How to measure your email marketing success

    Last updated: May 13, 2024

    Measuring your email marketing success tells you how effective you are at engaging your audience — and driving business from them. In this post, we’ll tell you how to measure your email marketing success, give you some actionable ways to improve your own email metrics, and provide a framework for evaluating your own email program.  

    How to measure your email marketing success

    Why measure your email marketing success?  

    1. Spot and resolve deliverability issues

    Staying out of spam folders isn’t as fun as, say, getting a 20% conversion rate on your latest promotion. But you can’t have the latter without the former.

    If your audience doesn’t engage with your emails, ISPs will think they’re spammy and divert them to your recipients’ spam folders — without telling you. And if you’re not tracking your email metrics, this might go on for months before you realize anything is wrong. By then, you’ve lost out on critical revenue — and wasted a whole lot of time writing emails that nobody will read.   

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    Prevent this by closely monitoring your deliverability rate, the percentage of your emails that get sent to primary inboxes. (Shoot for above 98%.) Also stay on top of your open, click, and click-through rates, as ISPs often use those metrics to determine how legitimate you are.   

    2. Calculate your ROI

    Measuring your email success helps you determine the return on investment for each of your campaigns, which is especially important if you’re running multi-channel or nurture campaigns through email. Tracking clicks and click-throughs helps you evaluate your conversion funnel as a whole and attribute specific campaigns to revenue. This way, you can justify your most promising initiatives, knowing that they drive tangible results for your business.   

    3. Learn about your audience

    From subject lines and send time and content, design and list health, there’s a lot that goes into a single email. So there’s never one single variable that makes your emails succeed or fail. Over time, though, trends begin to emerge. You can see what topics resonate with your audience. You know what kinds of offers and cross-promotions yield the most business. You can even see which parts of the email itself they’re most likely to click on.

    Tracking your email performance helps you stay in tune with those preferences and respond in real time.  

    4. Conduct A/B tests

    Even small design improvements and copy changes can have an outsize impact on performance — and drive extra revenue for your business. By tracking your email marketing, you can start learning which subject lines, layouts, and visuals generate the most action. From there, you can focus only on what works. 

    5. Refine your audience segments

    The more you know about your audience, the more you can personalize your emails to different segments of that audience. Email tracking gives you the data you need to create those segments. Instead of just relying on demographics, you can start targeting people based on their actions — what content they’ve read, what they’ve purchased, what they’re subscribed to. With that, you can craft the emails that will convince each of them to convert. 

    What are the right email marketing metrics for your business?   

    Measure your email marketing success with these metrics: 

    Open rate 

    Open rates tell you how many people are opening your emails.

    Traditionally, this has been the most reliable way to judge how well your emails — and especially your subject lines — are performing. However,  the rollout of Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection in September 2021 has complicated that in recent years. MPP falsely counts some opens from Apple devices (open rates artificially skyrocketed in the 4-5 quarters following MPP).  

    However, we’ve seen open rates stabilize in the last year, so you can compare open rates from two emails sent after September 2022 and use that to draw conclusions about your email program. Need to know exactly how many people are opening your emails? Look for an email sending platform that allows you to track opens by device, then remove the Apple devices from your reports.  

    Not happy with your open rates?   

    • Experiment with different sending times and days. 
    • A/B test your subject lines. Test your subject line length or tone, or if you’re sending a newsletter, promote different articles in each subject line version.  
    • Personalize your subject lines. 

    Click rate  

    This is the percentage of recipients that clicked a link within your email. (On Omeda and other email sending platforms, you can also get click rates for individual links in the message.)  

    This tells you how effective your content and design is at eliciting action from your audience. If you want to get more detailed, you can also use click rates to figure out whether you’re sending the right promotions, offers and content to the right audience segments.

    If you’re prioritizing any one metric, it should be clicks: After MPP, click rate is now considered the most reliable indicator of your email success.   

    Not happy with your click rates?   

    • Consider segmenting your list by behaviors or interests. If you’re sending a general newsletter to a broad list of 5000, you’re putting a ceiling on your click rates. Because no matter how compelling your content, some people just won’t be interested. But if you split your audience based on what kind of content they’ve read in the past, and create different newsletters for each one, they’re more likely to respond. 
    • Use website analytics to inform your content: Your click rates tell you how relevant your content is for your audience. As you plan your newsletters, check your website analytics to see which pages are most popular among your audience — and plan your newsletters around those topics. 
    • Be concise: Most of your audience is reading from their phones, so get to the point and move on. Need help streamlining your copy? Use a free app like Grammarly or Hemingway Editor
    • Use heat maps to see where people click: Likewise, if your audience is skimming your emails, you need to put your most valuable CTAs in the places people look first. A heat map will show you where your audience clicks, so you can plan your design around your audience’s engagement patterns.   

    Click-through rate 

    Open and click rates can tell you a lot about how people are interacting with your emails. But they can’t directly tell you whether those interactions could turn into actual business. That’s where click-through rates come in.  

    This measures the percentage of people who clicked a link in the email, out of those who opened it.  

    Pre-MPP, your CTR told you how many conversions you were getting from each email. But because CTR is calculated as a percentage of opens, it’s no longer 100% accurate as a gross metric anymore.  

    But like open rates, you can reliably compare CTR from emails sent after September 2022 to see how your conversion funnel is performing over time.  

    Not happy with your CTR?  

