email marketing metrics: hands typing emails

Let’s make one thing clear: Email isn’t dead.

In fact, email is more lucrative than any other marketing channel, helping you generate $38 for every $1 you invest. Plus, nearly 99% of consumers have said they check their mailbox regularly, with many calling email their preferred channel for receiving updates from companies.

It’s nowhere close to being dead.

But even if you apply the best cold email practices to optimize your pitch and follow-ups, you still have to find out whether your email marketing campaigns are actually helping you achieve your goals.

You’ll have to consider several questions to determine how well your email marketing campaigns are performing. Is your subscriber list growing? Are you generating more leads? Have you been able to convert your leads into customers?

Luckily, a few important email marketing metrics will keep you up to date with the effectiveness of your email marketing strategy.

Keep reading as we discuss the most crucial email marketing metrics, along with some useful tips to help you enhance and optimize them.

5 Important Email Marketing Metrics and How To Optimize Them

email marketing metrics: smartphone held against laptop screen

You can use plenty of email marketing metrics, but only a few truly deserve your attention — especially when it comes to cold email. The following metrics are the most vital to regularly measure:

1. Open Rate

Open rate refers to the percentage of your email recipients who open your email. It’s the simplest metric but still very important, and you should track it every week.

Email marketers do their best to improve the open rate by using catchy email subject lines and sending emails on specific days. After all, there is no point in having an email campaign if your subscribers don’t open and read your emails.

How To Optimize Email Open Rate:

  • Run A/B tests to identify which time frames – time and day – work best for sending emails.
  • Use actionable subject lines that entice curiosity. Experiment with numbers, and use power words that get the work done.
  • Use the preview text effectively – nearly 24% of people look at it before opening a particular email. 

Send emails only to opt-in subscribers.

2. Adjusted Reply Rate

We make this point in the QuickMail podcast as well, but we have to point out that instead of the reply rate, you should prioritize the adjusted reply rate. This metric will tell you how well your emails perform by analyzing the number of replies you get based on how many people who actually open your email.

Let’s consider an example.

You have two emails that you want to test, and send both to 100 people each. Now, you got 10 replies back on both emails. 

So, this must mean that both emails are equally good, right? Wrong

You see, it may be that one email got half the opens than the other email. As a result, the adjusted reply rate for that specific email would be double that of the other email. 

If you’re doing A/B testing, taking the adjusted reply rate would be a better indicator. Think of the metric as comparing the two exact same parameters that allow you to make better-informed decisions.

How To Optimize Adjusted Reply Rate

  • Run A/B tests to determine the suitability of your email copy.
  • Make sure your emails get opened by avoiding spam words.

3. Positive Reply Rate 

The next metric you should definitely track for a successful email campaign is your positive reply rate. This metric is the ratio between positive replies and negative replies, which tells you two crucial things:

  1. The suitability of your email list for what you have to offer.
  2. Whether or not you can communicate your value propositions through your emails compellingly.

Now, we aren’t asking you to be unrealistic. Of course, you’re going to have negative replies, but it’s better to aim for a positive reply rate of 50% and above. Anything less means you should re-evaluate your email list and value propositions and rework accordingly to get at least a 50% positive reply rate.

4. Bounce Rate

The percentage of your total number of emails sent that wasn’t delivered successfully to the recipient’s inbox is your bounce rate. Try to calculate this percentage every month for better results.

You have to understand hard bounces and soft bounces to avoid any trouble down the line. For instance, when a recipient has a full inbox, it‘s called a soft bounce. But when the email address or domain doesn’t exist or if the address is mistyped, it’s categorized as a hard bounce.

You’ll have to find the right contact persons before sending out emails too, which actually doesn’t have to be too hard. Watch our video where we discuss the best ways to find the right emails with minimum effort.

How To Lower Bounce Rate:

  • Scan your email list carefully and remove any hard bounces.
  • Clean, test, and segment your email lists frequently.
  • Choose a reliable Email Service Provider (ESP).
  • Make the unsubscribe button easily viewable.
  • Allow new subscribers to control the frequency of emails.

5. Overall ROI

The overall ROI refers to the return on investment for all your email campaigns. You can calculate your actual revenue, find the number of leads you were able to generate through these campaigns, and whether the gains could translate to potential revenue.

How To Optimize Your Email Campaign ROI:

  • Focus on improving your email deliverability. 
  • Optimize your emails to make them easily readable for mobile users.
  • Use triggered emails thoughtfully. For instance, you can send an abandoned shopping cart email to encourage a customer who has items in their cart to place an order.
  • Take the time to verify each email address.
  • Think of good email ideas and be consistent. You can add humor to make your email copy sound more friendly, or add videos and images to make it visually attractive.
  • Track your email deliverability and overall performance.

3 Secondary Metrics You Should Just Keep an Eye On

These metrics are great to check from time to time and/or dig in when something is not working as it should.

1. Spam Complaint Rate

A rising spam rate means your recipients see you as annoying enough to flag your emails as spam.

You‘ll run into some big trouble if they continue doing this since it can seriously undermine your sender’s reputation. Then, your future emails may not be delivered to recipients.

That said, 0.1% is a reasonable complaint rate. Treat any rate higher than this as a red flag.

