Email Marketing Metrics Boil Down to 5 Numbers

Email MarketingEmail marketing metrics are far simpler than other metrics such as Website analytics.

Because there are only a small number of them, it is easy to track results and focus efforts on how to improve them.

But that doesn’t make email marketing easy. It is a big challenge first to get people to subscribe and then to keep them when they have so many other options for getting their information.

Five email marketing metrics track the return on investment that a site or business puts into a campaign with money and labor:

  1. Subscription rate
  2. Open rate
  3. Click rate
  4. Churn rate
  5. Conversion rate


Subscription Rate

The subscription rate shows the ratio of how many people have signed up for the email versus the total number exposed to the signup form.

Some email marketing experts don’t track this number, but it it worth watching for a simple reason — if the signup is promoted heavily and few people sign up for it, there is a problem with either the promotion or the perceived value of the email,

The signup form should be a sales pitch like any other sales pitch with copy that entices the visitor with the benefits of subscribing.

The actual form should appear high enough on the page so that the visitor doesn’t have to scroll to see it.

Some sites get aggressive with the form by putting it on every page. That approach ensures high visibility, but if it is anchored in the same spot everywhere on the site, some repeat visitors will become blind to it.

Open Rate

The email marketing open rate is the first and most important email marketing metric. It is the percentage of subscribers who actually open the email when they receive it.

A fairly common range for open rates is between 15 and 25 percent. It varies by industry and other factors such as the subject line.

The open rate improves when it is sent at a good time of the day or especially if the subject line is inviting enough.

At some point, the open rate doesn’t go any higher for a few simple reasons. The recipient isn’t there, doesn’t have time to read it, doesn’t even see it because it got blocked by a spam filter, etc.

Email marketing open rates are usually strong for high-quality lists and weak for low-quality ones. A high quality list consists of subscribers who opted-in to the list. In other words, they consciously chose to subscribe.

Low-quality lists consist of emails acquired through more stealthy tactics such as an opt-out box or, even worse, emails that are added without the person’s permission. Even though that tactic is illegal, it is still common.

Click Rate

The click rate is the percentage of subscribers who click on a link in the email.

The click rate can be tracked as a percentage of the total people who received the email (which will be a lower rate) or the number of people who opened and clicked (a higher rate). It is usually the percentage of total recipients who end up clicking.

Click rates usually run between 5 and 10 percent of total recipients. Again, it depends on many factors including the open rate, quality of the list, etc.

More importantly, it also depends heavily on the quality of the email content. An email with eight or 10 clickable topics will more likely have clicks than an email with one topic.

Images can enhance the visual appeal and click rate of an email. But it is important to know that many email viewers block images for security and other reasons. Some sources say that the number of people who block images may be as high as 50 percent.

Otherwise, try using colors, interesting fonts and basic HTML enhancements to increase the visual appear and click rate.

Churn Rate

The churn rate or unsubscribe rate is the number of people who unsubscribe from the email newsletter versus the number who subscribe.

A typical churn rate is less than 1 percent per month. Anything higher indicates a problem with the email list or the content of the email — either it has poor quality, is being sent at the wrong time or is a mismatch with the subscriber’s interests.

Obviously, the lower the percentage the better.

The churn rate is a combination of people who intentionally unsubscribe and email addresses that are no longer valid because of people who move to a new job with a different address or those who simply choose a new vendor.

The bounce rate indicates the the number of emails sent and rejected by the recipients mail server.

This usually happens because the recipient is no longer at that address. A high bounce rate indicates that the email list isn’t being properly managed.

Conversion Rate

All of the effort that goes into email marketing should result in fulfilling a business goal.

That goal could be visiting a site with advertising, buying a product or service, registering for something, etc.

The conversion rate can be several percentages:

  1. Total fulfillments divided by total emails
  2. Fulfillments / open rate
  3. Fulfillments / click rate

For a content site with advertising, the click rate is the conversion rate because the primary goal is site visitations.

For purchasing and registering, a much lower percentage is likely.

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