6 Email Marketing Metrics Everyone Should Measure (No Excuses)

Bonus Material: 2017 Email Marketing Bundle & Tracking Sheet

Ever hear that phrase “What gets measured gets managed”?

This gem was brought to you by Peter Drucker, and he’s quite right -- studies prove it again and again. 

Like did you know weight watchers who tracked their weight on a scale every day or tracked their food consumption in a tracker every day lost on average 13 pounds more than those who didn’t track. 

And this applies to you...how?

Because bloggers and online entrepreneurs who measure their email marketing efforts can fix issues, increase their conversion rates and make more sales. 

By tracking a few important email marketing metrics, I was able to diagnose an issue with a sales email that led to a 200% increase in sales.

email marketing stats

That’s right. Using these 6 metrics, fixed an email that led to almost 100 sales… and that was just with one email. I literally 10x’ed our sales just by paying attention to the right things.

I want you to be able to quickly diagnose issues in your email marketing plan too

Here’s exactly what to track, why you should track the metrics I’m describing, and how to diagnose issues if you’re behind the curve.

Oh, and before I get into it, click the button below to get the free tracking sheet so you can finally see whether your email marketing is effective.

Get your free bundle and tracking sheet!

Email Marketing Metric #1: Conversion Rate of Visitors to Email Subscribers

Let’s say you have a 2% email conversion rate on your website.

For every 1,000 visitors you get, 20 of them opt-in to your email list. 

Imagine increasing that conversion rate from 2% to 6%. So now, for every 1,000 visitors, 60 of them opt-in:

  • If you had 5,000 monthly visitors, you’d collect 200 more email subscribers
  • If you had 10,000 monthly visitors, you’d collect 400 additional email subscribers
  • And if you had 15,000 monthly visitors, over a year you’d collect an additional 7,200 email subscribers to your list

And at most, you’d spend just a couple hours to increase your conversion rate from 2%-6%

This scenario isn’t just an imaginary fairytale land where unicorns roam the land with their manes made of glitter, puking rainbows. 

Nope, this is entirely within the realm of possibility - yes, even for you - as long as you’re armed with the information you need to boost your conversions. 

And the information you need? 

Well, those are your conversion rate metrics - the percentage of people who land on your site or consume a piece of content and end up opting in to your list.  

And since your email list is your ATM, the more email subscribers that ATM is stocked with, the more cash your ATM is stocked with too.

If your ATM is empty, when you need to withdraw some money… well, you won’t have much luck. 

By tracking this metric, it will help you understand what your audience responds to, so you can then reverse engineer list-building success every time.

For example…

  • If you get 100 people to an article and only 1 person opts in, you have a 1% conversion rate. 
  • If you write another article and 16% of visitors opt in to that article, you know you hit the mark somewhere. 

When we see that one of our content upgrades or calls to action has a much higher conversion rate than most, we can compare the CTA to the others, to find out why it’s converting so well:

sumo conversion rate example

And that’s just from one guide.

We can then use it as a base for our other opt-ins to increase our conversion rate overall. 

Same for those that are lagging behind. We’re able to take that metric and use it to fix the opt-in opportunities that aren’t pulling their weight.

By not tracking this, you could be giving up hundreds or even thousands of emails every month -- which can translate into giving up hundreds or thousands of dollars.

How to Track Your Conversion Rates 

OK, so tracking your conversion rate is important. Got it. 

But it’s not enough to just login to your Sumo dashboard every week and note how your opt-ins are performing. 

You need a more savvy system to track and compare the effectiveness of your opt-ins - including which apps and email collection forms are performing the best, what your offer is, and any changes you’ve made to the opt-in. 

And you need track the conversions to each opt-in offer, call to action, and content upgrade you offer. 

To track your overall site visits conversion rate: The best way to do this is to set up a Google Analytics goal. This will help you understand what percentage of total website visitors end up subscribing to your email list. 

To track your content upgrades: Every email app on the market should track your conversion rate. If they don’t, switch to one that does. Here’s an example of our conversion rate on a content upgrade for our article 10 Types of Emails to Immediately Send Your Subscribers [With Templates]

sumo conversion rates example

Make a new email capture (ie Welcome Mat, Click Trigger, landing page etc) for each piece of content you use your content upgrade on. On underperforming upgrades, this will help you figure out whether it was the offer in relation to the content, the offer itself, or how you’re presenting it. 

Track the performance in a spreadsheet. 

This may seem old school, but I’m recommending it because it works. 

Here's the spreadsheet we use internally to track conversions on our opt-ins, PLUS our 2017 Email Marketing Bundle. 

Get your free bundle and tracking sheet!

Common Issues for Underperformance

Let’s say you’re tracking your conversion rate and you notice a couple of opt-ins that aren’t pulling their weight. 

