How do you know whether your email marketing efforts are paying off in the grand scheme of things? Is your data giving you the true story of your growth? Are you focusing on the right metrics or wasting time and effort getting side-tracked by 'vanity' metrics that are not really a true testament to your success?You know that you need to be tracking your metrics.
You know that certain metrics can give you insight into whether or not you are on the right track. But exactly which metrics are genuinely worth noting and which are icing on the proverbial cake?
To help you learn how to read your analytics more effectively, we have put together a list of the email marketing metrics that you want to watch and those that are not the be all and end all in the grander scheme of things.
Not All Email Marketing Metrics Reflect Your Growth
First things first, let's take a look at the email marketing metrics that you don't need to worry about too much. Although some of these metrics are still worth considering as part of the bigger picture, they do not always give you the most accurate insight into whether or not your campaigns are succeeding. Not all metrics were created equal.
Some can be extremely subjective, which means that they may mean different things to different companies. For example, you may find that your email open rates do not give you as much insight as your click-through rates. Ultimately, the value of any metrics comes down to the impact that they have on your performance as well as any decisions made from the metrics.
Vanity metrics are those that seem to be a big deal but do not really make much difference on a greater scale. They may look good on paper, but you seldom have much control over this type of data. These metrics do not always give a true reflection of how your campaigns are doing, either. Using the email open rate as an example, it may show that your emails are opened. This means very little if you are not getting a decent number of click-throughs or if your emails typically end up in the trash without being read.
Actionable metrics, on the other hand, are those that show that what you are doing is working on some level. Click-through rates mean that people are not only opening your emails – they are also reading your content and clicking through to your website. The chances of conversion at this point are far higher than they are compared to emails simply being opened.
That does not mean that metrics such as open rates do not have any value, however. The best way to look at it is to think of the bigger picture rather than focusing on a single set of metrics. On its own, a high open rate does not mean too much. In conjunction with a high click-through rate and a low bounce rate, a high open rate means something very different. To truly read your metrics and get the most from this data, think carefully about whether or not the metrics are genuinely offering insight that can provide actionable steps to improve your content, subject lines, calls to action, links, and overall email marketing campaigns.
Which Email Marketing Metrics to Track
With that said, which email marketing metrics should you consider and how do they help you improve your email marketing efforts? Here are some of the biggest metrics to consider.
By far the metric that most marketers tend to get stuck on the most, open rates simply refer to the number of times your emails are opened by subscribers. This metric is shown as a percentage and is determined by dividing the number of emails opened by the number of emails that were sent successfully. Bounced emails are not included. If the email is opened and images are enabled or a link is clicked, it is counted as being opened. That means that the rate can be a bit tricky when it comes to accuracy as some versions are text-based and some email clients block images from being automatically shown.
There are many marketers who swear that open rate is the most important metric of all. As it shows you how many people have opened your message, it is tempting to think that this is the most important stat, showing that people are interested in what you have to say. This metric does not always reflect your overall conversion goals, however. It is a good metric to demonstrate your reach but it may not give you the deepest insight into your impact.
A far more relevant and important metric is the click-through rate (CTR). This metric tells you how many times the links within your emails have been clicked. Also shown as a percentage, this rate is determined by dividing the number of tracked clicks by the number of emails that have been delivered successfully. Many CTRs are tracked using a tracking domain link that is automatically added within emails. When the links are clicked, they are first taken to the tracking domain before going to the destination link.
The reason that this metric is so important is not necessarily from a bottom line point of view. It is, however, very important in terms of engagement. When you are able to see how many of your links are clicked, you will be able to get a better idea of how people interact with your content. Through A/B testing, you can tweak and improve links and calls to action to further drive engagement. It's worth noting that some types of emails such as transactional emails and policy updates are not made to drive clicks so should not be tracked when evaluating your CTR metrics.
Another metric that is worth considering is your bounce rate. This rate refers to the emails that do not arrive in the recipient's inbox as well as those that are returned back to the sender. It is determined by dividing the number of bounced emails by the number of emails that are sent. There are a few reasons that emails may bounce. Although sometimes bounces may happen as a result of restrictive email filters or overcrowded inboxes, a common reason for bounced emails is incorrect email addresses. Clean data is hugely important in email marketing. An incorrect email address can directly lead to a lost potential conversion. Bounce rates give you a better understanding of any possible deliverability problems that may be in place.
Types of bounces include hard and soft bounce. Hard bounces occur when the email is completely rejected due to an invalid or non-existent email address. The recipient's server is very unlikely to receive the email at any point. Soft bounces occur when the email arrives but then bounces back due to a full inbox or another similar issue. There is still a chance that emails may be received at some point, however.
This one is also important. This rate is determined by dividing the number of unsubscribes by the number of delivered emails. Unsubscribe rates give you an idea of how many subscribers have left your mailing list by clicking on the unsubscribe rate. That means that they no longer want to receive your emails. There are a few reasons that this may happen – not all of them within your control. This metric can give you insight into your overall email marketing campaign performance. Often, this metric will fluctuate. Many factors can determine your unsubscribe rate, from the number of emails you send out to the type of content you send, the quality of the emails, your calls to action, and even whether or not the recipient is still interested in what you are offering.
A good way to use this insight is to include a simple opt-out survey on your unsubscribe page to ask your audience why they have left. This can help you identify any potential issues or areas for improvement. If you notice many people leaving for similar reasons, you will be able to improve your campaigns accordingly.
Finally, another metric to watch is your click-to-open rate (CTOR). This helps you gain insight into your email relevancy as well as your email list quality. To determine this rate, divide your total clicks by your total email opens. You can use this metric to improve your performance, weighing against your click-throughs and your open rates.
Split testing helps you improve your CTOR and overall performance. You could try comparing rates in different customer segments or compare against new and current customers. This will allow you to continually improve and grow your results.
For best results, investing in a comprehensive digital marketing platform that allows you to automate your email marketing is essential. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you improve your email marketing growth significantly.