We know today that 52% of marketers plan to increase spending on email marketing and 68% believe email is core to their businesses. Before sending your next email, pause for a few minutes and ask yourself: What is the goal of my email marketing? Is it to grow my subscriber database? Generate more leads? To convert more existing leads into customers? Whatever you decide your goal is (and you can have more than one), the next thing you need to do is figure out which metrics you'll need to track in order to determine how you're progressing toward that goal.
Let's take a look at the metrics you should be paying attention to in your email marketing efforts. The lifetime value of an email address, long-term loyalty and satisfaction, health of your email list and ROI are the top metrics to measure to reach your goals. No metric is meaningless, but you should use several metrics to get a holistic picture.
1) Clickthrough Rate
Clickthrough rate is a very important metric for all email marketers to be tracking, as it gives you direct insight into how many people on your list are engaging with your content and interested in learning more about your brand or your offer.
2) Conversion Rate
The definition of a conversion is directly tied to the call-to-action in your email, and your call-to-action should be directly tied to the overall goal of your email marketing, making the conversion rate one of the most important metrics for determining the extent to which you're achieving your goals.
3) Bounce Rate
Bounce rate measures the percentage of your total emails sent that could not be delivered to the recipient's inbox. There are two kinds of bounces to track: “hard” bounces and “soft” bounces.
Soft bounces are the result of a temporary problem with a valid email address, such as a full inbox or a problem with the recipient’s server. The recipient’s server may hold these emails for delivery once the problem clears up, or you may try re-sending your email message to soft bounces.
Hard bounces are the result of an invalid, closed, or non-existent email address, and these emails will never be successfully delivered. You should immediately remove hard bounce addresses from your email list, because internet service providers (ISPs) use bounce rates as one of the key factors to determine an email sender’s reputation. Having too many hard bounces can make your company look like a spammer in the eyes of an ISP.
4) List Growth Rate
There's a natural decay of your email marketing list, and it expires by about 25% every year -- which means that it's more important than ever to pay attention to growing your subscriber list and keeping it at a healthy size. Collect feedback on a campaign through tools such as surveys.
5) Email Sharing/Forwarding Rate
The rate at which your email recipients forward or share your email with others may not seem all that significant, but it's arguably one of the most important metrics you should be tracking.
Why? Because this is how you generate new contacts. The folks on your email list are already in your database. So while conversion is still a primary focus, this doesn't help you attract new leads. Encourage your readers to pass along your email to a friend or colleague if they found the content useful, and start tracking how many new people you can add to your database this way.
6) Open Rate
Open rate is actually a very misleading metric for a few reasons -- but most importantly, an email is only counted as "opened" if the recipient also receives the images embedded in that message. And a large percentage of your email users likely have image-blocking enabled on their email. This means that even if they open the email, they won’t be included in your open rate, making it an inaccurate and unreliable metric for marketers, as it underreports on your true numbers.
You can get some value out of open rate as a metric if you use it as a comparative metric. For instance, if you compare the open rates of this week's email send to last week's email send -- both to the same lists -- it might give you some insight since the variables are somewhat controlled.
7) Unsubscribe Rate
Unsubscribes and complaints are a good way to know if you’re reaching the right audience. Although, many subscribers who are tired of receiving email messages from your brand won’t bother to go through the formal unsubscribe process. They’ll just stop opening, reading, and clicking on your email messages.
8) Return on Investment (ROI)
ROI is a top metric to measure. Track how much incremental revenue is generated from each incremental spend.