Email Metrics: What To Track, And Why

November 18, 2013 Steve Maurer

email metrics

Email marketing has not gone away, much to the chagrin of many would-be web prognosticators (big word for people who think they can predict the future.) I can remember back as far as 10 years ago that – even in its relative infancy – email-marketing usage was “known” to be short-lived. Something better would take its place.

Yeah, right.

I suppose that’s why my inbox gets so full that it falls off my monitor. Social media was touted to take its place. Don’t get me wrong. Social media is vitally important and is an excellent marketing tool. But think about this for a minute: Where do you get many of your social media notifications?

That’s correct . . . right in the old inbox.

And to be honest, I pay a lot more attention to my email inbox than social media sites. I don’t have time to wander all over the web. I’m here, it’s here and we get along just nicely.

So if email is still such a vital marketing tool, what should we as marketers be doing to measure our emails’ effectiveness? For starters, we should be monitoring and acting on several metrics.

The first question is: Just how do we measure our email marketing metrics?

Email Metrics – First Things First

To begin with, you need an ESP. That’s not extra-sensory perception; it’s an Email Service Provider. Sure, if you have a WordPress site, you can send some notifications from there. But if you really want to get serious about metric tracking, you need an ESP.

My provider of choice is MailChimp. If you’re starting out – or even if you’ve been in the game a while – MailChimp is worth checking out. They can analyze your metrics and generate reports that you can act on. Some other favorites, albeit more pricey, are AWeber and ConstantContact . All these services can provide you with information you need to track email campaigns and autoresponder series results.

What Metrics Should You Measure

To learn some of the basics for email marketing metrics and other marketing campaigns, I’d suggest you download the eBook, “Introduction to Inbound Marketing Analytics,” which is available from HubSpot. Written by Pamela Vaughn, it schools you in the basics of inbound marketing metric analytics.

According to Pamela, all metrics are important; but, not all of them are reliable. Open rate and unsubscribe rate are the least reliable for tracking.

Why?

Let’s take the open rate. Guys like me really screw this one up. My email client is set to block images and that’s how this metric works. When an email is opened and the pretty graphics viewed, a ping is sent to the email server.

But if the image is blocked, no ping is sent. I can read your entire email without you even knowing it.

Sneaky, huh?

And if your entire message is contained in an image, I just hit the old DELETE button.

Sorry, but that’s the way I roll.

While we’re on the subject, don’t rely on unsubscribe rates either. I use a program called MailWasher Pro that downloads just the email headers.

If I don’t like the subject line or am tired of getting email from a certain company, I just delete them from there, sometimes on autopilot. They never see the light of my inbox.

There are better things to focus on than misleading open rates anyway.

Metrics You Should Concentrate On

There are some metrics you need to track, for various reasons. They are:

  • Bounce Rate – This metric helps you uncover any potential problems with your delivery system. Soft bounces are temporary glitches, usually caused by the recipient’s mail provider or system. For instance, their inbox may be full. Hard bounces are more serious as they are often caused by closed, invalid or spoofed email addresses. Too many hard bounces will cause ISPs to cast an evil eye on you and you could get blocked for spam. Remove hard bounce addresses immediately, if not sooner.
  • Delivery Rate – When you subtract hard and soft bounces from your overall gross of sent emails, you get the delivery rate. There could be many reasons for a low delivery rate, from ESP problems to spam flags. Check this one carefully and act accordingly . . . if it doesn’t get delivered, it won’t get read.
  • List Growth Rate – Do you know how fast your email list is growing? Some attrition is inevitable; but you really want your list to grow. MarketingSherpa states that a 25% loss is not uncommon. List not growing? Time to step it up a notch.
  • Click Through Rate – Now, this is the one where you’ll get me. If you’ve got an irresistible headline and a promising offer, I just might click your link. According to Pam, CTR is the absolute cornerstone of email marketing metrics. You want to know how effective your campaign is and calculating the CTR is the way to know. And if you’re using A/B split testing, you can tweak your copy to get maximum results.
  • Email Sharing – Knowing your email forwarding and sharing rate is important. For example, if I find your offer useful, I’ve got a whole bunch of buddies I might send it to. Or I might blast it out on my social networks as well. To tap into the viral nature of social sharing, monitor this one to find out what makes us readers tick.

The last two are related, but sometimes have different outcomes. They are conversion rates and revenue per email sent. If you have your ecommerce integrated with your ESP, you can actually determine how much a prospect costs and a customer is worth. Knowing this, you’ll soon determine where to concentrate your marketing dollars.

The conversion rate may include that, but more often it’s the ultimate indicator of effectiveness on various levels. Conversion happens when you persuade the reader to do something (think CALL-TO-ACTION) and get a desired result. It may be signing up for a series, joining a membership site or asking for more information. A high conversion rate is the best indicator that what you’re doing is working.

Boiling It All Down

Not to offend you, but if you aren’t tracking your email metrics, you really don’t know how well you’re doing. And you don’t know if what you are doing is right or wrong.

Period!

If you’re sending emails from your site or you’re not tracking your metrics, well, good luck with that.

You want to succeed. You deserve to succeed.

It’s time you get some skin in the game, lay out some cash and start really analyzing what your campaigns are doing.

Then you’ll know how to grow.

What other metrics should you be watching when it comes to your overall content marketing strategy? Download our free eBook, “8 KPIs Your Content Marketing Measurement Should Include” to find out.

About the Author

Steve Maurer

Steve Maurer, Maurer Copywriting is a freelance copy and content writer in Fayetteville, Arkansas. His tagline at Maurer Copywriting , Professional Freelance Business Writing – Plain and Simple, explains both his target audience and his writing philosophy. You can meet him on LinkedIn or call him at 479-304-1086.

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