Essential Benchmarking Metrics for Email Marketing

Essential Benchmarking Metrics for Email Marketing

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Email marketing tools offer a number of report metrics that can be a bit overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re looking at. By understanding what each metric means and having an idea of your industry’s benchmarks, you will be able to see how effective your email marketing efforts are. 


Before we go into what metrics you should be monitoring, make sure you have considered the goal of your email marketing campaigns. Are you hoping to grow your subscriber database, generate new leads or maybe you are hoping to convert your leads into customers?

Whichever goals you have in mind, here are the metrics you need to keep an eye on.

Open rate

Simply put, this is the percentage of people who opened your campaign emails. If this is low then you will want to address this ASAP as your subscribers are not even getting past your subject line.

Bounce rate

This percentage is based on the number of email addresses in your subscriber lists that did not receive your message. Most reporting systems will display this as two different types of bounces, soft and hard.

Soft bounces mean that the recipient inbox is temporarily unavailable. This could be because the inbox is full or due to a server issue, and so there is still a chance that your email could get through at a later time.

Hard bounces however are when there is no way for the email to reach the subscriber. This could be due to an incorrect or old email address, or if a spam filter has blocked you. If you are noticing a high number of hard bounces it may be a sign that your database is stale which should be addressed before you send out any more campaigns.

Abuse complaints

Within your email campaign report you may notice something called ‘Abuse’ or ‘Spam Complaints’. This is the number of people who manually marked your email address as spam. Some people may do this if they are unable to see a way to unsubscribe from your database, and the more people who mark you as spam, the harder it will be for you to get through spam filters in the future. Therefore, it is vital that you include a clear unsubscribe button in every email campaign.

Click through rates

This is one of the most important metrics to track within your email marketing campaigns as it will show you how many subscribers have acted upon your call-to-action. This will be based on the number of people who opened and then clicked on any of the links included within your email marketing campaign.

Unsubscribe rate

All subscriber lists decay overtime. In fact, a natural decay for any industry is around 22.5% a year, so do not be too concerned by this percentage in your reports. However you should keep an eye on it throughout your campaigns and if you start to notice that it has began to climb, it may be time to look at your content and see if you are creating an email campaign that offers relevant information to your audience.

List growth rate

By understanding that there is bound to be a number of unsubscribers over the year, it is important to make sure you are putting effort into building your database back up. This metric helps you to keep track of how well your subscriber list is growing. To work this out you need to calculate:

[Number of new subscribers – (number of unsubscribers + email/spam complaints) ÷ total database number] × 100

Conversion rate

If your email campaign includes a call-to-action then you should be tracking your conversion rate. By creating custom URLs for each link in your email campaign, you will be able to track how many people have acted upon your call-to-action within your web analytics from that particular email. To find your conversion rate you will need to calculate:

(Number of completed actions ÷ number of emails sent) × 100

By understanding the benchmarks for each of the above metrics you will start to be able to build up an idea of how successful your email campaigns are.

For the latest benchmarks for each industry, see MailChimp’s research based on their customers’ insights.

It is also important to work out what your business’ benchmarks are as well. Once you have enough data to work out what you’re averaging for the above metrics you will be able to then compare your future campaigns to make sure you are staying on track.

If you are looking to improve your email marketing stats, start by A/B testing different elements of your email to see what language, colours and layout works best for your audience. If your email campaign metrics are showing a lot of hard bounces, it could be that your campaigns are getting picked up by spam filters and so not making it as far as the subscriber’s inbox. The best way to avoid these is to steer clear of writing in CAPS and the overuse of exclamation marks.

By having an understanding of your industry’s benchmarks as well as your own averages you will be able to start to really understand the metrics in your email marketing reports and see where you have room for improvement.

Email marketing is an important element of the inbound marketing methodology. To find out how to to run an inbound marketing campaign and drive more traffic, generate more leads and convert more customers, download the free eBook below.

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