8 Email Marketing Metrics That Matter

by Kristi Hines

Last updated on March 5th, 2018

When it comes to email marketing, there are key numbers you should be watching.

These numbers can prevent you from paying more than you should have to for your email service, sending emails that might get sent to the spam filter, and, in general, angering your subscribers.

Screenshots in this post are taking from a variety of different email marketing providers since have allow you access to certain statistics that others don’t. Also, keep in mind that you might not get some of these metrics if you don’t do certain things like send your emails in HTML or allow link tracking when creating your emails.

1 – Spam Percentage

Before you send your email, some email marketing providers will give your email a spam score based on the number of links included in it and email spam trigger words that appear throughout it. HubSpot made a great list of keywords to avoid, especially in the subject line of your email, otherwise your email might be lost in your subscriber’s spam filters.

2 – Open Rate

Your open rate is probably one of the top metrics you measure. This simply tells you the number of times your emails have been opened.

Some of the things you can learn from email open rates are:

  • Which headlines make subscribers want to open your email.
  • Which days your emails are opened on the most.
  • What percentage of your email list (on average) is responsive to your messaging.

3 – Click Rate

Another metric that is even more important than your open rate is your click rate.

This number will tell you that subscribers not only opened your email, but they also interacted with it by clicking on links to visit your website or view more about your products. One of the main reasons businesses build email lists is to increase their revenue – if your readers aren’t going from your email to your website, then you need to do what you can to boost your email marketing conversion rates.

4 – Action Rate Over Time

Curious what time your subscribers are most interested in taking action with your emails? Be sure to study your click metrics based on the time of day if available.

If you notice a trend such as an increased amount of action between a specific time period, try sending an email at that time for your next campaign. You might find that you will boost your click through rate even more by simply catering to your audience’s favorite time to read emails.

5 – Bounce Rate

Don’t panic if you see that your open rate is not as high as you might have expected. If an email server is coincidentally having a hiccup at the time you send your email blast, you might end up with a lot of bounced emails.

This simply means that your email marketing provider couldn’t deliver the email to a particular address. If you notice that the number is always the same, then you might have a lot of bad email addresses in your list of subscribers, but if it varies, then it’s probably normal.

6 – Complaint Rate

Unfortunately, complaints happen. This means that someone received your email and marked it as spam. There are tons of reasons that someone might do this – maybe they were having a bad day, getting lots of crummy emails, and yours happened to be in the middle of them all. Maybe they forgot that they subscribed to your list in the first place and now are offended that you are emailing them out of the blue.

So how do you lower your complaint rate? Some ways to do so include the following.

  • Use a confirmed opt-in. This means that when someone enters their email address to subscribe to your list, they will have to activate their subscription through an email confirmation. Does it mean people will remember that they subscribed to you? Not all of the time, but it does lower the chance of people getting subscribed against their wishes.
  • Don’t use sneaky subscription methods. Yes, you can probably build your list faster by including that always-checked check box in unsuspecting places like the end of a long shopping cart form or even your blog’s comment form. But getting people on your list like that is bound to increase your complaint rate, especially if you don’t have any double confirmation on the subscriber’s opt-in.
  • Don’t send too many emails. It’s kind of like out-staying your welcome at a friend or relative’s house. Just because you have permission to get into someone’s inbox doesn’t mean you should bombard them with multiple emails per day. Everyone’s acceptable rate of incoming emails vary – while you can’t satisfy everyone (like those that think one email a week is too much), you can use good sense and not send three in a day.

7 – Unsubscribe Rate

Just like you want to pay attention to your open rates to see which subject lines are most effective and your click rates to see what campaigns lead to the most visitors to your website, you have to pay attention to your unsubscribe rate per email. If you notice a spike in unsubscribes from a particular email, you’ll need to analyze exactly what your subscribers didn’t like and avoid it in future campaigns.

8 – Number of Unsubscribes

Most email marketing providers charge by the number of subscribers to your mailing lists. One incorrect assumption that some people make is that their numbers do not include people who have unsubscribed from your list when, in fact, they do. So you might be paying the next highest payment level just because you are 100 over the limit – something that could be avoided by simply deleting the people who have unsubscribed from your list.

How Do Your Statistics Compare?

Curious how your email marketing statistics stack up? MailChimp created a chart of average email campaign stats based on MailChimp customers organized by industry.

This Email Marketing Benchmarks report can help you determine if your emails are average, better than average, or could use some more work. What’s nice about this study is that it’s not all from giant corporations – 70% of their customers are small businesses.

What email marketing metrics do you pay attention to?



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Kristi Hines

Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, ghostwriter, and professional blogger who helps develop blog content and lead magnets for businesses.


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  1. Sapan Gupta says:
    April 16, 2018 at 3:27 am

    It is extremely important to look at the metrics of email marketing. They can help you understand how well your email campaigns are doing. This is also important as it helps you realize if you need to improve or wok on your email marketing campaigns. Email marketing is an essential method of marketing and when use wisely can bring great benefits. Thanks for this great post!

  2. divya jain says:
    September 6, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    Hi Kristi,

    Great post, really very informative. I have added just two more points to the same:

    (1) Revenue Per Email (RPE) – The formula to calculate RPE is Revenue Generated/( Email Sent – No. of Bounced Email). Range for RPE is tough to define, it depends on value of the product. Example – RPE is different for clothes, books, home furnishing, electronics , flats and villa’s etc.

    (2) Number Of Forwards – Though this metric is not that important compared to others but keeping a track of it will let you know how popular and liked your campaign is.

    Having your feeback would be nice.


    • September 7, 2014 at 11:19 am

      Great additions. Thanks for sharing, Divya.

  3. Mike says:
    May 12, 2014 at 9:44 am

    Thanks, Kathryn Aragon && neil.

    • neil says:
      May 12, 2014 at 2:53 pm

      You’re welcome 🙂

  4. Mike says:
    April 28, 2014 at 11:18 am

    If you send marketing emails you must have your eye on the numbers.

    First we run you through the regular metrics, tell you what to watch out for and ways to improve them. Then we give you additional metrics you must track to make your email marketing really work for you.

    • April 28, 2014 at 11:58 am

      True, Mike. It’s hard to be an effective marketer without knowing your numbers. Thanks for commenting.

    • neil says:
      April 28, 2014 at 1:19 pm

      Mike, I agree. It’s all about the metrics. Optimizing and testing is of the utmost importance!

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