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Email Marketing KPIs

What is the goal of your email marketing?

You can have more than one goal.

  • To grow a subscriber database. If your focus is on growing the top of your funnel — attracting more visitors to your site, signing up more blog subscribers, getting more people to use your free tools, that kind of thing — your goal will probably be growing your subscriber list. Your emails will likely contain calls-to-action such as “Subscribe to Our Blog” or “Join Our Weekly Email List.” So of course, the most important metric you should be tracking for this goal is the growth rate of your subscriber list.
  • To generate more leads. You should be sending emails that offer lead generation content — in other words, content that requires the viewer to fill out a lead capture form in order to access it. You should be tracking how many leads you’re capturing every day, and every month. You can decide to focus on all leads generated, or only new ones added to your database, depending on your priorities. 
  • To convert more existing leads into customers. If this is your goal, the emails you’re sending will likely provide content more closely related to your business and your product or service. Your calls-to-action may include “Get a demo,” “Watch a Video of Our Product in Action,” or “Start a Free Trial.” If this is your goal, you should be tracking changes in your lead-to-customer conversion rate.

Which metrics you’ll need to track in order to determine how you’re progressing toward that goal?

Overall ROI

Total revenue divided by total spend.

  • Example: ($1,000 in additional sales – $100 invested in the campaign)/$100 invested in the campaign * 100 = a 900% return on investment for the campaign.
  • Email marketing has the highest return on investment for small businesses. (Campaign Monitor, 2019) Companies that
  • A/B test every email see email marketing returns that are 37% higher than those of brands that never include A/B tests.
  • Marketers who use segmented campaigns note as much as a 760% increase in revenue. (Campaign Monitor, 2019).

Email Conversion Rate (how successful your newsletters are at actually generating prospects and leads)

The percentage of email recipients who clicked on a link within an email and completed the desired action, such as filling out a lead generation form or purchasing a product.

So if you’re sending an email to offer your audience the chance to download, say, a free ebook, you’d consider anyone who actually downloads that ebook to be a conversion. In order to measure the conversion rate on your emails, you’ll need to integrate your email platform and your web analytics. You can do this by creating unique tracking URLs for your email links that identify the source of the click as coming from a specific email campaign.

If your goal is to generate leads, conversion rates show you how successful your newsletters are at actually generating prospects and leads.

Click-Through Rate for Email (how many people on your list are interested in learning more about your brand or your offer)

The percentage of people who clicked on at least one link in your email message). It lets you easily calculate performance for every individual email you send. From there, you can track how your CTR changes over time. It’s also frequently used for determining the results of A/B tests, as these tests are often designed with the intention of finding new ways to get more clicks in your emails.

It gives you direct insight into how many people on your list are engaging with your content and interested in learning more about your brand or your offer.

  • The industry average email click-through rate is 2.13%. (GetResponse, 2020)
  • Friday is typically the day with highest click-through rates potential, at 2.7%. (Campaign Monitor, 2020)
  • Over 20% of marketers surveyed say that email design is improving their email engagement. (HubSpot, 2020)
  • Mobile-friendly email is the second most-used tactic email marketers to improve their performance. (HubSpot, 2020)

List Growth Rate

The rate at which your email list is growing.

Example: (500 new subscribers – 100 unsubscribes and email/spam complaints) ÷ 10,000 email addresses on the list * 100 = 4% list growth rate.

There’s a natural decay of your email marketing list, and it expires by about 22.5% every year — which means that it’s important to grow your subscriber list and keeping it at a healthy size.

Email Open Rate

The percentage of email recipients who open a given email.

 It’s an inaccurate and unreliable metric for marketers, as it underreports your true numbers. A large percentage of your email users likely have image-blocking enabled on their email client. This means that even if they open the email, it won’t be included in your open rate.

Use it as a comparative metric. For instance, if you compare the open rates of this week’s email send to last week’s email send (both to the same lists) it might give you some insight.

  • Tuesdays see the highest email open and email unsubscribe rates. (Campaign Monitor, 2019)
  • In the U.S., 21% of email opens happens between 9 a.m. and noon. (Litmus, 2019)
  • Email subject lines feature 43.85 characters on average. (AWeber, 2019)
  • 45% of small businesses with effective or very effective email copy have average open rates of 26% or higher. (AWeber, 2020)

Be focused on optimizing the clickthrough rates instead of the subject lines for higher open rates.

Lindsay Kolowich Cox,

Unsubscribe Rate

The percentage of email recipients unsubscribe from your send list after opening a given email.

Many subscribers who are tired of receiving email messages from your brand won’t bother to go through the formal unsubscribe process. They’ll just stop opening, reading, and clicking on your email messages.

That’s why it’s much more effective to measure subscriber engagement by clickthrough rates and conversion rates.

Lindsay Kolowich Cox,

From there, you can keep an eye out on unengaged subscribers so you can consider removing them at some point, like we went over earlier.

Checking it monthly is helpful for calculating your overall list growth rate. 

Email Bounce Rate

The percentage of your total emails sent that could not be successfully delivered to the recipient’s inbox.

  • Soft bounces are the result of a temporary problem with a valid email address, such as a full inbox or a problem with the recipient’s server. 
  • Hard bounces are the result of an invalid, closed, or non-existent email address, and these emails will never be successfully delivered. You should immediately remove hard bounce addresses from your email list, because internet service providers (ISPs) use bounce rates as one of the key factors to determine an email sender’s reputation. 

Sending emails to people who aren’t engaged with your emails (called “graymail”) can hurt the deliverability of your email overall. Email clients might get tipped off by low engagement rates and deliver email from known-graymail senders straight to recipients’ “junk” folders, meaning your emails will technically get sent and delivered, but won’t necessarily be seen.

The average email deliverability across all email service providers is 79.6%. (EmailToolTester, 2019)

Email Sharing/Forwarding Rate

The percentage of email recipients who clicked on a “share this” button to post email content to a social network, and/or who clicked on a “forward to a friend” button.

Encourage your readers to pass along your email to a friend or colleague if they found the content useful, and start tracking how many new people you can add to your database this way. 

Discover which types of articles and offers tend to get shared the most, and use that insight when you plan email campaigns in the future.


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