Do you have a “set it and forget it” attitude when it comes to some of your marketing efforts?
While you may be able to get away with this in some areas of marketing, it’s hard to be successful with your email marketing efforts if you aren’t actively tracking how well your emails are performing.
There’s enough of a time and money investment involved with building an engaged email list that you’ll want to pay close attention to your email marketing metrics.
Your email marketing software will often collect data and calculate metrics for you, but those are just numbers on a screen if you don’t have a plan for how to actively implement what you learn into your email marketing strategy.
Your email marketing analytics will tell a story through a series of statistics that can be tailored to any email broadcast, campaign, or sequence. The better you can understand the numbers, the more context you’ll have to make strategic tweaks to your strategy.
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Why tracking email marketing metrics is important
While many brands use email marketing to create relationships with their ideal clients in hopes of selling their products and services, too few of them have a regular routine for tracking email marketing analytics.
It’s too easy to keep your email metrics out of sight and out of mind. This usually happens when content creators are more focused on crossing off email marketing like it’s a task on their to-do list than looking at the effectiveness of their efforts long term.
Instead, we want you to be ahead of the pack by helping you understand that email marketing metrics will be one of the most influential tools in understanding how to improve your email conversions over time.
Know who is reading your emails
You may be collecting email addresses on your website through opt-in forms and landing pages, but how well do you know the people who are signing up for your email list? You may receive comments from your subscribers through replies, but one of the best ways to get to know them is by looking at their habits through the lens of your email metrics.
Your email marketing analytics give you a synopsis of how well your emails are performing by showing
- What topics are resonating with your audience
- How likely your audience is to engage with each email
- What you can gather from each email campaign
Too many content creators treat their emails like a megaphone. When you are using a megaphone, your content has to be loud and silence all other voices in order to be heard. But your audience cares more about the value behind your message than its volume.
They also want to feel like they are a part of the conversation. Invite them into a personal conversation, whether it’s by sending a survey or asking them a question to answer in a reply. Then, use email metrics to understand what their needs are and how you can provide solutions to their problems to build trust.
Know what topics your subscribers are interested in
Once you know who you are talking to through your emails, you can focus on utilizing email analytics to gauge how interested your audience members are in your topics. Depending on your niche, you can determine what topics are most relevant to your audience by tracking the engagement your emails received.
If your emails are opened and clicked more often when you talk about a specific topic, you may want to adjust your email marketing strategy to give you more room to talk about it. You can continue to test other topics, but when you find one that your audience resonates with, you can get creative in how you weave it into your email content.
Your content topics should ultimately be decided by your audience. Your email list exists to help you educate your audience, solidify and build trust, and increase conversions. In order to accomplish these email marketing goals, you’ll want to use email marketing analytics to actively measure their interest in each niche topic you write about.
Know what offers are the most valuable to your audience
If you don’t pay attention to your email marketing analytics, you may be spending the majority of your time marketing and promoting offerings that aren’t the best fit for your audience.
Know when it’s time to clean your list
While having a large email list may seem like the holy grail of email marketing, it does you no good if the majority of your subscribers are inactive. If you have subscribers who are sitting on your list but aren’t interacting with your emails, it might be time to clean your email list.
ConvertKit makes this easy by allowing you to locate these inactive subscribers, which we call cold subscribers, inside our platform. Simply locate the Subscribers tab in your ConvertKit dashboard and click the Cold Subscribers option in the drop-down menu underneath your subscriber analytics.
Cold subscribers refer to anyone who hasn't opened or clicked an email in the last 90 days and has been subscribed to your email list for at least 30 days. In order to prune your cold subscribers, you’ll want to send a cold subscriber re-engagement campaign to make sure any inactive subscribers who want to stay on your list have the option to stick around.
Using email analytics to actively clean your list will help you increase your list quality and ensure the people who stay on your list are engaged subscribers who want to hear what you have to say. There’s no sense in paying for subscribers who aren’t interested in interacting with you.
What email marketing analytics should I be tracking?
Deciding which email marketing metrics are most important to your business can be tricky at first. If you choose too few metrics, you might not have a full picture of what’s working and what’s not. If you choose too many to measure, your eyes might glaze over, causing you to put off collecting the data until a much later date, if at all.
