The 7 E-mail Marketing Metrics that Actually Matter and Why

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The 7 E-mail Marketing Metrics that Actually Matter and Why

With social media being the most popular kid in school, e-mail marketing has been relegated to the kid sitting alone at the lunch table. E-mail marketing has long been a staple of many businesses, e-commerce and otherwise, and though it doesn’t get as much attention as blogs and articles, it’s still an important part of online marketing.

E-mail marketing can expand your client list and help increase the loyalty with those on it, potentially leading to stronger client relationships and an increase in sales. Like many other types of marketing, however, it comes with a ton of metrics attached.

When looking at the numbers on a campaign, it can be difficult to sort through open rates, click through rates, page visits, and dozens of other metrics that mail delivery software makes available.

All that excess information can make it hard to hone in on the metrics that actually matter in order to successfully evaluate your campaigns and create stronger campaigns in the future.

In this post, we’re going to take a look at the importance of e-mail marketing and tracking your campaigns’ success, the metrics that don’t matter, the 7 e-mail marketing metrics that actually matter—and why.

The Importance of E-mail Marketing

Social media marketing gets a lot of the hype today, but a strong e-mail list with successful campaigns do more than just provide high-value custom audiences for Facebook.

E-mail marketing can help keep you and your business at the forefront of your customers’ minds. Having your content delivered right into customers' (or potential customers') inboxes feels more personal, allowing you to more successfully nurture leads in a customized manner.

To reinforce the importance of e-mail marketing, let’s look at some statistics and numbers:

  •      E-mail marketing yields an average 4,300% ROI for businesses in the U.S.
  •      Small business owners estimate that spending an extra hour a day doing e-mail marketing is worth $273 an hour
  •      E-mail marketing is an average of 40% more effective at gaining new customers than both Facebook and Twitter
  •      Automated e-mail messages average 70.5% higher open rates and 152% higher click through rates than “business as usual” marketing messages


These stats remind us that e-mail marketing does matter and is highly effective, both at generating sales and nurturing leads.

As with any type of marketing effort, it’s important to monitor your campaigns as they progress, and for that, you need to know which metrics matter, and which don’t. So…

Which Metrics Don’t Matter?

While all metrics can offer some insight into your campaigns (and some matter more for different types of campaigns or when addressing different problems), there are some that aren’t quite as effective when measuring the overall success of your campaigns.

These metrics include:

  •      Open rates. One of the first things that most marketers look at is the open rate. The open rate can tell you a few things, including how good your subject lines and offer are, but overall it’s an unreliable metric. Most mail delivery software won’t register an e-mail as being opened by a user unless the images in it are loaded. Because of this, it’s not a metric that needs to be focused on.  
  •      Churn rate. The churn rate automatically determines how your e-mail list is growing or shrinking; it evaluates the number of subscribers by adding new subscriptions and subtracting unsubscribes. While this can be a helpful metric at first site, some software solutions won’t show you which campaigns lost you subscribers, making it hard to determine why. With the why being so important to improve campaigns for the long term, it’s not much help outside of offering a number.


Keep in mind that all metrics can be valuable in the right light, and can tell you something about your campaigns. A weak open rate, for example, while unreliable, could also point to weak subject lines. If you’re having a specific problem, take a look at the metrics that would most clearly indicate what the problem could be.

When it comes down to it, though, there are several metrics that are more reliable and valuable when evaluating the success and ROI of your e-mail  campaigns.

Which Metrics Do Matter

Now that we’ve taken a look at some of the metrics that don’t matter as much and aren’t necessarily crucial to evaluate for most campaigns, we can focus on the metrics that do matter for e-mail marketing.

There are 7 metrics on our list that are most important when measuring the success of your marketing campaigns, which can help you to increase sales, ROI, and have more actions taken on future campaigns.

 Free Bonus Download: Get a list of 10 rules for effective email marketing management that will convert your leads into sales! Click here to download it free 

1. Click-through Rate

The click-through rate is something that plenty of businesses and marketers are familiar with across multiple platforms. It’s a metric that matters when appraising the success of your e-mail (or any) campaigns.

Your click-through rate will tell you how many people have clicked on the link to your landing page per e-mail delivered (with the number of e-mails opened being irrelevant). The average click-through rate hovers around 2-3%, though it varies based on the industry you’re in.

With this information, you can make sure you’re up to industry standards, as well as see how many users find your content valuable enough to click to your actual site or landing page. Click-through rates are a fantastic gauge of user engagement with and interest in your content.

How to increase your click through rate

To increase your click-through rate, there are several things you can do. The best plan of attack is to choose a singlge goal for each e-mail and focus on it. Do you want to encourage users to sign up for a webinar or to make sales for a product?

Pick one goal and focus all your energy (and content) on it. This includes the images in the e-mail, the text, the subject line, and—most importantly—the CTA, which should be both clear and concise. It’s important to give people a reason to take this desired action from your call to action, so make it easy to do so.

The 7 E-mail Marketing Metrics that Actually Matter and Why

Caption: The clickable CTAs “Shop Now” take users directly to the correct landing page.

2. Conversion Rate

The conversion rate is another self-explanatory metric; it tells you how many conversions you’ve had for your campaign per e-mail delivered. It’s important for an obvious reason: you want to make sure that no matter what types of conversion you’re aiming for, your desired actions are being taken. This helps you gauge how effective your campaign was in achieving a very specific goal.

Conversions can be traditional online sales, but they don’t have to be; they can also be webinar or demo sign-ups, having content downloaded, or any other trackable action you’re focusing your campaign on.

Conversion rates have a larger range of averages per industry than click-through rates, with the median being about 7% based on some research.

While some mail delivery software systems may track conversion rates with tracking pixels, it’s almost always best (or at least advantageous) to use Google Analytics.

How to increase your conversion rate

Increasing your conversion rate is often the bottom line for most marketers when examining and running e-mail marketing campaigns. Some tips to increase e-mail marketing conversion rates include:

  •      Make your offers appealing and valuable
  •      Send traffic to a designated highly-focused landing page where the CTA is clear and highly visible
  •      Add as much personalization as possible in your e-mail campaigns, including specific suggestions
  •      Use web series campaigns (like abandoned shopping carts) to appeal to interested users who need just a small push towards conversion
  •    Segment your e-mail list based on purchase history and interests to deliver more relevant content to your users 


The 7 E-mail Marketing Metrics that Actually Matter and Why

Caption: Explaining the details of a member’s plan can help increase engagement and retention, as Audible does here.

3. Bounce Rate

The bounce rate is the number of your total e-mails sent that could not be delivered to the recipient’s inbox. This happens when there is a problem with the e-mail address; those that are unopened or reported as spam are not included in the bounce rate metric.

There are two types of bounces—hard bounces and soft bounces.

Soft bounces are temporary problems that sometimes happen with a valid e-mail address, like having an inbox that’s full and needs to be emptied, or a malfunctioning server. These aren’t anything to be concerned about.

Hard bounces are another story, and are permanent problems; they include invalid/fake e-mail addresses, or closed e-mail accounts. Since hard bounces are permanent problems, remove those users from your list as soon as you notice the pattern; ISPs use bounce rates as part of their evaluation when looking at an e-mail sender’s reputation, so you don’t want a high bounce rate to damage yours.

 Free Bonus Download: Get a list of 10 rules for effective email marketing management that will convert your leads into sales! Click here to download it free