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Dominate Your Email Marketing by Tracking the Data that Matters

By Darren DeYoung

There is a lot to analyze when it comes to email marketing, so much that we can talk for days about what is and what isn’t the most important components of an optimized email campaign. But at the end of the day, you need to be able to see the results of your efforts and measure if your email marketing is helping your business grow.

We’ll highlight the metrics that you should be paying attention to in your email marketing efforts and explain why they are important for reaching your business goals.

Dominate Your Email Marketing by Tracking the Data that Matters

Metrics every email marketer should be tracking and paying attention to.

Open Rate

What is it? The percentage of your total subscribers who open a specific email.

First things first, if no one opens your emails you might have an issue. The open rate is important because it is the best way to tell whether your subject lines are engaging or not. An effective and engaging subject line will get users to open the email. A poor subject line could lead to a low open rate.

A low open rate does not always have a direct correlation to a poor subject line. If your recipients have image-blocking enabled on their email client, your email may not be counted as “opened” because the images were never received. This means that if they actually open the email and read the text, they won’t be included in your open rate, which can be misleading as it underreports the true numbers.

The priority is to get your emails opened. Once they are opened, you can work on other metrics, like click-through rate (CTR).

Click-through Rate

What is it? The percentage of total subscribers who clicked on a hyperlink, call-to-action (CTA), or image within a particular email.

Once a subscriber opens the email, their willingness to click within that email is a great indicator of how they are engaging with your content and how interested they are in learning more about your brand or offer. Since the goal of most emails is to get the subscriber to convert on a webpage, this is a significant metric to track and a significant step toward reaching your goal.

Every email should have a goal, such as sales, lead form submissions, or directing subscribers to your website. These goals should have a CTA, and if subscribers aren’t clicking on your CTA, there is a problem with the copy, design, CTA, or a mix of all three.

Successfully convincing a subscriber to leave their email and follow a link, only half the battle is done. Next, you need to convince them on another page to convert and make a purchase or complete another goal.

Conversion Rate

What is it? The percentage of subscribers who complete the desired action after reading your email (e.g. purchasing a product, filling out a lead generation form, etc.). This is an important metric for most marketers, as it indicates how effective your email marketing is and determines your return on investment.

After an email subscriber has clicked through your email to your website, the next goal is to get them to convert. If your email is promoting a new service, say 10% off window cleaning, you’d consider anyone who purchases this service as a conversion.

It is important to point out that ‘conversions’ does not always mean ‘purchases.’ A conversion can include clicking on a link and filling out a form. It could be spending 2+ minutes on a webpage. It could be downloading an eBook. Keep in mind your end goal when analyzing email marketing metrics -- and the end goal is the action you want the subscriber to take as a result of your email.

To successfully measure the conversion rate on your emails, you’ll need to identify the source of the click as coming from a specific email campaign. This can be done by integrating your email platform and your web analytics. If you are not able to do this from a technical perspective, find someone who can. Otherwise, you’ll be left guessing about the effectiveness of your email campaigns.

List Growth Rate

What is it? The rate at which your list is growing (i.e. rate of new subscribers compared to the rate of unsubscribers).

With email marketing, it is easy to get lost in the open and click-through rates. Although those are important, you still need to develop your list. If your list is shrinking, you better investigate. Of course, a growing list will allow you to extend your reach, expand your audience, and better position or email marketing efforts. But once you attract new subscribers, you have to keep them engaged.

According to FreshAddress, email lists decay at an average rate of 22.5% to 30% every year. This is because your contacts’ email addresses change; they abandon that old AOL address that they never use, or opt out of your email communications. Because your list will always face attrition, your email list will be a dying asset without proper care. Keep an eye on your list growth rate and pay attention to growing your subscriber list.

Database decay is a fact of marketing life and it takes effort to keep it healthy.

Return on investment (ROI)

What is it? The overall return on investment for your email campaigns.

There are several ways to calculate the ROI of your email campaigns, but however you do it for the type of business you have, make sure you can review hard numbers to track performance. Below are some different ways to track the ROI of email marketing campaigns.

Purchase Rate

This is different from a conversion rate because you’re not just trying to get readers to click on a link, read a webpage, or download a file. This measures the percentage of people who actually make a purchase through an email campaign.

Return on Ad Spend

Many business owners view email as “free.” But this can be dangerous as there are costs associated with managing an email marketing campaign:

  • Are you paying to use an email marketing platform (Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Active Campaign, Drip, etc.)?
  • Are you paying a staff member to craft and create the emails?
  • Are you paying a designer to create images for your campaigns?

These costs all add up. Therefore, tracking the profits and losses from each email campaign will help optimize your future campaigns.

Revenue Per Open Email

If you are constantly looking for opportunities to improve your campaigns, you can see which email generates the most conversions, then replicate it. You can do this by tracking revenue per open email. Not only does this metric allow you to understand how specific campaigns perform, but you can continually optimize that high-performing email over time.

Revenue Per Subscriber

By tracking revenue per subscriber (or sometimes referred to as ‘subscriber lifetime value’), you’ll understand the value of your email subscribers which will help measure the contribution they make to your bottom line. This will then help you justify your investment into email marketing, email acquisition campaigns, and other expenses related to developing and maintaining a robust subscriber list.

Track the Data That Matters

Be smart about the metrics you are tracking. Keep in mind that as the goals of your business and campaigns change, so should the email metrics you’re tracking. Stay focused on your business goals and align your email marketing campaigns with those goals, so in the end, your email marketing will be effective.

What email marketing metrics are most important for your business?

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