Tracking your email marketing analytics should be a simple and painless process. Luckily, many email software providers and analytic tools will help you by automatically calculating these metrics for you. But to identify the metrics correctly, we must have an understanding of what each email marketing metric is, what it is telling us, and what our goals should be.
It’s only natural to want your emails to be delivered to your subscriber’s inboxes. That’s the whole point of email marketing! But if you take your eyes away from your email marketing metrics, you may not notice when your deliverability rate takes a hit.
Your email deliverability rate can be influenced by multiple factors like bounces, spam issues, ISPs, and bulking. One of the best ways to ensure you have a positive and healthy email deliverability rate is to prune your email list of cold subscribers like we mentioned above. This will help you decrease email bounces and get rid of inactive subscribers.
Email deliverability benchmark:
You should aim for delivering at least 85% of your emails if you are keeping a clean email list.
Open rate is one of the most important email marketing metrics. It refers to the number of people on your master list or in a specific audience segment opened your email in their inbox.
Since people receive an average of 90 emails each day, it’s important to make a statement with your email subject lines. Besides your reputation, your subject lines will be the largest determining factor of whether or not a subscriber opens your email.
The best way to increase your open rates over time is to test your subject lines so you can optimize them. You can do this directly in the ConvertKit platform with our A/B testing feature.
As you craft your email content, you can test two subject line variations that will automatically be sent to a segment of your audience. The winning subject line is then sent to the rest of your list, thus increasing the open rate of your email.
You can collect this data after the A/B test is done and compare it to other subject line tests you’ve done in ConvertKit. We recommend keeping a record of these experiments so you can continue to improve your open rates with subject lines.
Open rate benchmark:
The average open rate usually hovers between 20-30%, but we see many of our users surpass that percentage when they lead with actionable, educational content.
Once your subscriber opens an email, you can measure its effectiveness by keeping an eye on your click rate. Your click rate is defined by how many subscribers opened your email and clicked a link.
Click rates are a great way to measure how engaged your audience is with your offers. If your open rate is high but your click rate is low, you may want to test some ideas. Try strengthening your call-to-action, providing more value in your email, or assessing the relevancy of your information.
Click rate benchmark:
Most industries put this at around 2-5% depending on the overall activity and engagement of their email list.
While your click rate will measure the percentage of subscribers who click on a link in your email, your conversion rate refers to the percentage of subscribers who follow through with taking the intended action.
In the world of email marketing, “conversion” most often refers to the action a subscriber takes that takes them further into your marketing funnel.
For example, if you were writing a hard-pitch email selling your newly launched online course, your email’s click rate might be based on the number of people who click the link to your dedicated sales page. Your conversion rate, however, would be attributed to the number of people who buy your online course from the sales page.
Beyond selling your own products and services, here are a few other conversions you can build into your email marketing strategy:
- Ask your subscribers to refer their friends to your email list (Girl’s Night In does this really well.)
- Strategically place affiliate marketing links into your emails (Don’t forget to add a legal disclaimer to your email if you do!)
- Ask subscribers to leave a book review on Amazon or a podcast review
Once you have your intended conversion in mind, you can take it one step further by using Google Analytics to find out what your subscribers are doing once they bounce from your emails to your website. If you want to get started, these four steps will help you build a Google Analytics dashboard that will help you start tracking your conversion rates.
When you choose which intended action you want to inspire your audience to take, make sure to include only one strong call-to-action. That way, your conversions will improve by eliminating decision fatigue.
Email conversion rate benchmark:
Average email conversion rates will vary in each industry depending on the niche, product type, and business size. It’s more important to focus on having a better conversion rate than the month before so you can measure what is positively influencing that growth.
You’ve probably received a message in your inbox that lets you know when an email hasn’t been successfully delivered. This is called an email bounce, and it happens in email marketing as well. Your email bounce rate refers to the percentage of emails that aren’t delivered to your email subscriber’s inbox.
Email bounces happen for a number of reasons. A soft email bounce, referring to email addresses that are valid but still aren’t receiving your emails, could result because:
- Your subscriber’s email server was down when you tried to send an email
- Your subscriber’s email inbox was already full and needs to be cleaned out before they can receive your email
- The size of your email is too large
A hard bounce, however, can happen any time an email address is no longer valid or doesn’t exist at all. If your subscriber is returning hard bounces, you should remove them from your email list to keep your list healthy.
Bounce rate benchmark:
Try to shoot for 5% or less when you are measuring bounce rates for your email marketing.
