Introduction to Metrics in Email Marketing

Data is important because sending emails out is only half of the challenge. Measuring whether your campaign was successful or not is a big part of your campaign too. So how can you tell if your campaign was successful or not?

First, you need to understand how data, metrics, KPIs, and reports all fit together. Next is to learn about email marketing metrics that most digital marketers use to determine a project’s success rate.

Those metrics are open rate, click-to-open rate, unsubscribe rate, complaint rate, conversion rate, forward rate, list growth rate, bounce rate, and campaign’s ROI.

Finally, present those campaign results to stakeholders by following some industry best practices. Stakeholders are people within your organization who are somehow affected by the campaign.

Useful concepts in email marketing results

When it comes to email marketing campaign results, there are a lot of concepts that are important to know. Terms like data, metrics, key performance indicators or KPIs, and reports are all likely to be a part of your daily vocabulary as a digital marketer.

Knowing how to collect data, track metrics and KPIs, and review reports will help you analyze results and turn them into insights. These results help ensure your confidence in your decision-making. They enforce productivity, so you don’t waste time focused on tactics that aren’t working. They help you define and target your audience and they open your organization up to new opportunities. A lot of data makes up metrics, metrics make up KPIs, and KPIs make up reports.


Let’s start with data. Data refers to a collection of facts or information. These facts, numbers, or information are used to inform or plan something. When you think about how many people visit your website, how many purchases were made after you sent out a promotional email, or even something like the age breakdown of your audience, that’s all raw data.


How do you turn data into metrics? Metrics are data with additional context. If data is a number, think of metrics as a quantitative measurement of those numbers or data. Metrics help you make sense of raw data. Metrics refer to the quantifiable measurements that are used to track and assess a business objective.

For example, if you’re looking at an email marketing automation tool dashboard and you see 40 website visits from an email campaign, that’s an example of data. It’s only until you view it as a metric that it becomes a piece of useful information. If you look a little closer and see that the 40 percent is your open rate, that’s a metric.

The open rate is the percentage of users that open your email.

You can’t choose and personalize data based on your organization, but you can choose and personalize which metrics to prioritize based on your organization’s goals. Some important email marketing metrics are open to click rate, open rate, unsubscribe rate, bounce rate, and share rate.

KPIs – Key Performance Indicators

KPIs are measurements used to gauge how successful a business is in its effort to reach a business or marketing goal. KPIs are metrics, but not all metrics are KPIs. This is because KPIs are the metrics you decide are important to determine your email marketing campaign success.

You may decide that return on investment and conversion rate are the two metrics your company needs to prioritize for success. Whereas open rate isn’t a metric you’ll pay attention to. Sometimes it’s helpful to think about how your metrics fit together. Maybe you have secondary KPIs that when prioritized will help you reach your goals.

For example, if your sales are a little low, but your conversion rate seems to be on target, you might want to focus on the open rate, so that you’re getting subscribers to open the email. If they open the email, they are one step closer to buying and your sales may increase as a result.

Email marketing report

An email marketing report is a collection of KPIs. It usually includes the use of effective visuals like graphs, tables, and figures. Once you have your email marketing campaign report, you can use it to pull insights from. What did you learn? What did the figures tell you? Your reports are oftentimes included in presentations to inform stakeholders.

The importance of data, metrics, KPIs, and reports in email marketing really can’t be overstated, because they help inform your path as an organization. They help answer questions like, are you where you want to be? Are you headed in the right direction or should you pivot and adjust your tactics based on audience behaviors? Being able to answer those questions for your organization is invaluable.

Use metrics in email marketing

Metrics are an integral part of every email marketing campaign. It is important to use metrics to learn about the company audience’s behaviors and preferences which help them adjust the company’s strategies as needed.

Open rates are down

To Your Health is a brand that creates custom vitamins for its customers. Customers take a survey that includes their health and wellness goals and needs, and To Your Health develops and send them custom vitamins.

After sending the weekly newsletter for a few months to the subscribe list, they realized open rates decreased week by week. In their analytics dashboard, they can see that open rates have decreased from an acceptable open rate – of 25% – to a much lower number – of 18%. They discuss it as a team and determine there are a few things they can do to fix this issue.

First, the company decides to spend more time researching and writing effective subject lines. They choose to use punchier, more clever phrasing to get customers excited and enthusiastic about their emails.

Next, the company decides to send out two different newsletters: one to current customers and another to new customers. That way, the content fits each subscriber’s specific needs, and they won’t feel like their time is being wasted. The first solution of changing the subject lines entices subscribers to click to open the email, and the second solution of sending more targeted emails will ensure they continue opening the emails and enjoy the content week after week.

High click-to-open rates

A food delivery service, FoodNow, allows customers to fill a customized online grocery box, which is delivered to their door later that week. After customers fill their boxes, they get a confirmation email. In that confirmation email, FoodNow encourages customers to click a link back to their website.

This link automatically takes them to their box, where they can add the same items for next week, so they don’t have to edit the box later. Recently, they’ve noticed their click-to-open rate surge from 3% to 6% in the last 6 weeks. They decide to capitalize on this and include some additional suggestions in their emails.

Because FoodNow realized their customers like engaging with their emails and clicking through to their landing page, they figured they could get more sales if they add more clickable links. FoodNow adds a “suggested items for you” link in these confirmation emails, so users can add not only items they’ve purchased frequently but also items they may want to try in the future.

Increase in unsubscribes

Blake’s Beans is a large coffee company with several locations. As part of its email marketing campaign, Blake’s Beans sends out all kinds of marketing emails to subscribers. When analyzing metrics from the last month, they notice an increase in unsubscribes and a decrease in list growth. This is a problem because it means their readers aren’t engaging and/or enjoying their emails. They notice that each time they send emails out, around 3% of people unsubscribe, and their list has only grown by 1% over the past month.

To find out why subscribers are unsubscribing, and potential customers are not subscribing, they add a very brief survey to their unsubscribe page, asking for feedback about how they can better serve their base. This won’t get their old subscribers back, but it will answer questions about why they left in the first place. Next, they decide to start a referral program, encouraging current customers to invite friends to sign up for marketing emails. If someone refers to friend to sign up, they both get a coupon for 10%. This way, they’ll see list growth.

Analyzing metrics is an effective way to understand how your audience wants to engage with you. Sometimes, like in the low open rate and increase in unsubscribes examples, you’ll have to pivot your strategy to fix an issue. In other situations you might have, such as what was demonstrated in the high click-to-open rate example, you’ll notice that your audience enjoys engaging with you and you can capitalize on that.

Regardless of what the metrics tell you, it’s important to add a personal touch to your strategy. Knowing you want to open rates to increase by 5% is great, but you have to plan how that will happen.

Happy learning and good luck!

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