How to Measure Email Marketing Performance – Checklist

Alexandra Belski Alexandra Belski
Reading time:  6  min.

With email marketing being the most reliable form of communication for 77% of consumers, sending a newsletter is essential to growing brand awareness and building an audience. To achieve your marketing goals, it’s important to closely monitor email newsletter analytics and adjust your campaign along the way. In this post, you’ll find the main indicators that help improve the performance of email marketing.

How to measure email marketing performance - Checklist [2021]

Why Measure Email Marketing Performance?

Bloggers usually start a newsletter with a particular goal in mind, be it growing brand awareness, driving conversions, or getting new leads. Here are the main reasons to track email newsletter statistics: 

  • Improve your offer. Email tracking allows marketers to gather valuable insights into how their audience interacts with their content and then adopt marketing strategies based on those insights.
  • Measure and increase engagement. Based on the data collected, you can tailor your content to your audience’s needs and keep your community engaged.
  • Discover new audiences. Email marketing effectiveness statistics can shed light on your target audience and improve your outreach strategy.
  • Save money. Use statistics to optimize campaigns, in order to avoid wasting time or resources on strategies that don’t work.

What Metrics Should I Track?

To help you make email marketing a success story, we’ve compiled six of the most important metrics. Tracking them will allow you to avoid spam filters and always reach your recipients’ mailboxes. To make measurement more efficient, be sure to:

  1. Set a tracking schedule. It’s important to choose your timing (whether you’ll track emails weekly, monthly, etc.), so that you can see patterns of change.
  2. Define your goals. Tracking will only be helpful if you’ve clearly set your goals so that you can move in the right direction.
  3. Improve your newsletter. The metrics below will help you understand what’s working for your audience and what’s not, so make sure to improve your campaign based on these findings.

1. Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is the percentage of your emails that weren’t delivered successfully. There are two types of bounces:

  • Hard bounces. These are emails that weren’t delivered because of invalid email addresses.
  • Soft bounces. Deliverability isn’t possible due to server issues or the recipients’ inboxes were full. Email clients will usually try to deliver your message within three days in the case of a soft bounce.

High bounce rates are indicative of an irrelevant subscriber list. With email marketing databases expiring by about 22.5% per year, it’s important to regularly clean your mailing list and delete invalid contacts. Otherwise, email service providers might perceive you as an unwanted sender and start directing your emails to spam folders, which can jeopardise the success of your upcoming mail campaigns.

2. Delivery Rate

Delivery rate determines the percentage of emails that end up in your recipients’ inboxes. This metric shows the health of your mailing list. It’s automatically calculated by most email marketing software, but you can work it out yourself: take the number of total emails sent, subtract the number of bounces, and divide by the total number of emails sent.

Ideally, your delivery rate should be about 95%. If you have lower figures, make sure to clean your subscriber base, as there must be invalid or recently unsubscribed contacts on your existing list. Then, try to improve newsletter content. For example, email clients don’t like overly long emails and might not deliver them. In addition, subscribers are likely to mark irrelevant content as spam. Finally, complicated designs can also cause deliverability problems.

3. Open Rate

Open rate is the percentage of emails that were opened by recipients out of the total number of emails sent. You can increase your open rate in the following ways:

  • Write catchy subject lines. This is what encourages users to open your emails. Use your subject line to establish the value of your newsletter content, but don’t oversell it. Also, pay attention to the first lines of your email, as they are visible in preview mode. Try out subject line tester tools to refine your emails.
  • Run A/B tests. To determine which kinds of subject lines work for your audience, consider testing different options for each newsletter. Thus, you can understand which lines encourage people to open your emails. Use them to your advantage.
  • Send emails at the optimal time. Some hours yield more email opens. For example, 10am and 8pm. Take advantage of those moments during the day when people get to sit down and look through their mailboxes in order to reach them right away. 
  • Schedule an appropriate newsletter frequency. Find out how often your audience wants to hear from you and adjust your marketing campaign accordingly.

However, remember that your open rate is not always a reliable metric to assess a marketing campaign, as some email service providers can skew the figures by automatically opening emails, etc.

4. Click-Through Rate

Click-through rate (CTR) is the most important KPI for email newsletters, as it allows you to track clicks in emails and determine whether your offer is interesting. CTR is the percentage of people who chose to engage with your newsletter content and click-through to your website.

