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September 19, 2022
Building a successful email marketing program doesn’t mean blasting out content and then forgetting about your emails after hitting “send.” Effective email marketing requires thoughtfulness, objective thinking, and repeated optimization.
The only way to think critically about your email content is to understand how it performs. This will help you identify ways to improve. This understanding only comes from one place: your email marketing metrics.
Tracking your metrics is key to improving your email marketing performance over time. But there is a lot of data to track. Which metrics are most important? Which will help you move the needle? In this article, we break down the top email marketing metrics that you should monitor.
Let’s dive into the most important email marketing metrics to help you understand what they mean, why they’re valuable, and how to calculate them.
Your open rate is one of the most important metrics to consider, which is why we listed it first. It refers to the rate at which recipients of an email campaign opened the message.
It’s important to scrutinize this metric carefully. After all, if people don’t open your messages, they won’t be exposed to much of your content. This metric is primarily influenced by the quality of your email subject lines, so spend some time on them.
Note: To further increase email open rates for Gmail users, making sure your emails land in the Primary tab (instead of the Promotions tab) is essential. (Contact us if you need help with that.)
Open rate = (number of emails read / number of emails delivered) * 100
Example: (1650 emails opened / 9,650 emails delivered) * 100 = 17% open rate
Your click-through rate refers to the number of people who click at least one link in a particular email. This is one of the most important email marketing metrics because it measures the performance of a campaign.
You can measure click-through rate per campaign or per link. If your email includes multiple calls-to-action, you might want to know the rate subscribers clicked to each one.
Clickthrough rate = (number of subscribers who click a link / number of emails delivered) * 100
Example: (1,250 subscribers click a link / 21,500 emails delivered) * 100 = 5.81% clickthrough rate
Read more about boosting this metric in our guide on improving your email open rate.
Like most email marketers, you typically have bigger goals than email engagement. You want your subscribers to take additional steps beyond just interacting with your email content.
Conversion rate refers to the number of people who click a link in an email and complete a desired action. The action can be anything you find meaningful, such as purchasing a product, submitting a form, or creating an account on your site.
Conversion rate = (Number of subscribers who completed the desired action / Number of total emails delivered) * 100
Example: (350 people completed the action / 12,500 emails delivered) * 100 = 2.8% conversion rate.
A “bounce” refers to your email service provider’s inability to deliver an email. Your bounce rate, therefore, measures the number of subscriber email addresses that didn't receive your email.
Bounce rate = (Number of bounced emails / Number of email sent) * 100
Note that unlike many of the formulas on this list, this one is calculated using “emails sent” instead of “emails delivered.”
Example: (120 bounced emails / 12,500 emails sent) * 100 = 0.96% bounce rate
Ideally, your email marketing program should be growing all the time, but the total number of subscribers isn’t a helpful metric. Growing from 10 to 20 subscribers is a big deal, but growing from 150,000 to 150,010 isn’t a big jump, so it’s best to monitor this metric as a percentage. List growth rate is how you track the growth of your email list.
You can measure your list growth rate over any period (week, month, year, etc.), just make sure to stick to that interval so you’re always comparing the same number.
List growth rate = (Number of new subscribers - unsubscribes) / (total number of emails on your list) * 100
Example: (650 new subscribers - 40 unsubscribers) / (12,000 total email addresses) * 100 = 5.08% growth
Struggling to grow your list? Check out our guide on building an ecommerce email list.
Your email forward rate refers to the rate that your recipients share your message with their contacts. Ideally, you want your subscribers to share your content with as many people as possible, so it’s good to know which emails have a high share rate so you can try to reproduce that effect. This is a good way to boost word-of-mouth marketing.
Email forward rate = (number of forwards / total number of emails delivered) * 100
Example: (28 forwards / 568 emails delivered) * 100 = 4.93% email sharing rate
Your overall ROI is an email marketing metric that measures the overall profitability of your email marketing program. It’s a key way to determine if email marketing is profitable at all.
Overall ROI = [(Sum of money gained from email marketing - sum of money spent on email marketing resources) / Sum of money spent on email marketing resources] * 100
Example: [($60,000 gained - $13,200 spent) / $13,200] * 100 = 354% ROI
Your unsubscribe rate measures the percentage of recipients who opt out of your email list. Generally speaking, you want this rate to be as low as possible.
That said, don’t be surprised if you see some unsubscribes in each email. If a subscriber genuinely doesn’t want your content (and probably won't be a customer), it’s best that they unsubscribe so as not to cost you money and disrupt your metrics.
Unsubscribe rate = (Number of unsubscribes / number of emails delivered) * 100
Example: (21 unsubscribes / 8500 emails delivered) * 100 = 0.25% unsubscribe rate.
Domain open rate refers to the number of email opens for a given domain, such as Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc. This metric is useful if you want to know how your campaigns perform for different mailbox providers, particularly if deliverability is an issue for you.
Domain open rate = (Number of email opens for a given domain / Number of emails delivered to that domain) * 100
Example: (160 emails opened on Yahoo / 1,350 emails sent to Yahoo domains) * 100 = 11.9% domain open rate
Revenue per email refers to the amount of revenue you generate from each email. Monitoring this metric can help you understand whether your marketing emails are improving or declining.
It’s best to calculate this in intervals, such as monthly or yearly. The number itself isn’t helpful. What’s more useful is how the number changes. If your revenue per email goes it up, it means you are being more efficient with your email marketing.
Revenue per email = (Total revenue / Number of emails sent)
Example: ($5,600 earned / 125 emails sent) = $44.80 per email
Revenue per subscriber tracks the amount of income you generate from each list subscriber. This helps you identify which subscribers are most valuable to your business (after all, not all subscribers are equal).
When you understand revenue per subscribers, you can create segments and send each group different types of content. For instance, your “whales” might receive information about products and services that aren’t available to everyone.
Revenue per subscriber = (Revenue from your email list / Total number of subscribers)
Example: ($25,000 generated from your list / 12,500 subscribers) = $2.00 per subscriber
Subscriber acquisition cost is a metric that few email marketers bother to track, but it’s actually quite insightful. It refers to the real cost of adding a new person to your email list.
Admittedly, this isn’t the easiest number to track. You’ll have to do some digging in all of your sales and marketing tools. You’ll also have to make some assumptions.
For instance, your marketing and sales do more than just grow your email list. Your blog, for example, brings in traffic, convinces people to buy, and captures new subscribers. It’s not totally accurate to attribute all of your blogging cost to your email list when it’s performing so many functions. You’ll have to decide how much of that cost to attribute to list growth.
Subscriber acquisition cost = (Total sales costs + total marketing cost) / (Number of new subscribers
Example: ($8,000 in marketing costs + $2,500 in sales costs) / 12,500 subscribers = $0.84 per subscriber
Tracking and understanding your email marketing metrics is key to optimizing them. If you want your email marketing program to be successful, it’s important to know the metrics we outlined on this list. Your email marketing platform will provide some of them for you, but others will require some manual calculations.