A Concise Guide to Email Marketing Metrics

8 min read

In this, the last installment of our series on lead nurturing, we investigate the most important email marketing metrics that you need to keep an eye on with any mailout campaign.

As many businesses know, email marketing can be a fun and engaging way to announce new offers, share exciting company news as well as simply keeping in touch with your audience.

However, regardless of whether you are sending out a 1-shot email or an elaborate lead nurturing campaign with multiple automated steps, you need to be able to analyze its results properly. Let's explore some of the most useful metrics that you'll need to look at to make the most of your analysis.


Bounce Rates & Types

Now this isn't the same as a web page's bounce rate, this refers to the amount of emails "bounced" in relation to a specific mailout. Most of us have misspelled an email address in our time; and the error message that you receive back when you do that is called a "bounce."

If your campaign was sent to an incorrect address and their email server sent back a bounce error, this will add to your bounce rate. You may have also heard the term "hard" or "soft" bounces; this simply refers to the type of error that caused the bounce. Soft bounces are usually temporary issues; maybe the recipient's mailbox was too full, their mail server encountered a problem or the email was too large. Hard bounces are a little more permanent: either the domain name doesn't exist or the username doesn't exist on that domain.

A handful of hard bounces doesn't mean your list is full of irresponsible errors; you must remember that email addresses change, people move on and as such subscriber lists age.

Open Rates

This one is fairly simple - it's the number of people opened your email, or the percentage of people who opened it. Though an interesting metric in itself, you may also want to check out two more "sub-factors" if you are able. Firstly we have "unique opens," or how many separate individuals opened your email; and indeed secondly - whether anyone opened your mail more than once. It may be a good idea to follow up with those who open a specific email multiple times, just to gauge their interest and see if there is any way you can work together.

This is another metric that does what it says on the tin; simply referring to the number or percentage of people who clicked a link within your email. Email marketing tools that just send out emails can monitor that these clicks have been made, but a platform with integrated, real-time web analytics can monitor both the link clicks within your campaigns, and follow those subscribers through any link clicks in real time, as well as monitor any subsequent purchases or enquiries that may come from that.

Remember to also look at which links within your email that people are clicking - their choices may surprise you!

Reply Rate

This is simply the number of people who responded to your email by hitting "reply" and sending you a message back. The importance of this metric depends on what you want your subscribers to do with your email. If you want them to click on a call to action above all else, then obviously link clicks take precedence; but if you want them to engage with you and respond to your email, reply rates are your friend.

Whichever path you want people to take - it pays to have a glance at both just to get an overall picture of how people are engaging with you.

Unsubscribe Rate

Another fairly obvious one, referring to how many people (or what percentage of the total) unsubscribed from your list off the back of that particular email or campaign or during a set period. If the tool you use allows people to give a reason as to why they unsubscribed, always check out the reasons people gave. If a large amount of people gave one specific answer, you may have a problem; especially if people are saying you've added them to your list without permission.

Churn Rate

This simply refers to the percentage of subscribers who have left your list through one way or another during a set period of time. This can be either voluntarily through an unsubscribe request, reporting your mail as spam or involuntarily due to a hard bounce or other technical issue. It can also refer to people who have "emotionally checked out" of your emails but haven't physically unsubscribed.

One additional point about losing subscribers: it's not always a bad thing unless folks are leaving in drones. Sometimes people move on, companies rebrand, email addresses change and people's requirements progress. Maybe your message just wasn't right for them. Regardless of whether the subscribers have left due to a choice on their part or a technical glitch, it all means that you can focus your efforts on those remaining. You may even find interesting correlations in the types of people who are unsubscribing or those that are staying! People leaving your lists isn't ideal, but it's not always a bad thing.

Forward Rate

This is a promising one because it refers to the amount of people who forwarded your email to someone else. Someone either liked your email enough to share it with someone, or maybe knew that it wasn't right for them but they want to make sure the message gets to someone relevant. It can help you reach the right people within an organisation - and hopefully grow your list too!

Open Locations

Again, this one might depend on what you're trying to achieve. It's always nice to see where your interested parties are based, but this data may have an added analytical application. For example, if you only deliver your products or services within the UK, but a large chunk of your opens are in the US then you have to address something somewhere down the line. Either you can change your scope to adjust to include the American market; or if that's not possible, you could investigate how they came to be on your list in the first place. Either way - well worth knowing!

Conversion Rate

This is a hard one to pin down, simply because the term "conversion" can mean so many things. Conversion merely refers to "the completion of a desired action," so though online conversion usually refers to making a purchase, it basically means that the subscriber has done the thing you wanted them to. That may be clicking on a certain link, responding to the email or following you on social media. As above, using a system with an "overall" view like FIVE CRM can help you follow a prospect through from their initial subscription all the way to them making a purchase.

Overall ROI (Return on Investment)

To calculate the overall return on investment of an email campaign, you simply take the total revenue directly made thanks to the campaign in question, and subtract the amount that the campaign cost. ROI is often expressed as a percentage, calculated this way:

(Gain from the Campaign - Cost of the Campaign)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------- x 100 = ROI percentage


Cost of the Campaign

However, your gain from the campaign might not just be expressed in sheer monetary value. If you wanted to grow your list, gain social followers, increase visits to a webpage or simply engage with your subscribers, these are all fine too; not to mention easily monitorable.

But is my campaign a success?

The rather annoying, cop-out answer to this question is "it depends." Is all hinges on whether you achieved what you set out to achieve. If you did, that's great! However, there are some generic measures of success that are good news on the whole; for example if you have a high open rate and low unsubscribe rate, that could be deemed a success. A high monetary ROI is generally what we are all after in business, so if you achieve that, it generally spells success. Conversely, you may have some negative elements (for example a low click rate) but you may have achieved increased subscription rates, low unsubscription rates and a high open rate which is all good news. It all depends on what is important to you and how you judge that data.


"Analysis can tell us what is required, but it cannot make us act." - Mary Frances Berry

After all of your analysis efforts - never forget the reason why we analyse: in order to adapt and improve our businesses. You can pore over analysis for days on end, but if you don't act on the things that analysis teaches you, it will have all been for nothing. Remember that analysis not the end of a project - is the start of something new.

For more information on FIVE CRM and lead generation click here.

Michael King says...

"I can’t think of a time where a client has requested something that we weren’t able to do with FiveCRM. Unlike most systems, it has a lot of flexibility."

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Managing Director, Senior Response


“Each client, and each of their campaigns, has its own unique specifications. We essentially needed to set up mini CRMs on one platform to meet those requirements.”

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Operations Director, Team Telemarketing

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