    • A/B test your call-to-action message: A lot of your audience is just skimming your email between tasks, so your CTA needs to be urgent enough to inspire action. Experiment with different phrases like “Read now,” “get the guide,” “get your insights now,” and more to see what generates the most conversions from your audience. 
    • Make sure your conversion funnel is optimized for usability. If people are clicking on your emails but not following through to your website, it’s possible that your CTA buttons are too difficult to find or click on mobile. Some other questions to ask:  
      • Are the fonts legible in both light and dark mode?  
      • Are our brand colors showing up correctly? Is the email template designed for accessibility? (Need more guidance? Use this guide from accessiBe, a leading website accessibility provider, to flag potential pitfalls.)  
      • Are the videos and images loading quickly and displaying as intended? 
      • Are our calls to action (CTAs) clear and easily clickable? 

    Deliverability rate  

    This measures the percentage of people who received the email in their primary email folder (not spam). A deliverability rate above 98% indicates good deliverability, but a lower number could be a sign that inbox service providers are labeling your emails as spam. 

    If your deliverability is below 98%, review your sending practices, subject lines and list health to improve your sending reputation. Also consider partnering with an email sending platform that has a dedicated deliverability team, like Omeda. This team will intercede with inbox service providers on your behalf to help you resolve any sending or list health issues that are impacting your deliverability – and will help get your email program back on track.   

    Worried about your deliverability?  

    • Clean your lists regularly (once per quarter at minimum). 
    • Run re-engagement campaigns to reactivate lapsed subscribers.  
    • Segment your lists to ensure that people are receiving only the messages they’re likely to open, click and act on. 
    • Avoid using words that trigger spam filters in your subject lines.   
    • If you’re already experiencing deliverability issues, consider using an email service provider with a dedicated deliverability team, like Omeda. They’ll intercede with ISPs on your behalf to help you improve your sending reputation, improve your strategy and get back into primary inboxes. (And once you’ve turned things around, they’ll monitor your deployments to help you resolve issues before they impact your sending reputation.) 

    Other email marketing metrics to measure    

    Opens, clicks and click-through rates give you a surface-level understanding of how your emails are performing. But on their own, they don’t tell you why your emails succeed or fail. You might know your open rates dropped, but unless you’re measuring opens by device, you won’t know that your emails aren’t compatible with the latest iOS update.  

    To measure your email marketing success, you need to pair those top-level metrics with more granular data points.  

    Below are some other reports we use on Omeda so our clients can see how specific emails are performing across devices, audience segments, and more. 

    • Clickbot Summary Report: A new report showed that 47.4% of all Internet traffic came from bots in 2022, a 5.1% increase year-over-year. Many of those bots open and click your emails, which can distort your reporting and strategic decision-making. While many ESPs — including Omeda — automatically remove fake clicks from email reports, it’s still worth knowing how much of your email traffic is legitimate or why you’re attracting bots.  The Clickbot Summary Report shows you how many clicks that were counted and were negated due to the automated click activity that occurs at each receiving server. You can also see why each “fake” click was negated, as well as when it occurred.  
    • Opens by Device: This report tells you how your emails perform across different devices and formats. We recommend checking these reports just after new iPhone and Android rollouts so you know your designs still mesh with your recipients’ devices. 
    • Tracking Links Clicked: This measures the number of people that clicked each individual link within an email. If you’re sending a newsletter with multiple articles, use this to evaluate which articles drive the most website traffic. 
    • Summary By Link Category: In Omeda’s Email Builder, you can assign links and categories to each link that you use in an email. For instance, you can group all of your advertiser links under the Advertising category and all of your whitepaper links under the Whitepaper category. From there, you can use the Summary by Link Category report to see how many clicks you earn from each link in a particular category.This comes in handy when you’re running the same advertiser link in multiple campaigns and you need an easy way to evaluate how many conversions it drove – or if you want to see whether emails with gated content drive more conversions than your newsletters.  
    • URL Click Report: So you have multiple ways to count the number of clicks you get. But what about the people doing the clicking? The URL Click Report tells you which recipients clicked on each link within an email. This helps you create more relevant segments based on interests and behaviors rather than broad demographics.

    Create a plan to measure your email marketing success 

    Audit your email marketing strategy so far

    Before overhauling your email strategy, take stock of where you’re at. Depending on what tools you’ve been using so far, you can go broad or incredibly deep here. Regardless, start with these questions: 

    • What reporting capabilities does your email service provider have? Besides basic open, click and click-through rates, can it tell you how specific links are performing? Or how your campaigns perform across different audience segments?  
    • Do your emails get a lot of complaints and unsubscribes? Have your emails been getting redirected to your recipients’ spam folders?  
    • How are your open, click and click-through rates trending over the last 3-6 months?  
    • How often do you clean your email list?  
    • Are specific types of emails — like your company newsletter or promotions — outperforming others?   
    • Are you segmenting your audience based on interest, demographic, and/or purchasing behaviors? If you’re not segmenting, what’s stopping you? Time? Technology barriers? Not having access to important audience data 
    • Once you have your email data, can you easily add it to the rest of each recipient’s customer profile? This will help you analyze each person’s email activity in the context of their overall relationship with your brand – and give you a clearer picture on how to engage them. Consider using an email service provider that integrates with a CDP for this purpose. 

    Establish a tracking schedule

    This ensures you can spot trends quickly enough to respond. Maybe your team will check your email stats once a week, or on a per-campaign basis. Whatever the frequency, aim to check your reports consistently and decide who is accountable for checking and optimizing your email metrics.   

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