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Top 10 email marketing metrics - a refresher

21 Aug 2018 by Sadie Burgess


Do you know how well your email marketing campaigns are performing? There are some important metrics that you should be measuring on a regular basis if you want to maintain email list health and improve the ROI of your campaigns. So here is an email-marketing refresher to remind you of the basics when it comes to email marketing metrics.

Here are our top ten metrics to measure for success;

1. Open rates

Open rate refers to how many people opened your email message. Pretty straightforward, right? Wrong, because some email clients — Yahoo, your iPhone for example  — automatically open emails, thus distorting this measurement. Other email clients do not automatically load images, and because open rates are tracked with an impression pixel, if images aren’t downloaded, then the email isn’t measured as having been opened.

So if some email clients show emails as being opened when they weren’t and other email clients don’t show the email as being opened even though it was, how can you know anything? That is an excellent question.

So what do you do? The best idea is: Use it for comparison. So if your email open rates last quarter were 20 percent, and they’re 30 percent now, you’re doing better. Or look back over the emails you’ve sent in the last 3 months. Which five of those emails had the highest open rates? What did these emails have in common? Whatever it was, consider doing more of that, because clearly your subscribers like it.

The most common question about open rates is “What’s a good open rate?” Whilst he answer depends on your industry, generally an open rate of 20-to-30 percent or more is good. Don’t panic if your open rates are only in the teens though, because for some niches, like marketing consultants or ad agencies, that’s average.

2. Click-through rates

These are also pretty easy to understand. If someone clicks one of the links in your email message, you’ve got a click. The click-through rate, measured as a percentage, is how many recipients out of one hundred clicked somewhere on your email message. If 25 out of 100 people clicked, you’ll have a 25 percent click-through rate.

So what’s a good click-through rate? Once again it depends on your industry, but anything over a 10 percent click-through rate is pretty decent. If you clear 20 percent, you should be very proud.

There is also variation on click-through and open rates that is fairly common and can be quite helpful. It’s called the “click-to-open rate.” Click-to-open rate refers to how many people who opened your email also clicked on it. If you’ve got a weak open rate, but a strong click-to-open rate, it suggests your email’s subject line wasn’t strong enough.


Email metrics: 10 metrics you need to understand to be able to measure the success of your campaign.

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3. Unsubscribe rate

This is how many people out of 100 unsubscribed from your email message. Each email has its own unsubscribe rate. Unsubscribe rates are best kept to about 0.2%,. What you should look for is a spike in unsubscribes — it’s a signal that you sent an email your readers didn’t like.


4. Hard bounces

Hard bounces happen when you’ve sent a message to an email address that no longer exists. The major ISPs — Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail for example — monitor hard bounces very closely.

You should remove people from your list after even one hard bounce. Some email service providers will do this for you, like e-shot™ but keep vigilant: Be responsible for your own list.

5. Conversion rate or earnings per email

All of your emails have a goal from the outset and this metric is the key one to measure against that goal – whether you are looking for a form to be completed, a quote requested or even a purchase made this is the metric that will measure the success of your campaign.


6. Delivery rate

A very bad deliverability rate would be 80 percent. Anything over 95 percent is usually good enough to not worry too much about. With e-shot™ you can easily monitor this with our email Forensics tool and always know exactly what your delivery rate is.


7. Inbox placement

This is similar to delivery rate. Basically, it measures whether you made it into a subscriber’s inbox, or was sent to their bulk mail folder.

Inbox placement most definitely matters. One of the best ways to improve it is to get your email open and click-through rates up. The second best way would be to practice some list hygiene — i.e., consider deleting the email addresses of anyone who hasn’t opened or clicked on one of your emails in the last six to 12 months. The odds are good that when you cut those names, you’ll be cutting people who weren’t even seeing your emails anyway.

8. Complaint or abuse rate

This is how many out of 100 subscribers actually labeled your email message as spam. Abuse complaints are serious, but even well managed lists will get a few here and there.

Don’t let your complaint rate get over 0.05 %. An average complaint rate is about .02%, but, as before, it depends on which industry you’re in.

Want a simple way to reduce complaint rates? Don’t hide the unsubscribe link. The top reason people mark emails as spam is because they don’t want the hassle of finding the hidden unsubscribe link and then going through the steps some marketers require to get off the list.

9. Forward rate

This metric measures how often people open, read, and then liked your email message so much that they sent it along to someone else. 

Some companies only classify a share as when the email is forwarded, while other count social media shares, too. You do have social media sharing buttons in your email messages, right?

10. Churn rate

This measures how much your list is growing after the unsubscribes, complaints, and hard bounces are taken into account. Churn rate is an important measurement, but many email marketers actually don’t know the churn rate of their list.

An average churn rate is about 25% per year, which means most lists are losing 25% of their subscribers every year. The implication of this is important. It means most marketers have to add 25% to their list (in new subscribers) every year, just to keep the lists the same size.


Here at e-shot our account managers are on hand to answer any query you have about your campaigns from concept and design to reporting and statistics. These measurements are all easily found within e-shot's reporting  dashboard and email forensics tools, so you can keep a close eye on all these essential metrics.


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Tags: KPIs Open rates Click-through rates Bounces Conversion rates

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