Unsubscribers may seem like a bad thing at first glance, but it can actually be a good thing to have subscribers remove themselves from your email list if they no longer want to read and interact with your emails.
Rather than take it personally, remind yourself that unsubscribers help you keep a clean list by allowing people to opt-out of your email list at any time. This saves you from paying for subscribers who aren’t connecting with you and don’t intend on taking action on your emails.
When someone unsubscribes, it will also improve your email marketing metrics because their inactivity won’t count in your overall analytics. They can be a blessing in disguise, but it is valuable to track how many are unsubscribing on each email. That way, if you receive a much larger amount of unsubscribes on one email, you can try to assess why.
Unsubscribe rate benchmark:
Your return on investment, or ROI, is incredibly important when you are creating your email marketing strategy. Since the investment of time and money is often involved with building and nurturing an email list, you’ll want to be aware of the ROI of your email marketing efforts.
When you calculate your email ROI, be sure to assign a number value to the time you spend creating and promoting email content along with the monetary investment of any other email marketing tools you use. This way, you’ll have a long-term view of how valuable your time and money investment in email marketing is. (We have an example here if you want to see how you can break this down even further.)
As you become more efficient with your time (or possibly outsource your email marketing in the future as your business grows) and fully utilize your email marketing tools for success, you’ll see your email ROI start to rise. This email marketing metric won’t automatically calculate like your click rate and bounce rate, but it’s absolutely worth your attention.
Start utilizing email marketing metrics for your online business
Now that you know what some of the most important email metrics are, you can create an action plan for how you want to track and record this data.
Start by creating a block of time every month to review your email marketing analytics. This can take as little as 10-15 minutes, but this small time investment each month will help you exponentially improve your email marketing.
Your email marketing metrics are trying to tell you something about your audience and what they need more of. Setting aside this time to review the data gives you the space to explore those findings.
In your ConvertKit account, you’ll have instant access to these crucial email marketing metrics at any time. However, you may find it helpful to create a master spreadsheet with all of your analytics. Keeping all of your email analytics organized in one central place can help you assess your list's growth long term.
Once you’ve decided which email metrics you want to track and how you want to track them, it’s time to dig into the backend of ConvertKit so you can see your email marketing metrics in action.
Understanding the ConvertKit dashboard
When you sign up for a trial account with ConvertKit and click into each of the tabs, you are greeted by a series of graphs at the top of most pages. No matter if you are looking at the Forms graph or the Subscribers graph, these graphs give you a visual representation of how effectively your email list is growing.
As you continue to build your email list, you’ll start to notice trends in your Forms and Subscribers graphs. You may determine a day of the week that generates the most subscribers, a best-performing lead magnet or opt-in form, or any number of factors that translates to higher email subscriber growth.
You’ll also notice in the main dashboard that we have calculated your average open rate and click rates. We've also counted the number of subscribers and emails you have sent during the lifetime of your ConvertKit account. This is a great way to track how your email metrics improve month-to-month while allowing you to look at the big-picture strategy of your email marketing.
Tracking email analytics for specific campaigns
If you want to track your open rate and click rate for a specific email, you can locate the one-time email broadcast (or an email inside your email sequence) and click the View Report button to the right-hand side of your desired email.
The report will also give you the number of total clicks, successful deliveries, and unsubscribes for each email.
If you conducted an A/B subject line test (which we highly recommend!), it will also show the analytics behind each subject line variation and which variation was the winner.
Homework: Email marketing metrics challenge
Exploring the ConvertKit dashboard is a great start, but these email metrics are only helpful if you’re actually sending regular emails to your audience. Otherwise, data can’t be gathered from your email audience.
Our beginner-friendly challenge is to create an A/B subject line test with your next email broadcast. Come up with two unique subject lines to send to a segment of your email list.
First try to hypothesize what subject line you think will win. Then log back into your account a few hours later to see which one was the winner. (The results may surprise you!) This A/B test will help you measure the effectiveness of your open rates based on your email subject lines.
Our more advanced challenge is to create a new goal in your Google Analytics dashboard that relates to one of your email conversion goals. This will help you measure what happens after your subscribers click on a link and what they do after they reach your website.
The numbers aren’t scary when you know what each piece of data is communicating. We’re cheering you on as you take on one (or both) of these challenges.