Don’t just chalk it up to a fail and bank on the higher performing opt-ins. That’s not how you increase your conversions 

Instead, tweak the underperforming opt-ins to see if one of these factors is dragging conversions down:

  • You’re reaching the wrong audience. If you’ve run Facebook ads to the wrong audience, you’re driving a bunch of people who don’t care about your business. If they don’t care, they won’t opt-in. At Sumo, we help online entrepreneurs grow their email lists and get more traffic to their sites. If we mis-targeted our audience on our Facebook ads or guest content to management consultants, our conversion rate would suffer. 
  • You’re expecting an email in return for… nothing. Unless you’re already a huge site, you can’t just ask for people’s emails. They expect something in exchange. If your opt-in is a generic “Sign up for my newsletter” or “Get free tips and tricks straight to your inbox!”, you can 10x (or even 20x) your conversion rate by giving away something of value. 
  • You’re not describing your offer properly. If you are offering something in exchange for emails and your opt-in is performing poorly, chances are you’re not describing your offer in an enticing way. Expect a minimum of a 5% conversion rate on any site-wide offers you have at a bare minimum. Check out The Sumo-Sized Guide to Building the PERFECT Landing Page for some tips on how to increase your conversion rate on your offers (don’t worry, this applies to all of your offers - not just your landing pages!).
  • Your content upgrade or offer isn't relevant. The highest converting offers and upgrades are highly relevant to the content they’re offered with. For example, If I tried to give away the content upgrade for this article on my guide to Instagram Marketing, I would have seen a much lower conversion rate than the 60-70% we did see. That’s because it’s not relevant to the article.
  • You don’t know what your audience responds to. It’s easy to have this problem when you’re first starting out. If you’re not aware of what your audience responds to, you’re just guessing at what might work. One thing that can help with this is A/B testing. A/B testing allows you to test one variation of an opt-in against another variation (say, for example, testing an opt-in with a yellow button vs. a red button) to see which works best for your audience.

Protip: Because your conversion rate can so drastically affect your email list growth - and therefore your bottom line - set aside some time every week to review your metrics and make adjustments. 

Resources: 34 Conversion Rate Optimization Tips to Blow Up Your Email List: A Sumo-Sized Guide

Email Marketing Metric #2: Your Confirmed Opt-In Rate

I don’t know about you, but while the words “conversion rate” are kind of sexy…

Confirmed opt-in rate” lacks a certain je ne sais quois. 

But don’t be scared away by the snooze-worthy term for this metric, because not only is it important, but it’s also at least partially within your control. 

If you’ve ever logged onto your email service provider and saw the sheer volume of people who took the initiative to sign up for your email list but didn’t confirm their subscription, you might have had a minor heart attack. 

That’s because around half of the people who opt-in won’t confirm their subscription.

And you know what that means?

Unfortunately, it means that 50% of the people who sign up for your list won’t actually be added to your list. 

You’ll lose half of your subscribers to laziness, the dreaded spam folder, or human error. 

Shitty right?

And not only that, but you’re still charged for unconfirmed email subscribers within most email service providers… and you can’t do anything with them once they’re in your system for a set period of time. 

Meaning that if your unconfirmed rate of subscribership is 50% and you have a list of 10,000 (confirmed subs), each month you’ll have to pay for storage of 20,000 emails. 

Something tells me you’re not hustling to make sales in your business so you can spend your hard-earned money that frivolously. 

But the good news is your confirm rate isn’t just set in stone

There are things you can do to increase it and keep more of those subscribers to add to your list-ATM (and to save money on those storage fees). 

Paying attention to this metric will not only tell you whether you have a confirmation problem (my condolences), but also whether what you’re doing is working. 

How to Track Your Confirmed Opt-In Rate 

Almost every email service provider should have data on the unconfirmed opt-ins to your list:

google analytics subscribers data

You might not be lucky enough to get a clean percentage but you can do some of the groundwork yourself. 

You’ll want to keep regular data on your unconfirmed rate. “Regular data” depends on the volume of subscribers to your list, so let’s make it simple. 

  • If you have <1,000 subscribers/month being added to your list, pull metrics monthly
  • If you have >1,000 subscribers/month being added to your list, pull metrics bi-weekly.

If you see a drastic decrease in the % of subscribers who fail to confirm, that means you’re doing something right (perhaps maybe your thank you page reminder is working). 

If you see an increase, there could be an issue (maybe your subject line is pushing your confirmation email into spam folders). 

