A Beginner’s Guide to Email Marketing Metrics

Posted by Hannah Lapin on Jun 11, 2020 9:00:00 AM

Email Metrics

One of the key differentiating factors between an email marketing platform and a mail group like Gmail, is an email marketing platform offers comprehensive email marketing metrics. And while every small business has different needs, there are universal email metrics that all businesses should be tracking. Email metrics can be a powerful tool to help businesses gauge audience interest on their emails and help identify opportunities for improvement. We know these metrics can seem complicated at first, yet we are here to guide you and make it easily digestible. We believe with consistent efforts and just 30 minutes per week, you can improve your email metrics, and therefore drive business and improve your ROI. (Average ROI for email marketing is $42 per every $1 spent, according to Oberlo). Stick with us as we dive into some of the key email marketing benchmarks, what they mean, and how they can help you acquire more business. 


Open Rate

Let's start with open rate, which indicates how many people are opening your emails. An open rate is the percentage of recipients who open a given email.  For instance, if you send an email to 200 recipients, and 50 people open the email, your email has a 25% open rate. Average open rates vary by industry, but as a standard benchmark,  Constant Contact says to aim for a 16%. Some of the factors that contribute to your email being opened are:

  • The subject line: Which would you rather open “Here is my June Newsletter,” or “Unlock positive cash flow this June?” The more enticing the subject line, the more likely people are to open it.
  • The time of day: Are you more likely to open an email at midnight or at lunch time? Timing can have an impact on the number of people who open your business emails.
  • The quality of your list: If your list is purchased, they will not be expecting to hear from you or even find your lists relevant. If your list is clients you have established relationships with, they will be more likely to engage with your content.

When improving your open rate, keep it simple and test one variable at a time. This will help you better gauge the effects. Also, note that email marketing is a process. It is unlikely that you will have your target open rate on your first email or even by your fifth email. However, do not be discouraged. If you put 30 minutes a week into improving your open rate, you will reach the industry average open rate in no time.  Plus, we are here to guide you and provide you with the tools to build a successful email marketing strategy.

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Click-through Rate

Once you've mastered open rate, you can move onto click-through rate, which indicates the engagement of recipients who opened your email. The click-through rate, or CTR, is the percentage of email recipients who opened your email AND clicked. So, in our previous example, if 200 people received the email, 50 people opened the email, and 10 people clicked on the email, your email has a 20% CTR. Again, average CTRs vary by industry, yet HubSpot Marketing Software says to use 7.8% as a benchmark. While open rate is a reflection on your list and subject line, CTR is a reflection on the actual body of the email. Here are some factors that can impact your click-through rate:

  • The inclusion of an image in your email: Email marketing platform Mailchimp found that email campaigns with pictures had a 42% higher CTRs than email campaigns without images. However, if your email has over ten images, it will negatively impact your CTR.
  • The inclusion and placement of CTAs: CTAs or Calls-to-Action are buttons that tell the reader what to do next, such as “Read More,” or “Contact Us.” Including a CTA and placing it visibly and strategically within your email will improve your click-through rate.
  • The quality of your email: This is the biggest factor and the hardest to fix. We will include more guides on creating high quality emails, but for now a key thing to keep in mind is the relevancy of content to your audience.

Like open rate, improving your click-through rates require consistent efforts. Yet, we think you can spend less than half an hour per week toward on improving your click-through rate and see substantial results within one month. Stick with us and follow our blog for expert guidance. 


Unsubscribe Rate

The unsubscribe rate indicates how many email recipients do not want to receive your emails and is calculated as the percentage of email recipients who open your email and indicate they do not wish to receive further communications from you. So, if one person out of your 200 recipients unsubscribes, you have a 0.5% unsubscribe rate. As a benchmark, HubSpot Marketing Software says to aim for 0.48% or less. The unsubscribe rate is a tool to keep your email list healthy (this is important to make sure email service providers do not block your emails from going through), and make sure you are targeting the right audience. Do not worry if your unsubscribe rate is high. There are many reasons people unsubscribe from emails including:

  • The provider sent too many emails- This is okay if the majority of your email list is engaged with your emails.
  • The content is no longer relevant- This is to be expected if a client no longer needs information regarding your brand.
  • The recipient never signed up for your email in the first place- This is why we always recommend organically engaging your contacts, instead of purchasing lists.

The more you whittle out your email list to the people who want to hear from you, the higher your open rates and CTRs will be.

Essentially, open rate, CTR, and unsubscribe work together to give you a clear picture of how your emails are performing. The more you improve all three, the better your emails will become, and the more business you will draw. Plus, with consistent efforts and 30 minutes per week, you will see optimal results. Remember, Oberlo found that for every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can make $42 in return. That's a 4,100% ROI! 

In order to gauge these metrics and better track your results, we recommend signing up for an email marketing platform with reporting capabilities, such as Constant Contact.  Sign up for your FREE 60-day trial here. For additional marketing tools, see our Marketing Solutions Resource Page

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Related: 7 Components of a Social Media Marketing Strategy, Why Small Businesses Need Email Marketing Platforms

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