A good CTR is about 15%. So, if your newsletter yields more clicks, you’re delivering highly engaging content and using effective CTAs. Otherwise, here are a few tips on how to improve your CTR:

  • Bring value. The more useful content you share, the more clicks you’ll drive.
  • Personalize. By segmenting your audience and creating content with each group in mind, you’ll make the newsletter much more relevant for subscribers and increase your CTR.
  • Optimize links. Your links and/or CTA buttons may not be visible or optimized. Make sure to work on them.

5. Conversion Rate

Conversion rate is the percentage of people who clicked-through to your website and converted into leads by completing an action, such as subscribing to your mailing list, making a reservation, filling out a survey, etc. 

If you track traffic from emails and have a high open rate and click-through rate, but your conversions are low, the problem is likely to be with landing pages, where customers don’t take action. Think about how long it takes for users to convert after subscribing and whether you can speed up this process. For example, by adding CTAs, personalizing landing pages, etc.

6. Unsubscribe Rate

Unsubscribe rate shows the percentage of people who decided to opt out of receiving your newsletter. Basically, it shows the number of people who appreciate your content and mailing frequency. The average unsubscribe rate is a little lower than 2%, but it may differ for each industry.

Unsubscribes happen for many different reasons, such as:

  • Wrong frequency. While it may seem that the more content you provide, the happier your subscribers will be, in reality, excessive mailing can slow down your growth. Meanwhile, if you reach out too rarely, subscribers might simply forget about your brand.
  • Lack of optimization. Users might be opening your content on various devices that display content differently. Make sure to optimize your newsletter for different screens. 
  • You don’t bring value. Your newsletter should provide relevant content and bring value. If users can’t relate to your emails, they won’t take long to unsubscribe. Consider segmenting your audience and personalizing content for each group.

Note that not every marketing software automatically removes unsubscribed users from your list. Some of them might require you to manually delete such addresses after each request. Make sure to keep an eye on this process to avoid any legal trouble.

How to Avoid Spam Filters

Email software tools are constantly upgrading their spam filters to prevent the delivery of irrelevant emails. Basically, these filters focus on blocking irrelevant and unsolicited content from going to subscribers’ inboxes if those subscribers didn’t give permission to receive said content. Spam filters don’t normally share their filtering practices, but there are few things you can do to avoid them:

  • Be relevant. Your newsletter content should live up to what you promised your subscribers in the beginning, correspond to the topic, etc.
  • Don’t send too many links. Emails with excessive links are a red flag for spam filters. A better approach is to send a single link and direct the user to a landing page with other links.
  • Avoid overly long emails, as they might easily be filtered into spam folders.
  • Use a recognizable sender address. It’s good practice to send emails from your personal address or an address that contains your brand’s name. Thus, users can easily recognize you and won’t report your messages as spam.
  • Make sure your IP isn’t blacklisted. If your emails get blocked, check whether your IP is listed in anti-spam databases. If your IP does appear in such a database, you need to find out the reason why this happened, fix the problem on your end, contact the site that blacklisted your address, and follow their instructions.
  • Avoid using spam words. Some words, whether used in the subject line or throughout the email body, can trigger spam filters and get your email blocked. Here are a few examples of spammy words: advertisement, cheap, credit, deal, discount, free, promotion, etc.
  • Don’t buy subscriber lists. While purchasing subscriber bases is a legal violation, this practice can also get your emails blocked by spam filters, as such bases usually have plenty of invalid addresses. Furthermore, sending a newsletter to contacts who never subscribed to it can also jeopardise your entire marketing campaign.
  • Clean your mailing list. With the average subscriber database degrading at about 22.5% each year, it’s very important to constantly monitor your list and remove invalid contacts. This will help decrease your bounce rate and avoid having your messages sent to spam folders.
  • Ask to confirm subscriptions. By using a two-step subscription confirmation, you’ll make sure that you target only those interested in getting your newsletter and keep your list clean.
  • Don’t deceive users in the subject line. While it’s tempting to promise the moon and the stars in your subject line, once users see that the email doesn’t live up to that promise, they might report it as spam. So, make sure to align your subject line with your actual offer found in the email. 
  • Include an Unsubscribe link. It’s legally binding and also good practice to allow users to easily opt out from getting your newsletter. First, they’ll do it anyway if they want, and second, if the “Unsubscribe” link is too hard to find, users might find it easier to simply mark your email as spam, which will affect your deliverability rate.

How to Measure Your Newsletter Performance

Measuring newsletter performance can provide a lot of useful insights, which can help improve said performance. Try to focus on and enhance KPIs that are important and relevant to your business objectives. Automate data collection using email marketing software and take the time to properly analyze email newsletter performance. With a mindful approach, success won’t take long to achieve!

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