11 Key Email Marketing Metrics and How to Use Them

11 Key Email Marketing Metrics and How to Use Them

One of the biggest keys to successful email marketing is to constantly analyze and improve your campaigns. The way to do that is by tracking a range of metrics and using that information to find areas that need improvement.


There are quite a few of these metrics, which means there’s both a lot of analysis to perform and a lot of useful data to be gained.


11 Key Email Marketing Metrics and How to Use Them


Here’s a list of 11 metrics that will give you the data you need to make sure your campaigns are always improving.


1 – Open Rate

The most basic of all email marketing metrics, open rate is also one of the most useful. Simply put, it’s the percentage of your campaign’s emails that have been opened.


How to Use It: This metric is especially useful to gauge the effectiveness of your subject lines. Regardless of your email’s content, your subject line is what convinces people to actually open your email, even if they don’t click on the content.


Try new things with your subject lines, and compare the open rates of each. Repeat your experiments to confirm the accuracy of your data, and see what generates more opens. Then take that successful subject line and test it against a new one.



2 – Clickthrough Rate (CTR)




CTR is the first of two KPIs that are crucial to tracking your campaign’s performance. It measures the percentage of people that clicked on the links in your email.


How to Use It: A low CTR is indicative of ineffective email content. That can be unconvincing copy, bad call-to-action strategy, or a poor concept. Following email copy best practices goes a long way towards improving CTR.


Poor CTR may also indicate a problem with your audience targeting. If your email content is absolutely fantastic, but isn’t very relevant to your audience, people may open your emails but they won’t click on your links.


If you’re confident in the content of your email, consider how relevant your message is to the people you’re sending to.


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3 – Conversion Rate

This is the second of the KPIs that give you a clear measure of success. This is the percentage of people who open your email, click your links, and then take the action you’re hoping they’ll take – whether that’s a blog subscription, downloading a free trial, or even making a purchase.


How to Use It: A very low conversion rate means that people who are clicking on your links aren’t taking that desired action. There are a few possible reasons for this:

  • Your email content and the landing page your links lead to need to be message-matched. If people read your email about a particular offer, but that offer isn’t the main feature on the landing page they end up on, they’ll be confused and disconnected.
  • Your target audience is wrong. Much like the CTR metric, if people are ending up on your landing page and your message isn’t relevant to them, they won’t convert.
  • Your landing page is unconvincing. Landing page optimization is a separate topic entirely; if you need to polish your pages, check out these landing page best practices.



4 – Bounce Rate



When you send email marketing campaigns, not all of those emails will reach their recipient. When an email doesn’t reach its recipient address, it’s called a bounce. Bounce rate is the percentage of your emails that bounce. These are separated into two different types.


Soft bounces are a temporary failure, such as if the recipient’s inbox is full. A soft bounce doesn’t necessarily mean that a retry won’t be successful.


Hard bounces, on the other hand, represent a problem that permanently prevents the email from reaching the inbox, such as if the email address no longer exists.


Check your bounce rates against your open rates to get a good idea of your recipient list’s quality. If your campaigns have high hard-bounce rates, your email list most likely contains a large amount of bad data and needs to be cleaned.


If your target list is opt-in, for example a newsletter subscriber list, it’s worth considering adopting a double-opt-in strategy; require subscribers to receive and click a verification email when they sign up for your mailing list. This is a fantastic way of ensuring your list’s quality and therefore lower bounce rates.


5 – Unsubscribes

Your email platform will report how many people unsubscribed from each email you send. Part of ensuring your emails are CAN-SPAM compliant is including a functional unsubscribe link. A clear, obvious unsubscribe option builds trust with your recipients as well.


How to Use It: If your unsubscribe rate is high, either your audience targeting or your message is off. Ideally, the people receiving your email are gaining value from your messages and therefore don’t want to unsubscribe. There will always be a small percentage of people that unsubscribe, but you want to keep it low.


High unsubscribe rates can negatively impact your future email sends as well. Unsubscribes are a part of what internet service providers use to calculate your domain’s sender score, which gauges how likely your emails are to be spam.


It’s important to make sure that your emails are valuable to the recipients. If you’re sending mass cold emails, this comes down to having a very high-quality list.


6 – List Growth




This metric really only applies to opt-in lists, since cold lists don’t naturally grow. It’s simple – compare your new subscribers with the number of unsubscribes.


Lists decay naturally through unsubscribes and hard bounces, so a certain small steady loss is to be expected.


How to Use It: For opt-in campaigns, replenishing your list means engaging people to subscribe to your emails. You do this by constantly creating fantastic content and enticing potential leads with value.


For cold campaigns, replenishing your list is as simple as purchasing more contacts from a reputable data provider.


7 – Spam Reports

Just like unsubscribes, when your emails are reported as spam, your future campaigns’ deliverability can be impacted. The more your campaigns get flagged as spam, the more likely it is that later sends will be treated as spam.


How to Use It: If you see your emails being reported as spam, your copywriting and email design might need revising. If your email looks like spam, it’ll get treated like spam, so ensure your copywriting is top-notch and your email designs are fantastic.


Once again, you should also check your audience and the relevancy of your message to that audience. If someone gets an email from you that seems totally irrelevant to them, they’re much more likely to report it as spam.


The same thing can happen if your unsubscribe link is obscure or hard to find. Some people will report your email as spam out of frustration if they can’t figure out how to unsubscribe from it.


8 – Email Forwarding




On the other side on the coin, if people are forwarding or otherwise sharing your email with others, it’s an indicator that your email content and targeting is on point. Your email is so valuable that your recipients feel others should see it, too.


How to Use It: If your email is getting shared, take that as a sign that you’re doing something right. Your message is perfectly tailored to your recipients, and contains real value. Analyze your email’s content and try to identify exactly what made it so valuable.


Once you know that, you can design new emails with similar content and value, and be confident that they will probably perform fairly well too.


9 – Engagement Times

We’ve talked a lot about email content, but the actual day and time you send email is also a major success factor. There are plenty of articles about this topic out there – in some cases including extensive studies – but they often provide contradictory data.


How to Use It: Articles and studies provide a good starting point, but ultimately your recipients are unique and what worked for others might not work for you. The best method to figure out what works for you is to track engagement over time for your campaigns and identify what days and times consistently perform better.


Then keep using that schedule.


10 – Return on Investment




ROI is the ultimate KPI for judging overall success of your campaign.  Track how much actual money you made from sales generated by the campaign. Subtract from that the spend you invested in the campaign.


How to Use It: If your campaigns are making money, iterate on them. Change one thing, such as the subject line, and test it again. If the subject line performs better than the previous one, keep it and change something else. Rinse, repeat, and keep improving your campaigns – and your ROI.


If, on the other hand, your email campaigns are losing money, you need to reassess each part of the campaign from the ground up and identify where your biggest downfalls are.




This basic overview of metrics for email marketing provides a brief look at how you can optimize your campaigns for success. If your email campaigns are cold, the best tool for the job is Clickback MAIL.


It has a built-in list cleaning service, which filters out any bad data and spam traps from your list. It also comes with a range of professionally-designed templates, and checks your content in real-time to make sure you aren’t using phrases and formatting that set off red flags for spam filters.


All this, plus its range of unique features, provide industry-leading deliverability. It’s the best tool you can use to succeed with cold email marketing.


See it in action for yourself with a live 1-on-1 demo.


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