The email marketing metrics that make a difference to your bottom line (and why).

Email marketing is the Cinderella of online promotion, often overlooked for her more glamourous and expensive sisters. And yet  – with a little care and attention – she can outshine them all. What is more; email is getting a fresh lease of life in 2022 with the rise of subscription newsletters, online communities and patronage sites, such as Kickstarter and Patreon where communication is King.

So, what metrics do you need to know, in order to measure the improvement to your email list and why do they matter?

1. Delivery rate

This is often taken for granted, but the health of your email campaigns depends on this metric. If your emails don’t even reach the inbox, you can’t expect people to open and read them. Your delivery rate should be above 95%

Conversely, your bounce rate should be no more than 3% (preferably less). It only takes a fraction of your audience to bounce or dump you in the spam bin, before the major email platforms downgrade your sender reputation. 

If you are seeing a dip in deliverability, address it immediately. Preventative action (such as list cleaning and content scrutiny) is a lot less expensive than remedial action to get your reputation back.

2. Open rate

A good open rate indicates that people recognise your brand the subject line has done it’s job by persuading them to open. Having said that, Apple’s recent iOS changes (the Mail Privacy Protection) has made this metric more unreliable as they deliberately block tracking. I recommend segmenting Apple users separately from the rest of your audience, before looking at this statistic. 

You can benchmark your industry open rate here, but as a rule of thumb it should be over 20%.* The average for all users, across all industries is 21.63%.

If you open rate is suffering, either your subscriber list needs to be refreshed, you are sending too many (or too few!) emails or your content does match up to what your audience wants.

3. Click Rate

Your click rate will depend a little on your industry and a lot on the type and style of your email. Welcome emails, discounts, competitions and coupons all gather more action that your average newsletter. However – unless that’s your business model  – you will want to include some information about yourself as you are trying to build a relationship with your list. 

The average click-rate (all emails, all industries) is 2.62%.* If your click-rate is below that –  but your open rate is above –  this is one of the easier stats to fix. 

  • Keep your emails focused. One topic for the subject line, headline and button. Assume someone is skimreading your email on a mobile phone and make it easy for them.
  • Use A/B split testing for your button placement, text and colour. Do it work best at the top of your email, to the side or the bottom? Place bets with your co-workers and enjoy the experiment. 
  • Review your reports and segment your audience according to their interests. There’s more than one road to the same destination. For example, a recipe on oven-roasted vegetables would appeal to vegans and parents after a one-pot meal, but the language would be different.

4. Unsubscribe rate

This links back to your delivery rate as it’s preferable that people unsubscribe from your emails, rather than hit the ‘spam report’ button. However, it also delivers a snapshot on your list health and content efforts. Your unsubscribe rate should be no more than 1%. If you spot a spike after a single email send, check the content carefully. If you see it creeping up gradually, over a number of campaigns, take a closer look at your email strategy and make sure what you are sending them matches what your promised, when they first signed up.  

Final thoughts

After this, you should be ready to attack your reports with a fresh set of eyes. Just a little love and care makes all the difference, both to your readers and to your bottom line. 

All stats taken from Mailchimp’s annual benchmarking report and Campaign Monitor averages.


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