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By On November 29 2019 Email Marketing With 2 Comments Permalink

Metrics that Matter: A Guide to Email Marketing Metrics

Marketing metrics matter. In fact, metrics matter so much that 68% of marketers are either ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ concerned about the amount of data their organisations are throwing away, as this data could be used for strategic purposes [1].  

Although analysing open rates and unsubscribe percentages isn’t the most glamorous part of the job, these metrics can be crucial to understanding exactly how subscribers interact with your emails, thereby informing both your current campaigns and longterm strategy.

However, in an era driven by an abundance of data and metrics, it can often be difficult to know which metrics really matter, and which can safely be ignored. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide to email marketing metrics. We go in depth on industry benchmarks for different metrics to help you get the most out of your email campaigns! 

Key Takeaways:

  • The average email open rate across all industries is 21.33%
  • The average click through rate across all industries is 2.62%
  • The average email conversion rate varies by email type: 1% for Newsletters, 5% for Order Follow-Ups, 2.6% for Inactive Customer Emails, 5% for Abandoned Cart Emails, and 2.7% for Member Follow-Ups
  • The average hard bounce rate across all industries is 0.4%
  • The average soft bounce rate across all industries is 0.58%
  • The average unsubscribe rate across all industries is 0.26%
  • 53% of browsing activity occurs on mobile for 32% of revenue
  • 37% of browsing activity occurs on desktop for 56% of revenue 

Open Rate

Open rates are exactly what they sound like: a measurement of how many people open your emails. As such, open rates are a critical and widely measured email marketing metric. After all, if people aren’t actually opening your emails, you have a problem. 

According to a thorough analysis by MailChimp, the average open rate for email marketing campaigns sent to at least 1,000 subscribers is 21.33% across all industries. This ranges from a high of 28.77% for emails related to ‘Government’, to a low of 15.03% for emails related to ‘Vitamins’[2]. Accordingly, an open rate of approximately 21% is a useful benchmark to judge the success of your email campaigns. 

In general, open rates are most useful for gauging the effectiveness of your subject lines. A study by Phrasee found that when split testing email subject lines, using open rates as your primary metric accurately predicts the best performing subject line 92.5% of the time, compared to 27.3% accuracy when using click rate as your primary metric, and 13.6% accuracy when using conversion rate as your primary metric[3]

Open rates can also provide valuable insights into other factors, such as what days and times your subscribers are most likely to open your emails. This can help to refine your send times for future campaigns.

Despite this, open rates can be a somewhat limited metric. High open rates don’t inherently lead to higher conversions or increased revenue. Therefore, drawing broad conclusions from open rate data is not advisable. 

Click Through Rate

Getting subscribers to open your emails is one thing, but getting them to engage with your emails is far more rewarding. This is where click through rates become important. 

Again, click through rates are exactly what they sound like: a measurement of how many people actually clicked on your email (i.e. following a link or call to action to visit your website). Arguably, click through rates are even more important than open rates: the difference between passively opening an email and actively engaging with an email is enormous. 

According to MailChimp’s analysis, the average click through rate across all industries is 2.62%. This ranges from a high of 5.01% for emails related to ‘Hobbies’ to a low of 1.4% for ‘Restaurants and Venues’[2]

Click through rates provide insight into a number of important factors, such as the effectiveness of your CTA buttons, as well as what type of content your subscribers prefer (i.e. blog posts vs special offers). 

A thorough analysis of your click through rates can determine exactly how users are engaging with your emails, which can be vital when optimising future campaigns. 

Conversions

Apart from revenue, conversions are probably the most important email marketing metric. In fact, 60% of email marketers use conversion rates to judge an email’s effectiveness[4]. Having people read your emails is great, but ultimately, converting subscribers into customers is your primary goal as an email marketer. 

Unfortunately, conversions are more difficult to achieve, while conversion rates can also be a difficult metric to accurately measure. This is because ‘conversions’ can mean different things depending on the type of content you are promoting. 

For one company, a conversion may mean making a sale, while for another, a conversion may mean getting a customer to download a white paper, or even getting them to sign up for your newsletter.

Marketing Insider Group provides this useful definition for calculating email conversion rates, “to compute your conversion rate, divide the number of signups or purchases by the total number of successful email deliveries. Then, multiply it by 100. Conversion Rate (%) = # of signups or purchases / # of Successfully Delivered Emails X 100”[5].