Common Issues for Underperformance

Okay, so let’s say you’re losing half of your would-be subs to the nethers of the internet

Luckily this isn’t entirely out of your control. Here are a few things that can move the needle in the wrong direction:

  • Not enough instruction. We’re lazy and don’t like to try to figure things out. Sometimes you have to tell people they need to confirm their subscription. This is best done on a thank you page or thank you window.
  • You’re giving it away too easily. If you’re giving away a content upgrade or opt-in offer, maybe people aren’t confirming their subscription because they don’t need to. Unless you make it mandatory that they confirm to get your offer, naturally fewer people will confirm. 
  • Your confirmation email is unclear. Humans have the attention span of a goldfish. Many of your new subscribers will enter their email addresses and skip off to do something else online - forgetting to check their inboxes. Later, when they do check their email, if they aren’t reminded of what they subscribed to, they may just trash your confirmation email thinking it was spam. Remind them what they opted in for in the subject line. Use your website’s name or some indicator to jog their memory.
  • Your confirmation email is getting caught in the spam folder. The spam folder is the email marketer’s worst nightmare. Don’t use spammy language in your confirmation email. 

Protip: After reading this section you might be tempted to turn off your double opt-ins in your email service provider. This is most likely not a good idea. Those who don’t confirm their email after you have these safeguards in place likely weren’t going to be engaged subscribers, anyway. Let them go.  

Email Marketing Metric #3: Your Email Open Rate

I bet you do it at least once per day.

You go to your email inbox. You scan through your unread emails, identify the ones you want to read and open, and trash the rest. 

And guess what? Your email subscribers do this, too. They do it with promotions, emails from friends, and even your emails. 

That’s why this metric measures the amount of people who actually open your emails. 

Let’s say you have a 20% email open rate, and 2000 email subscribers. That means that 400 of those subscribers would open your email. 

Now, let’s say you have a 5% click through rate and a 10% conversion rate on your sales page. 

Meaning that of those 400 opens, 20 people click through to your offer, and you’d make on average 2 sales. 

If you pay attention to this metric, you can increase that dramatically. If you increased your open rate to 35%, 700 people would open your email, 35 people would click through and 3.5 people would buy. 

Over a year, you’re increasing your sales by almost 20. If you have a high-ticket item, this is significant. If you’re not measuring your email open rates (and tracking them with diligence), you’re leaving a ton of sales on the table.

And this is one of the simplest stats to improve. I’ll show you how in just a minute.

How to Track Your Email Open Rates

Just like with unconfirm rates, almost every email service provider will give you data on your open rates. 

Luckily they’ll make it simple, too, by providing you a quick percentage per email. 

You want to track this on every email -- not only the open rate, but also the subject line of your email, because your subject line is most likely (but not always) the culprit for your high un-open rate. 

Common Issues for Underperformance

It’s probably…

  • Your subject line sucks. Most issues related to low open rates have something to do with your email’s subject line. Just like headlines on your content, email subject lines are the first point of contact between your visitor and your emails, and if yours suck, off to the trash bin your email goes.  

But it could be…

  • You’re using your business’s name instead of your own. One 2017 email marketing trend that will continue trending upward is more personalization. Writing emails like you’re writing them to a friend, and making them as personalized as possible, will increase your open rates. And sending emails from your business rather than you removes a huge chunk of that personalization.
  • You’re using your own name instead of your business name. What’s more recognizable and enticing - an email from you, or an email from your company? This largely depends on the size of your company and the brand your company represents. If you have a very strong, recognizable brand, test sending your emails from your company’s name instead of your own.
  • Your subject line is spammy. Spammy subject lines get filtered into the spam folder (either automatically or because your subscribers mark them as spam). Most people won’t open your emails if they end up in their spam folders. Check to see if your email subject line carries any spam-like terms - most email service providers will give you a “spam score”. 

Resources: The Complete Guide to Email Open Rates (& How to Increase Yours)

Email Marketing Metric #4: Clickthrough Rate

It’s the dream… 

Your subscriber sees your email in their inbox. Their interest is piqued immediately. They scramble to open the email, and once they’re in, they devour every word. 

They get all the way to the bottom of your email, and they can’t help but click on your call to action and do what you’re asking them to do.

But that’s not reality. In reality, clickthrough rates (the amount of people who act on the call to action in your email) are some of lowest of all aspects of email marketing in terms of percentage. 

That’s because your email has to sell the reader. And if it doesn’t? 

Fewer clicks. Fewer eyes on your offer. Fewer people buying from you. Fewer bills in your email list ATM

Tracking your clickthrough rates helps you understand which emails have performed the best in terms of getting people to act on your call to action…

So you can reverse engineer that success to write the best email, every time.

How to Track Your Clickthrough Rates

Within your email service provider, you’ll find your clickthrough rates alongside your email open rates on every email you send. 