How To Reduce Spam Complaints:

  • Always use a confirmed opt-in. Never use purchased email lists.
  • Don’t include an offer in every single email.
  • Send a reasonable number of emails – sending too many tends to annoy readers.
  • Make the unsubscribe button easily viewable.
  • Allow new subscribers to control the frequency of emails.

2. Unsubscribe Rate

Man writing a list with a pen

You can learn the percentage of your email recipients who unsubscribed from your email through this metric. But don’t worry — this isn’t as bad as it sounds.

Every campaign will have a specific number of unsubscribes, which is why the rate of 0.25% is acceptable. It’s when you get a higher rate of decline that you need to think through your email marketing strategy.

How To Prevent Email Unsubscribes:

  • Focus on improving your email copy.
  • Space your emails out properly – not too frequent, but not too infrequent either. For instance, Tuesday is one of the best days to send cold emails. Early mornings and evenings work just as well.
  • Never use misleading subject lines.
  • Address your subscribers by their (correct) name.
  • Keep the focus on your CTAs and cut out unnecessary sentences.

3. Engagement Over Time

By tracking this metric, you can see when your customers tend to open your emails. That way, you can find the best times of the day to send your emails.

You can use this information to boost email engagement, which, in turn, helps with deliverability.

How To Optimize Email Engagement:

  • Maintain a good sender reputation by never using purchased emails and by cleaning out unengaged contacts.
  • Include social media sharing options.
  • Use A/B testing to determine the best times to engage your audience.
  • Encourage email clients to give you feedback.
  • Segment your email list by audience interest. For instance, separate your new subscribers from your old ones. You can also separate your email lists according to age, occupation, and demographic.

5 ‘Vanity’ Metrics You Can Safely Ignore

Vanity metrics look flashy, but they won’t help you make campaign decisions. Here are nine examples of mail metrics that seem important but actually aren’t. Put less stock into these and more into the four metrics we mentioned earlier.

1. List Growth Rate

A very overlooked metric, the list growth rate indicates the rate at which your email list is growing. Monitoring your conversion and click-through rates is a must, but keeping an eye on your email list growth and loss is equally crucial.

You see, every subscriber list has a natural decay over time where people might switch email accounts or simply abandon it altogether. Hence, it’s necessary to build your list consistently and weed out old emails to avoid hard bounces.

How To Optimize List Growth Rate:

  • Add partial or full gated content.
  • Host frequent contests and giveaways.
  • Offer discounts and deals.
  • Create multiple lead magnet or opt-in bribe pages

2. Email Share or Forward Rate

Your email forwarding or sharing rate refers to the percentage of the email recipients who have shared your email with their other people on their list.

This percentage may seem insignificant at first, but it’s one of the most important KPIs to track since it can help you generate new leads through your subscribers without any extra expense.

How To Make Emails More Shareable:

  • Add a personalized touch to your emails by using the name of the recipient or talking about their company. 
  • Encourage subscribers to forward the mail by using CTAs like “Share on social media” or “Forward this email.”
  • Keep your email copy simple, concise, and to the point.
  • Make your content useful and thought-provoking for the subscriber by discussing the latest industry trends and mentioning their pain points.
  • Add shareable videos and images whenever possible. 

3. Device Open Rate

As the name suggests, this metric will help you keep track of which devices – mobile phones, tablets, or desktop – your recipients use when opening your emails. For instance, if the majority of the subscribers use smartphones, you should optimize your emails accordingly.

How To Optimize Device Email Open Rate:

  • Use email templates relevant to your readers’ devices to increase your open rate. 
  • Optimize emails for every device by using larger fonts.

4. Conversion Rate

Every digital marketing strategy emphasizes having a higher conversion rate – your email campaign is no different. This refers to the percentage of your email recipients who actually completed the desired action like buying your product or filling out a lead generation form.

How To Optimize Email Conversion Rate:

  • Adopt a personalized approach when writing the emails.
  • Incorporate strong CTAs.
  • Ensure your emails are easily readable on mobile devices.
  • Set up an automated drip campaign through respectable cold email software.
  • Use behavioral triggers and double opt-in to make a good impact on subscribers.

5. Click-Through Rate (CTR)

The CTR or click-through rate shows the percentage of email clients who clicked on one (or more links) inside your email. You’ll know how many subscribers opened your email along with how many interacted with it and ended up visiting your website.

While a lot of importance is given to click rate, it isn’t a necessity when sending out cold emails simply because the whole point of cold email outreach is to get the conversation started.

Now, optimizing click rates mean you might end up adding multiple links in a single email – something that will adversely affect your chances of conversion. Instead, you may end up getting flagged as spam, killing your deliverability.

Just think about it, would you ever send your colleague an email with a link tracking embedded in it? Exactly.

How To Optimize CTR:

  • Improve your email content and format it properly.
  • Don’t use spam trigger words or overly salesy language.
  • Make sure you place your CTAs in the right place.

So go ahead and ignore these vanity metrics and instead focus on the four metrics that actually matter: open rate, bounce rate, adjusted reply rate, and positive reply rate.

Measure Your Email Marketing Metrics Through QuickMail

Man using a tablet on a couch

Email marketing is tricky, but by measuring the right metrics and KPIs, you’ll be better equipped to overcome problems and measure progress towards your business goals. 

Every marketing campaign can provide crucial insights for future success, which is why measuring them is essential. To enhance your cold marketing campaigns, start your free QuickMail trial right away.