So, what conversion rate should you be aiming for? Depending on your industry, best practice suggests that conversion rates between 2% and 5% are standard. 

Statistics by Marketing Insider Group corroborate this, breaking down average conversion rates by email type. According to their analysis, Newsletters have an average conversion rate of 1%, Order Follow-Ups have an average conversion rate of 5%, Inactive Customer Emails have an average conversion rate of 2.6%, Abandoned Cart Emails have an average conversion rate of 5%, and Member Follow-Ups have an average conversion rate of 2.7%[5]

Conversion rates can be influenced by a variety of factors. For example, personalised emails improve conversions by 10%, while including a call to action button rather than a text link can improve conversion rates by 28%[4]

Bounce Rate

Another widely used email marketing metric, bounce rates simply tell you the percentage of emails that could not be delivered to your subscribers. Bounce rates can be split up into two categories: hard bounces and soft bounces. Digital Marketing Institute[6] provides a helpful definition of both:

  • Hard Bounces: messages that are permanently rejected due to an invalid email address or because the recipient’s server has blocked your server.
  • Soft Bounces: messages that are temporarily rejected because the recipient’s inbox is full, the server isn’t working, or the email exceeds the size limit set by the recipient or Email Service Provider.

As hard bounces are permanently undeliverable, it is best practice to remove any hard bounces from your mailing list, or risk damaging your sender reputation. 

Obviously, emails going undelivered is not ideal. However, a low bounce rate is nothing to panic about. According to MailChimp, the average hard bounce rate across all industries is 0.4%, while the average soft bounce rate across all industries is 0.58%[2]

Hard bounce rates range from 0.07% for emails relating to ‘Daily Deals/E-coupons’ to 0.86% for ‘Construction’, while soft bounce rates range from 0.13% for emails relating to ‘Daily Deals/E-coupons’ to 1.28% for ‘Construction’[2].

Only two industries (‘Manufacturing’ and ‘Construction’) have an average hard or soft bounce rate over 1%. Therefore, if your bounce rate consistently exceeds 1%, it may be time to evaluate the health of your subscriber list[2]

Subscriber List Activity

While it is tempting to measure your subscriber list purely in terms of growth, it is important to realise that list decline and unsubscribes are a natural aspect of email marketing. In fact, according to Marketing Sherpas, email marketing databases naturally degrade by approximately 22.5% every year[6]

Further, according to MailChimp, the average unsubscribe rate across all industries is 0.26%[2]. Unsubscribe rates vary from a high of 0.4% for ‘Health and Fitness’ to a low of 0.1% ‘Daily Deals/E-coupons’[2]. As such, an unsubscribe rate greater than 0.5% would typically be cause for concern. 

Measuring your subscriber list activity can be useful for several reasons. If your list achieves significant growth, can you pinpoint why this is occurring? For example, are your recipients responding to a particular style of content, or is a new send time achieving positive results? Likewise, if you are losing subscribers at a concerning rate, you should analyse subscriber list activity to determine why.

Device Type 

Less widely used, but no less important, device type is becoming a key metric for email marketers. In 2018, 53% of all email opens occurred on a mobile phone or tablet[6]. Similarly, 53% of browsing traffic now occurs on mobile, compared to 37% on desktop, and 10% on tablet. Desktop still leads the way when it comes to revenue, with 56% of purchases occurring on desktop, compared to 32% on mobile, and 12% on tablet[7].

Ideally, your emails should already be fully optimised for mobile. However, knowing exactly what devices your subscribers use to access your emails can be highly beneficial. Similarly, it pays to know which email clients your subscribers use. 

This information can help you optimise your emails from both a design and copy perspective, ensuring your campaigns are accessible and responsive for all subscribers. 

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References

[1]https://marketinginsidergroup.com/marketing-strategy/how-creative-marketers-can-get-what-they-need-from-data/

[2]https://mailchimp.com/resources/email-marketing-benchmarks/

[3]https://phrasee.co/subject-line-split-tests-which-performance-metric-matters-most/

[4]https://www.campaignmonitor.com/blog/email-marketing/2018/12/70-email-marketing-stats-you-need-to-know/

[5]https://marketinginsidergroup.com/content-marketing/email-marketing-conversion-rate-comparison/ 

[6]https://digitalmarketinginstitute.com/en-au/blog/practical-guide-email-marketing-metrics

[7]https://www.smartinsights.com/digital-marketing-strategy/email-marketing-trends-2020/

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