Top 10 Metrics for Email Marketing Success

In this article, I've listed for you all of the metrics I recommend any email marketer be tracking, recording and analyzing as part of their email marketing campaigns. Too often, companies push messaging out to their subscribers or purchased email lists and don't pay attention to the results in an effective way. Almost every email marketing tool out there provides a majority of these metrics if not all of them, so now is the time to start yourself a good old fashioned Excel spreadsheet (at a minimum) and begin tracking each of these items so that you can make more informed decisions about campaigns to come and make the most of your spend (in time and money).

What you can do with each of these metrics is:
  1. Try to determine what the industry average is. Look at reports from Forrester or ClickZ or hire individuals to manage your email marketing who have worked in your specific industry.
  2. Look at past stats for your company to set a benchmark for a minimum level of success. You can always be improving.
  3. Set a desired state for each metric at the industry average, twice your existing stat, or whatever feels most comfortable as an aggressive yet attainable goal.

You should be tracking as many of these metrics as possible by campaign.

  • Sales: Quantity of leads, quantity of sales converted off of an email referred website visitor, or actual revenue generated off of those click-throughs.
  • ROI: Calculate the costs (in both software, tools and time spent) for each email campaign and subtract that from the total revenue generated. You can get pretty complex with ROI calculations beyond this simple formula, but I won't get into that here.
  • Conversion Rates: The % of email referred visitors who convert into a sale or lead.
  • Value of an email subscriber: The number of subscriptions divided by the revenue generated from email marketing.
  • Total number of email subscribers.
  • Unsubscribe Rate: Usually you can get this from the tool you're using to send & manage your email list, provided to you by campaign.
  • Customer frequency: Average number of unique visitors driven by email each month.
  • Open Rate: This is a good guage of how effective your subject line is in grabbing the attention of recipients. Also mixed into this is a value of your brand's awareness or affinity among subscribers - loyal customers may be more inclined to open regardless of the effectiveness of the subject line, eager to find deals and promotions being announced.
  • Click-through Rate: The % of opened emails that generated a click through to your desired URL. Similar to "Open Rate" but this one is a measure of how effective your email's content is in generating enough interest to drive that recipient to become a web-site visitor to get more information.
  • Deliverability: In some tools, you can also find a metric called "Bounce Rate" which will tell you the % of emails sent that came back as "Undeliverable" because either the email address is no longer valid or the email could not be delivered for another reason such as that email service provider's server was down.

More on deliverability:
You should learn to cleanse your list based on which emails are reported as undeliverable so that you don't continue sending emails to these over and over. However, more importantly, if the % is high, look at two things:
  1. The source you used for obtaining the email. If you purchase emails from a list and this particular list has a high bounce rate, you'll want to talk to the source to make sure you're getting your money's worth. 
  2. The lead capture form you are using to capture emails from subscribers yourself: 
 If you are obtaining the emails yourself but the bounce rate on deliverability is high, consider putting in an "email verification" process where you provide two fields for entering email and make sure they match (this prevents what's called "fat-fingering": a mistakenly inputted email address) or an email verification link sent to that address after the form is submitted. In the latter case, you plan not to use the email address in marketing campaigns until the link is clicked to verify the address is correct, however this is likely to bring down the likeliness that each person will fully convert into a subscriber since it requires an additional step.