You use email marketing to engage customers and boost sales, but how do you know your campaigns are effective? Is email helping you achieve your goals? Are you reaching your readers? Are your emails getting opened? The only way to know for sure is to measure your key performance indicators (KPIs).

What are KPIs?

Don’t be intimidated! You mastered your ABCs. You mind your Ps and Qs. And you’re about to learn the basics of email marketing KPIs: specific marketing metrics you can monitor in order to measure progress toward your email marketing goals. Finding and following the right KPIs can show you how your email marketing campaigns are doing, so you can adjust accordingly and get to where you want to go.

Which marketing metrics matter to you?

Though every metric can be measured, not every metric matters to you. And that’s good news because it would take an awfully long time to track the hundreds of metrics out there. A better approach is to focus on metrics that are relevant to your immediate email marketing goals. Get started by asking yourself what it is you’re trying to accomplish. Do you want to grow your subscriber list or generate more leads? With a specific goal in mind, it’s much easier to zero in on the right combination of KPIs.

Here are seven important metrics to keep in mind:

1. Deliverability rate refers to where your message ended up once it was delivered. Did it end up in the spam folder or reach your customer’s inbox?

2. Open rate is the percentage of people who opened or viewed your email, even if they opened it more than once. As a simple example, if you send an email to 100 recipients and 25 of those people open it, your open rate is 25 percent.

3. Clickthrough rate shows the number of people who clicked on at least one of the links in your email. It’s a great way to gauge subscribers’ interest because it shows how many of them are taking the time to click and dig a little deeper.

4. Conversion rate takes things a step further by looking at a definite action that you want those clicks to result in. It measures the percentage of people who clicked a link within your email and completed a desired action, such as filling out a form or making a purchase.

5. Bounce rate is the number of emails that did not reach your customer’s inbox for one reason or another. There are two kinds of bounce rates you need to track:

  • Soft bounce is when you send an email to a valid email address, but the message doesn’t arrive because the customer’s inbox is full or there’s a problem with the server.
  • Hard bounce is when you try to send an email to an invalid email address, and your email bounces back.

6. Unsubscribe rate is the percentage of people who unsubscribe from your list. If a particular email results in a high unsubscribe rate, it’s time to rethink a few things. Are people feeling bombarded by your email messages? Is the content you’re delivering relevant to them?

7. List growth rate shows you how fast your email list is growing. It takes into account unsubscribes and bounces and looks at the number of contacts that are added to your list in a certain time period.

How does your email marketing performance stack up?

Though the numbers vary across industries, knowing these benchmarks will help you gauge where you’re at now, so you can set and achieve realistic goals.

Average deliverability rate: You want your deliverability rate to be as close to 100 percent as possible.

Average open rate: 20 percent

Average clickthrough rate: 3.0 percent

Average conversion rate: Because your conversion rate is customizable, your target rate should be based on your own goals. For example, if the goal of your email campaign is to generate sales, your target rate may be a specific number of sales or transactions.

Average bounce rate: 0.42 percent

Average unsubscribe rate: The lower, the better, but you can aim to keep it below .05 percent.

Average list growth rate: If your list is growing, keep doing what you’re doing. If your list is shrinking, a checkup is in order.

Tips to improve your email marketing KPIs

Now that you understand these important email metrics, here are some ways to improve them.

To increase deliverability rates:

  • Don’t buy your email list
  • Remove email addresses that are no longer valid from your list
  • Avoid spam triggers, such as “click here”

To get better open rates:

  • Write compelling subject lines customers can’t wait to click
  • Keep key points in the top third of your email
  • Make it clear that the email is from your company

To improve your clickthrough rates:

To boost conversions:

  • Keep your checkout process seamless
  • Make sure content is useful and purposeful
  • Personalize emails with information you learn about your customers

To decrease bounce rates:

  • Remove duplicate or invalid addresses from your list
  • Don’t buy a list of email addresses; only send to people who have actively signed up for your list
  • Send new subscribers a confirmation email

To lower your unsubscribe rate:

  • Keep the unsubscribe link visible and accessible
  • Send out a survey asking why unsubscribers have decided to opt out
  • Be sure that you’re only emailing folks who want to hear from you

To keep your list growing:

  • Attract subscribers with catchy Pop Ups or Sign-Up Forms
  • Add an “Email to a friend” button
  • Include social sharing buttons

The bottom line

Email marketing can be a powerful way to reach customers and drive results, but you have to be strategic about it. By tracking the right metrics and knowing what is or is not working, you can fine-tune each campaign for optimal results. Once you determine your goals, use the insights provided by KPIs to guide your email campaigns and achieve success.

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© 2019, Bella Girardi. All rights reserved.

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