Tracking Essential Email Marketing Metrics

by Lyuben Georgiev July 8th, 2014 
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Measure by Theen

Tracking email marketing metrics allows you to see the results of the efforts you have exerted in email optimization. But what metrics you will track will depend on your specific goals. So we will first examine the metrics that each email marketer should be tracking and after that, we will see what specific metrics to track based on specific goals.

The Metrics Everyone Should Be Tracking

1. Clickthrough Rate

The CTR is the "day-to-day" metric in email marketing, as it allows calculating the performance of each individual email sent and tracking it over time. The clickthrough rate gives you an insight into the engagement that each message generates and allows you to tweak your calls-to-action, segment your subscriber list and target non-clickers and clickers with different content.

2. Conversion Rate

This metric shows you how many of the subscribers actually did what the email asked them to do – the conversion definition is tied directly to the call-to-action in the email, thus the call-to-action should have a direct relation to your email marketing goal. This is the metric which measures subscriber engagement in the most in-depth manner.

3. Bounce Rate

This metric shows how many emails never reach the recipients. "Soft" bounces are the email addresses that have temporary problems and are unavailable but valid. When the problem is cleared, the emails will either be delivered by the recipient's server or you can try resending them. "Hard" bounces are the totally undeliverable emails – the reason could be that the account has been closed, or the address was incorrect, etc. Hard bounces should be deleted from your mailing list straight away, as they could affect your reputation with the ISPs.

4. List Growth Rate

You should be tracking the changes of your subscriber list as well. Despite your efforts to expand your list, stats show that about 25% of it on average will expire every year. You should analyze your sources of subscription periodically to determine which ones are the best performers and improve the others.

5. Email Forwarding/Sharing Rate

This metric may not seem that important, but it is among the most vital ones you should definitely be tracking, because this is a way you get new contacts. To generate new leads through email sharing/forwarding, you may want to encourage your subscribers to share your emails with useful and shareable content.

6. Overall ROI

Like with every other marketing channel, in email marketing too you should have the ability to gauge the overall return on investment. You can use an SLA system to assign the different types of leads different values on the basis of their likelihood of generating revenue. Then, you can track the number of leads generated through email marketing and determine their influence on the potential and actual revenue. This metric will show the value of your email marketing as a channel for receiving tangible results. Most companies testify that email marketing has a better ROI than content marketing, social media, PPC, etc.

Goal-based Metrics To Watch

Your company will most probably have specific goals, which will be different than those of others or will change over time. Before you start/continue sending emails out, you have to determine your exact goal. Aligning your goals and the key metrics to track is vital in this regard.

1. The Growth Rate of Your Subscriber List

If you want to focus on expanding the number of your site visitors, people who subscribe to your blog, etc., you will most probably want to expand your subscriber list. You will most likely have calls-to-action such as "join our newsletter" or "subscribe to our blog" in your emails. So naturally, the most vital metric you should be tracking in this case is the subscriber list growth rate.

2. Number of New/Total Leads Generated

In case you want to focus on generating more leads, you will be sending out emails with lead generation content – the type that would require the reader to fill a form to gain access to it. In this scenario, your focus should be on tracking the number of leads generated by your email campaign every day as well as every month.

3. Rate of Conversion of Leads into Customers

If your goal is converting a larger number of leads into actual customers, your emails will most likely offer content, which will have a closer relation to your product/service and business. The calls-to-action will be set up accordingly. In this case, the main metric you should focus on tracking is the lead-to-customer conversion rate.

These points may seem obvious to you, but surprisingly enough, a vast number of marketers determine goals for their campaigns, the progress of which they then fail to track adequately, which defeats the whole purpose of the effort. You should keep tracking the changes in your goal-specific metrics both throughout the month and month for month.

Two Metrics That Don't Require Too Close Tracking

Finally, we will mention two metrics that contrary to the popular belief don't require that much engagement and tracking.

1. Open Rate

Achieving a higher open rate for your emails can bring good returns, but your focus should be rather on the clickthrough rate. In fact, the open rate metric is rather misleading – if the user's email client has image blocking, the email won't be counted as opened even if it was. This undermines the reliability of this metric, whereas the CTR gives much more objective information. In case you use the open rate to compare results from week to week, it can be of some use.

2. Unsubscribe Rate

This too gives an unreliable picture. Many subscribers won't unsubscribe even if they don't want to receive your emails anymore – they'll just quit opening or reading them. Thus, CTR and conversion rates are much better tools to measure the subscriber engagement. Checking the unsubscribe rate monthly can be helpful just for determining the overall list growth rate.

You should use your metrics wisely and measure the individual email performance, the goal progress and the email list's health adequately for effective email marketing.

Lyuben Georgiev

Lyuben Georgiev works for one of best search marketing agencies in Bulgaria; SEO PAL. He also loves to write in many popular SEO blogs such as Daily SEO Tip and Search Engine Journal

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