As marketers, you’ve probably heard the terms “metrics” and “analytics” before, especially when it comes to email marketing…but what does that really mean?
Both terms can refer to different things in different marketing niches. But, when we’re talking about email marketing, in particular, metrics refer to data that gives you information about your emails and campaigns, and analytics refers to what you do with those data to draw insights.
Many ESPs like MailChimp, HubSpot, or Klaviyo (the ESP we use), offer easy-to-view metrics/analytics functions displayed in an accessible and constantly updating dashboard or subpage. Because of how simple it typically is to access your metrics/analytics, it’s not the access that’s the hard part…it’s figuring out what the data tells you, and what to do with it.
Determining how to leverage analytics using your brand’s email marketing metrics is the key to creating better, more effective email campaigns. In this blog, we’ll take you through the 5 metrics that you should always look at when crafting new campaigns to optimize your strategy and improve your campaign’s performance, and how they can be used in your analytics strategy.
Metrics to Focus On: Open Rate
First, let’s start with Open Rate. Open Rate is one of the most basic metrics you receive from email marketing campaigns, and it’s about as simple as it sounds: Open Rates reflect how many people opened your email.
Open Rates are one of the first things to focus on when looking at metrics and analytics. If you don’t have a good Open Rate — or any Open Rate, for that matter — then the other metrics are irrelevant! A good way to ensure your Open Rates stay in the green (that is, around 20%) is to focus on crafting enticing, relevant Subject Lines. By making your Subject Lines a) engaging, b) intriguing, and c) reflective of what’s coming in the email, you can encourage subscribers to take the leap and continue on to open the email.
This metric is very straightforward, but it’s important to take Open Rates with a grain of salt in your analytics endeavors. Just because an email is opened, that doesn’t mean your subscriber engaged with you in any way; they could have opened it, scanned it for half a second, and deleted it! When examining Open Rates in your analytics strategy, it’s best to use them in comparative analysis, comparing week vs. week or month vs. month, but they’re still important to consider nonetheless.
Metrics to Focus On: Click-Through Rate (CTR)
After Open Rate, Click-Through Rate (CTR) is the next metric to focus on. A “Click-Through” is basically the ultimate goal of email marketers; to have your subscribers open your email, click through and follow the links, and end up on your target page. A CTR, then, is the percentage of subscribers that click through your email to end up where you want them to be.
Your CTR can tell you a lot about your campaign in the analytics stage. Other than simply counting successful clicks, your CTR provides more nuanced insights into how appealing your offers are, how good your Call-to-Actions are, whether or not your copy and design are engaging, and more. If your offer isn’t interesting, your CTR will suffer. Confusing CTAs? Low CTR. Boring copy and design? You get the idea — low CTR.
When looking at your metrics, a CTR between 1% and 5% is considered “good,” but that depends on your industry. According to Ignite Visibility, dating industry campaigns have the highest CTRs on search-based ads, whereas tech industry campaigns have the highest CTRs on paid ads. Before deciding if your CTR needs work or is where it should be, do some research into your industry average to have a more accurate analytics comparison.
Metrics to Focus On: Conversion Rate
After CTR, we’ve got Conversion Rate to look at. Conversion Rate refers to how many people, upon receiving and opening your email, complete the desired action. The specific action you want people to take depends on your company and your campaign but can include anything from downloading resources to making a sale.
The Conversion Rate is calculated by taking the number of people who clicked on your email and dividing that by the number of people who took the desired action. So, if 10 people clicked on your email, and 7 people bought your product, your Conversion Rate is 7/10 = 70%.
The reason we care about Conversion Rates in analytics is quite simple: it shows how effective your email campaign was! If your Conversion Rate is high enough for you to meet (or exceed!) your goals, then your campaign is successful and you should continue with your existing strategy. If your Conversion Rate is not high enough to even meet your goals, then it might be time to re-evaluate your strategy. Conversion Rate gives us an incredible opportunity to evaluate our strategies, and decide if they’re serving us sufficiently or not.
Metrics to Focus On: Unsubscribe Rate
Much like Open Rates, Unsubscribe Rates are exactly what they sound like: the number of email recipients who unsubscribed from your list upon receiving a specific campaign. Why are Unsubscribe Rates important? Of course, these metrics let us know that our audience isn’t liking our emails for one reason or another, but they can also negatively impact our email deliverability.
Although nobody is ever happy about an unsubscribe, there are actually ways to leverage your current Unsubscribe Rates and decrease your future ones, by simply asking “Why?” Once someone unsubscribes from your website, you can create an optional pop-up survey allowing them to provide feedback. This will allow you to answer that “Why?” and implement changes to your future campaigns to avoid other unsubscribes for the same reason.
To proactively work on your Unsubscribe Rates — and keep them low — you can send an email in your Welcome Series about preferences. You’ll want to be explicit about what you’ll be sending them and how often, reminding them that preferences can be changed at any time. Unfortunately, unsubscribers are an inevitable part of email marketing, so you might as well make the most out of them!
Metrics to Focus On: Bounce Rate
Finally, the last metric you should focus on is Bounce Rate. Bounce Rates refer to how many emails were not successfully delivered to your email list, and can be divided into Soft and Hard Bounces, both of which have different levels of severity.
A Soft Bounce is when your email wasn’t delivered, but the reason is temporary. That includes things like your recipient’s email inbox being full or their email client being down for maintenance. A Hard Bounce is when your email wasn’t delivered, but the reason is permanent. That includes things like emailing an address that doesn’t exist (it could be a fake email or it could just have a typo) or a server blocking an email.
Neither Soft nor Hard Bounces is ideal — you’d obviously prefer for your emails to reach their recipients. Emails that Soft Bounce can often fix themselves by the next email campaign, as the recipient clears out their inbox or the client finishes up maintenance but emails that Hard Bounce needs more attention.
Emails that Hard Bounce needs to be removed from your list immediately because they can actually affect your sender’s reputation! An increase in Hard Bounces = a decrease in your sender reputation. You should always keep a close eye on this metric, especially Hard Bounces, and stay on top of cleaning your mailing list to avoid a bad sender rep.
Measuring the Effectiveness of Email Campaigns
Now that we know the five most important email marketing metrics to look at — Open Rate, CTR, Conversion Rate, Unsubscribe Rate, and Bounce Rate — and how they fit into our analytics strategy, what do we do with them? How do we actually measure the effectiveness of our campaigns?
The secret lies in the tools that you use. Depending on your ESP, you might be able to track, view, and analyze the five metrics we talked about within your platform of choice (like Klaviyo). If you’re looking outside of your ESP for analytics, there are a ton of different analytics tools that you can leverage to work smarter (not harder!) and start incorporating data into your strategy. Leadfeeder has a great list of 19 tools that you can use to track emails, so take some time to research the different options and select one that’s best for your company and strategy.
After you see the data, the next step is to use it! Take what you’ve learned about what Open Rate, CTR, Conversion Rate, Unsubscribe Rate, and Bounce Rate can tell you, evaluate your data, make changes to your strategy, test, test, test, and start the process again.
Analytics might seem intimidating, but they’re truly the key to email marketing success. Knowing and understanding where your campaigns stand, how they’re performing, and what that data means for the success of your campaign is the only way to improve. So, start tracking your data, re-evaluate your strategy when needed, set goals, and watch your progress unfold.