Top 10 Email Marketing KPIs and Metrics

The importance of email marketing is hard to ignore. With its potential 4400% ROI, this tactic requires close attention, tweaking, and polishing. To build a comprehensive email marketing strategy, you need to focus on KPIs and metrics. They can help you set goals, evaluate your progress, and achieve the highest return on investment possible for your industry.  

While some email marketing strategies can be winged, others require serious planning. Even if your current tactics seem to be working out fine, you may be overlooking important aspects. To make sure the entire marketing campaign is under control, you need to determine the main email marketing campaign KPIs.

Top 10 Email Marketing Campaign KPIs and How to Use Them

The key goal of a marketing KPI is to measure the success of your campaign. Before you set email marketing goals, you need to set key performance indicators (KPIs).

What is a KPI?

Key Performance Indicators are a set of metrics that measure your performance against your goals. They show what you need to improve in order to achieve the main objectives. In marketing, these can be both marketing and business goals.

KPIs also measure the performance on your way to achieving goals. At each step of your marketing campaign, you can check back with KPIs and see how well you are doing.

KPIs are especially important in marketing because even such efficient tactics as email marketing don’t always provide visible results immediately. Before you start seeing lead generation, conversion, and retention results, KPIs can show if the campaign is going in the right.

KPIs are also an integral part of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely) goal-setting framework. They offer measurability and specificity to check and measure your progress.

Email marketing KPIs provide a focus for improvement and create an analytical decision-making base.

1. Email Delivery Rate

You can have a truly huge subscriber list. However, it doesn’t mean that all your emails are delivered to each recipient. If you don’t know how many emails were delivered and how many didn’t reach their destination, it’s nearly impossible to measure your email marketing goals.

You could be sending a message to 10,000 leads but delivering only 5,000 of them. So if 500 of them convert, you think that you have a 5% conversion rate when in reality, it’s 10%.

A misunderstanding of the email delivery rate affects the rest of your metrics and hinders your email marketing efforts tremendously.

You also need to know the delivery rate in order to understand if there is a sudden change in email deliverability. For example, you may unknowingly get blacklisted. This could instantly cause your delivery rate to plummet, affecting the entire marketing campaign. If you don’t track this rate, you could be making wrong conclusions about your tactics.

Important: There is a huge difference between an email being delivered and it being delivered to the inbox. If your message lands in the spam folder, it’s still delivered. However, it doesn’t help you achieve your marketing goals. That’s why besides the delivery rate, you also want to measure the Inbox Placement Rate (number of emails delivered to the inbox).

2. Click through Rate (CTR)

Click through rate is the percentage of recipients who clicked on one (or more) link in your email message.

Formula: (Total clicks/ the number of delivered emails) x 100. For example, out of 5,000 delivered emails, you get 100 clicks. 100/5,000×100 = 2. You have a 2% click through rate.

The click through rate allows you to see how well each email you send is performing. It can also help you see how your email marketing campaign changes over time. Does the CTR go up? You must be doing something right. Is it going down? You need to check your deliverability rate, email list hygiene, content, and more.

You can also use the click through rate to evaluate the results of your a/b testing efforts. You can check which email design or content stimulates the CTR.

Email marketers use CTR to check how well the audience is engaging with email content to tweak it accordingly.

3. Open Rate

Your email open rate is the number of opened emails compared to the total number of emails sent. Open rate is considered to be an important email marketing metric since it shows how well of a job you’ve done with your email address book hygiene, subject lines, and preview text.

When studying your open rate, you need to check how many images the message includes. Your email is only considered open when images inside it are also opened. However, if the recipient has an image blocker enabled, the email won’t be considered opened even if it was viewed.

Formula: (Number of opened emails/number of emails sent) x100

According to Campaign Monitor, the average open rate in 2020 was 18%.  A good open rate can be anything between 10% and 30% depending on the industry.

Pro tip: While optimizing your open rates is important, you shouldn’t look solely at this indicator. In tandem with the click through rate, this metric can give you a much better insight.

Even though you need to track your open rate closely, it’s hardly the most important metric to base your decision on. Many email marketers believe that counting how many people open your emails isn’t as important as before.

4. Conversion Rate

Another highly important email marketing metric is the conversion rate. It shows you exactly how many email recipients opened your emails, read them, and made a decision to buy a product or use your services.

The conversion rate doesn’t just show how good of a job you did with designing your emails. It demonstrates how successful your overall email campaign is. The rate shows what people do when they receive your email. Besides opening it, reading the content, and clicking links, they follow the call to action.

Coupled with email open rate, delivery rate, and click through rate, the conversion rate can tell you which part of your email marketing campaign needs improvement.

