularly investing time in developing segmented lists for your target demographic allows you to deliver personalized messages that are far more likely to be clicked on by the recipients. A good starting point is dividing recipients based on their interests and past behaviors, such as the types of emails or products they open or purchase from you. You can refine your lists further using other information like geographical location, website activity, or age range.

Creating specific journeys based on your audience's activity can take your segmented lists even further and provide increased value for your email recipients.

Test Your Timing

Even though a great subject line and eye-catching visuals are crucial to getting people to open your email marketing messages, one thing often overlooked is timing. If you're pushing out messages when your audience isn't likely to be online and checking their emails, you're missing out on potentially high click-through rates.

The best tactic for improving timing is to find when most of your target audience is engaging with their emails and optimize your send times according to that data. This requires work and testing, but the rewards make it worthwhile. You can also use some of the built-in tools of your favorite email marketing provider to help you identify ideal times to send your emails.

Make Your Message Resonate

Getting your audience to click on your email marketing messages requires an effective strategy with an intriguing message. Crafting a message that resonates will allow customers to take action fast, almost without hesitation. This means you must consider the words most relevant to your target audience and align them with the campaign's goals. It's important to frame any message so that consumers recognize your brand, know immediately what services or products are being offered, and understand the purpose of the content.

A/B Testing

A/B testing involves sending two variations of the same message with slight variations, such as different subject lines or calls to action, and then measuring the performance of each one. This allows you to gain accurate data on what works better for your customer base to optimize future messaging based on hard evidence. A/B testing is an incredibly powerful tool that's easy to set up and will give your emails the edge they need in a competitive market.

A good rule of thumb when A/B testing is to send your main message to 80% of your audience and the test to the other 20%. Of course, you could also do 50-50 if you prefer.

Average Unsubscribe Rate

The average unsubscribe rate is the percentage of recipients who opted out of receiving further emails from a particular sender. It is an important metric to consider when evaluating your email marketing campaigns as it provides insights into how engaged your customers were with the content and whether or not they found it relevant enough to remain subscribed.

How to Improve Average Unsubscribe Rates

While some unsubscribes will always happen, a good email marketing strategy should limit them by ensuring that the content and purpose of the emails stay relevant or don't wear down your audience. If your unsubscribe rate increases over time, it's essential to rethink your email marketing strategy and make necessary changes quickly to eliminate the reason your email audience is unsubscribing.

Here are some best practices to consider:

Ensure Emails Are on Brand

There's nothing worse than receiving an email from a company and not being able to recognize it as something from their business due to a lack of branding. This can lead readers to believe the email is spam and raise your unsubscribe rate because of confusion about where it originated. On the other hand, when each email message carries a shared brand identity, customers will recognize it was sent by you and be more likely to engage with the content.

Improve Load Times

When you're running an email marketing campaign, it's important to consider the user experience that your contacts will have. If the page takes too long to load or the design is challenging to navigate, recipients may be discouraged from taking action.

Improving your load times of the email itself (by limiting the size of images and content) and to your destination (website, landing page, etc.) can help keep your unsubscribe rates lower. Numerous studies have shown a correlation between fast loading speeds and higher customer satisfaction, making it essential to delivering successful customer messages.

Don't Try to Trick Your Audience

You should always be honest with your audience. Attempting to deceive recipients can ruin your credibility and damage the trust of both current and potential customers. It's essential to be upfront about the content of emails so that readers don't feel manipulated or tricked by buzzwords or false promises. This also ensures you aren't breaking any email laws from spam filters that may blacklist you from sending future messages. 

Ultimately, customers will appreciate transparency and respect more than tricks used to promote a product or service - especially if they have been promised something they never expected. Be respectful and authentic in the emails you create - it can go a long way in building a supportive relationship with your target audience.

Don't Buy Email Lists

Ever opened an email and wondered, "When the heck did I sign up for this?" Then you've probably experienced what it's like to have your email purchased by a company simply so they could improve their email subscriber numbers. You also know how scummy and gross it feels.

Email list buying may seem convenient for getting the exposure and reach you need for your email marketing campaign, but it can do more harm than good. When you purchase an email list, you risk gaining new contacts who may not be interested in your messages, leading to spam complaints and low deliverability rates.

Plus, any reputable email service will automatically reject emails sent to contact lists that were gathered through scraping or harvesting. By shelling out for an 'easy' list of leads, you could end up damaging your reputation and wasting money - better to focus on growing your mailing list the old-fashioned way, organically!

Conversion Rate

Conversion rate is a metric used to measure the number of people who completed an action or purchase in response to your marketing efforts. It is an essential metric when assessing your email campaigns' success, as it shows how effective you are at turning leads into customers.

How to Improve Conversion Rates

To maximize conversions, consider these best practices:

Content-Length Optimization

Content-length optimization is about more than aesthetics - it can have a profound effect on conversion rates. Reducing the amount of text and increasing white space can simplify your page and make it easier for visitors to find exactly what they’re looking for with little time or effort. Effective optimization means fewer distractions and more focus on the key elements you want to draw attention to - namely, offer calls-to-action that increase conversion rates.

Moreover, with fewer words to process, readers may be able to synthesize information quicker and thus convert faster. If you are serious about boosting conversions, you must recognize the value of content-length optimization as part of your email marketing strategy.

Clearly Defined CTAs

Having a clearly defined call-to-action in your email is often the difference between losing and gaining conversions. Offering concise, easily identifiable CTA options helps potential customers find answers quickly and reach their desired destination without becoming overwhelmed by too much information or feeling lost in a sea of possibilities.

Without clarity on what the customer can do to get one step closer to conversion, not only may they abandon the email altogether, but their trust and confidence in your brand will likely diminish. Therefore, having distinct call-to-actions that clearly guide users through their journey helps ensure a positive online experience while increasing conversion rates.

A/B Testing

A/B testing can be a valuable asset in optimizing conversion rates in emails. It’s one of the most effective techniques marketers and businesses use worldwide. By comparing different versions of an email campaign, businesses gain invaluable insight into which elements work best with their audiences - subject lines, images, and calls-to-action.

With A/B testing, marketers can make more informed decisions on their campaigns, leading to higher conversion rates. While it might sound overwhelming initially, any marketer or business can use this technique to improve their results.

Other Important Metrics

Of course, these are just a few of the most important metrics worth considering. Here are a few others to keep in mind and check on regularly:

Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is the percentage of emails sent that were not successfully delivered due to various reasons, such as an invalid address or server issue. It is important to track your bounce rate to reduce delivery issues and keep your list up-to-date.

Total Engagement

Total engagement measures the number of recipients who interacted with an email (e. g., opened it, clicked through, etc.) out of all those exposed; this metric provides helpful insights into how successful your campaigns were at engaging customers with the content you provided them with.

In conclusion, tracking email marketing metrics is essential for understanding your email marketing campaign's success and improving its performance over time.

To ensure higher success rates across the board, you should personalize subject lines with recipients' names or other relevant details about them, segment lists based on customer preferences and interests, optimize content length, improve mobile device optimization, and utilize visuals within messages to draw attention more effectively.

With these tips in mind, you can better understand how effective your email marketing efforts have been and make adjustments for future campaigns. Also, be sure to get yourself a great email marketing provider with the tools to do all this for you and provide you with great insights to improve and grow your business.

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