With the clickthrough rate, make some notes about the email itself. What type of email was it, what was the call to action, and whether you used any marketing strategies like scarcity or social proof.

Track this on every email you send like with your open rates, so you can identify the high performing emails against those that are lagging behind. 

Common Issues for Underperformance

If you’re below the curve here, there are a few issues you could be experiencing. 

It’s probably…

  • Your email. Is the angle or topic of your email something that your audience is truly interested in? Did you add massive value to the email even without your subscriber having to follow your CTA?. Did you “sell” the value proposition in the email? Did you build scarcity, social proof, reciprocity, or another marketing strategy in your email to increase clickthrough rates?

But it could be…

  • Your call to action. Did you put enough CTAs in the email? Is your CTA enticing? Were you very clear with your ask?

Whether you’re emailing out content, a sales email or even just value you want your subscribers to follow your CTAs. 

If through tracking this metric you notice your clickthrough rates are much higher on an email that adds massive value through a case study of your product (social proof) you can use those elements in your future emails to boost your overall clickthrough rate.

Email Marketing Metric #5: Unsubscribe Rate

There’s nothing more disheartening than pouring your everything into an email that you send, only to see a flood of unsubscribes. 

And that’s even when unsubscribers don’t leave rude feedback.

While it’s natural to have some unsubscribes with every email you send, it’s problematic when you have more than average. 

You fought tooth and nail for each of your subscribers. Don’t let them go just because of a few common issues.

Track this metric to troubleshoot and improve that unsubscribe rate.

How to Track Your Unsubscribe Rate

Your unsubscribe rate should be tracked per email to troubleshoot what might have went wrong when the rate is higher than average. 

Your email service provider should give you stats on your per-email unsubscribe rates -- whether or not the email is a broadcast or an autoresponder email. 

Unlike the other metrics I’ve mentioned in this guide, don’t forget that the higher your unsubscribe rate is, the worse news it is for you. 

Common Issues for Underperformance

Before I get into the common issues if you’re seeing higher than average unsubscribes when you send an email, please keep in mind that it’s natural that with every email there will be a certain amount of unsubscribes. 

It’s only a problem if you see a huge uptick in unsubscribes, or if your rate is high to begin with. 

  • Your email is offensive or off-putting. Unless this is part of your brand, emails being offensive or off-putting will almost lead to a higher rate of unsubscribes. 
  • Your email list is stale. Humans are forgetful. If you add subscribers to your list, and then those people don’t hear from you for a certain amount of time (let’s say a week), or a chunk of time passes since the last time you’ve contacted them, they could have forgotten that they subscribed to your list in the first place.
  • Your list is unengaged. If you built a disengaged list - for example, if you hosted a giveaway for email subscribers but the product you gave away was appealing to everybody, and not just your target audience, those new subscribers were probably not going to be the most engaged people. They’re not interested in your topic so will unsubscribe at a much higher rate.  
  • You’re emailing too frequently. Some people and brands can get away with emailing every day, but unless you’re running a daily email course or challenge, the every-day email will lead to more unsubscribers. 
  • Your emails are too aggressive. There’s nothing wrong with selling to your email list. After all, you’re not email marketing for your health, and you’re providing them with tons of free value through your content and emails. But if every email you send is a sales email, or if they’re low value and too aggressively self promotional, you can expect your unsubscribe rate to skyrocket. 

Resources: 10 Rookie Mistakes Increasing Your Email Unsubscribe Rates (And How to Fix Them)

Email Marketing Metric #6: Sales

Email marketing ultimately serves a purpose. 

You’re marketing. Meaning, you’re hoping to sell your product or service through email. 

Sure, maybe not every email (we’d actually highly advise against this). But when you send out what we’ll call a “sales email”, you better be tracking the effectiveness of that email. 

If you’re not, how will you know what’s working?

One of the best (and really only) ways to increase your effectiveness, your productivity, and yes, your sales, is to find out what’s working (and what’s not) and do more of it. 

So What Averages Should You Expect?

When you’re first starting out, measure against industry standard. Mailchimp has this great table on open rates and click rates by industry.

You do this only when you’re first starting out though, for one huge reason:

Because you have nothing else to measure it against. As you start to track these things, you can begin to measure against yourself - which is far more meaningful. 

If we usually have a 30% open rate on our emails, and one of our emails only sees a 20% open rate, this puts us in a far better position to diagnose what is wrong with the email. 

Now, sure you can track these with each individual analytics tool. 

  • Your email service provider gives you some analytics
  • Your landing page software gives you some analytics
  • Google analytics tracks some of this data

But this is going to make your life really difficult, and you can’t properly diagnose issues through relying on the internal platform-based analytics. 

Instead, use the analytics these tools give you to keep your own tracking tool. 

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