For example, if your click through rate is satisfactory but the conversion rate is low, then you may need to rethink your calls to action or review the content on your landing page or social media accounts (wherever the link leads to).

Formula: (The number of times the recipient took the desired action/the number of delivered emails) x 100.

The ideal conversion rate depends on your industry.

5. Unsubscribe Rate

The unsubscribe rate shows the percentage of email recipients who click “unsubscribe” after opening your email message. Just like open rates, the unsubscribe rate doesn’t always show how well your email address list is doing. Some of your subscribers may simply be uninterested in your offer. So when they unsubscribe, it’s actually a good thing. You shouldn’t waste time and money on leads with low potential.

Formula: (Total number of subscribers/total number of delivered emails) x 100

Unfortunately, not too many mail recipients are ready to take the time to unsubscribe. Many people simply send annoying emails to spam, thus hurting your open rate and reputation.

So even if your unsubscribe rate is low, it doesn’t mean some of the recipients on your email address list should stay there. That’s why you need to always pay special attention to the health of your email list.

In any case, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the number of unsubscribes. High unsubscribe rates can be a red flag for the entire email campaign.

6. Bounce Rate

One of the most important email metrics is bounce rate. A bounce rate shows how many of the emails you sent didn’t end up in the mailbox successfully. Bounces can be soft and hard.

Hard Bounces

Hard bounces are permanent bounces. Their main cause is generally an invalid email address. It usually happens when a person changes an address and deletes the old one. The growing number of hard bounces shows that it’s time to catch up with your email list cleansing tactics.

By checking email addresses on your list regularly, it’s possible to achieve low hard bounce rates.

Soft Bounces

Soft bounces are temporary bounces. They are usually caused by issues on the receiving end. The email service provider may refuse to accept your email because it looks spammy, or the system could be down. You need to know your soft bounce rate to understand what affects the email deliverability rate.

Formula:  (Number of bounced emails/Total emails sent) x 100

Overall, the bounce rate is a metric that doesn’t affect your email marketing goals directly. However, it can show that something is wrong with the email delivery process as opposed to your email marketing tactics.

7. List Growth Rate

The list growth rate is the rate at which your email addresses list is growing. It’s the opposite of your unsubscribe rate.

If your email list isn’t growing or, even worse, decreasing, it’s a red flag. Most likely, you need to review lead generation efforts, email content, subject lines, calls to action of your website and social media accounts, and the like.

Formula: (Number of new subscribers – (number of unsubscribes + number of spam complaints))/Number of email addresses on your email list

By checking how your list is growing, you can figure out how well your lead generation tactics are working. The list growth rate can also help you adjust your email marketing campaign.

Pro tip: The growth rate may be affected by marketing efforts unrelated to your email campaign.

8. Email Marketing ROI

Email marketing return on investment is a highly important KPI. It can help you understand how much revenue you generated with your email marketing tactics compared to how much you’ve invested in the campaign.

While email marketing campaigns can have a high ROI, the actual numbers depend on many factors. With the right approach to email marketing, it’s possible to achieve excellent revenue goals without formidable investments.

By calculating the email ROI, you can measure the overall success of your campaign compared to your marketing budget.

9. Email Forwarding Rate

This rate helps you understand how many emails your subscribers share with others. When recipients share or forward your message, they become your brand ambassadors, boosting your marketing ROI and helping with your brand awareness efforts.

Formula: (Number of clicks on the forward button/number of delivered emails) x 100

By improving your email forward rate, you can generate new subscribers and grow the number of email addresses on your list.

While the email forwarding rate may not be as important as open rates or bounce rates, it’s an indicator of the success of your email marketing campaign. If your forwarding/sharing rate is high, you are likely to be doing an excellent job with email content, subject lines, call to action, brand awareness tactics, and more.

10.  Revenue Per Email

This KPI can show you how well you are using your marketing budget.

 Formula: Total email revenue/number of delivered emails.

This metric doesn’t just provide valuable insight into how well you are using the budget. It can show which types of emails generate the most revenue.

By segmenting emails by type and calculating revenue per email for each segment, you can understand which tactics are successful and which need tweaking.


Using Email Marketing KPIs: The Takeaway

The strength of email campaigns depends on how well email marketers set email metrics and KPIs. Every email marketer can have a different approach to using these metrics. However, all of them are vital to the campaign’s success.

By studying these KPIs and matching them to marketing and business goals, you can evaluate your marketing efforts and make vital adjustments to your campaign. Email marketing KPIs can help you catch issues before they become extremely costly and affect your marketing ROI. 


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