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How to Measure Email Campaign Performance [9+ Email Marketing KPIs]

Lance Concannon

Mar 21, 2024

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Email marketing remains one of the most powerful, cost-effective marketing tools. Recent data shows that 37% of brands are increasing their email marketing budgets to reach more than 4 billion daily email users. But as with any type of marketing strategy, results are never a given — you need to know how to measure email campaign success.

Email marketing delivers an impressive $36 in ROI for every $1 spent. But those results are the product of tons of market and audience research, content optimization, and a careful eye on performance. When you become a pro at building a list, tracking email marketing metrics, and improving your campaigns based on the lessons you learn, you can achieve results like that, too!

Let’s look at how to measure the success of an email marketing campaign to help you improve your efforts over time.

Table of Contents:

Why Measure Email Campaign Success?

Measure email campaign

Your email marketing results should speak for themselves, right? After sending a campaign, you should know it’s working by seeing an uptick in sales. 

That’s one way to gauge your success. But sales alone only paint a small part of a much larger picture. Not all email campaigns are designed to create immediate sales.

Things like the number of opens, the number of clicks, and the number of emails that never got delivered all influence your success. They can help you pinpoint the small nuances that make one campaign more effective than another.

When you connect the smaller dots between your start and end points, you’ll have a better idea of how to improve each campaign to make it the best it can be.

How To Measure Email Campaign Performance: 9 Email Marketing KPIs

Today’s tools and analytics make measuring email campaign effectiveness easier than ever. Your job as a marketer is to choose the right metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to pay attention to and learn from. 

Here are some good starting points that apply to nearly every email campaign.

Additional Reading: 50 Metrics to Measure Your Content Marketing Campaign, The Importance of Social Media Metrics, 14 Proven PR KPIs That Matter and How to Track Them

1. Click-to-Open Rate

One of the most telling email engagement metrics, click-to-open is a measure of how many recipients open an email.

If you sent 100 emails and 20 people open them, you have a 20% open rate.

A high email open rate indicates a strong relationship between the sender and recipient. In fact, the sender’s name is the number one reason why emails get opened. 

Reasons for opening an email

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A number of things can affect email open rates, including the subject line, frequency of sending, and time of day sent. These factors underscore why it’s important to learn how to measure the success of an email campaign. When you know more about what helps you get more opens, you can better optimize each campaign.

2. Click-Through Rate (CTR)

Clickthrough rate (CTR) measures how often people who receive an email marketing message click on a link within the message.

A high CTR indicates recipients are interested in the content of the email and are more likely to take action, such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter.

A high CTR is a good indication that an email marketing campaign is successful and worth continuing. If your CTR is low, it’s worth investigating why and making changes to improve it.

There are several factors that can influence CTR, including the quality of the email content, the relevance of the offer to the recipient, and the timing of the email. Similar to open rates, email marketers can use CTR data to improve their campaigns by testing different subject lines, offers, and send times to see what works best with their audience.

3. Conversion Rate

Email conversion rates are one of the most important metrics for email marketers. It tracks how many email recipients take the desired action, such as signing up for a webinar or making a purchase.

Each email campaign should have a specific goal — the thing you want people to do after reading your email. Without a goal, the conversion rate can be hard to track. Tip: Learn how to boost your conversion rate with influencer marketing.

4. Bounce Rate

Bounce Rate

The bounce rate represents the percentage of emails that fail to be delivered. People can't engage with marketing campaigns they never see, so you'll want to minimize bounce rates as much as possible.

There are two types of email bounces: a soft bounce vs. a hard bounce.

A soft bounce is an email that's returned to the sender because the recipient's mailbox is full or temporarily unavailable. Your email sender may keep trying to deliver the email in these cases. A hard bounce is an email that's returned to the sender because the recipient's address is invalid. 

If you have a high bounce rate, your emails are more likely to be flagged as spam.

Email providers try to minimize bounced messages by using techniques like address cleaning and feedback loops, but these aren’t foolproof. You should also be proactive in keeping an up-to-date contact list to prevent bounces.

It’s a good idea to check any bounced email addresses to see why they might have bounced. You might notice a misspelling or a missing @ sign, which could be easy fixes. At the very least, you can remove erroneous email addresses from your list so they won’t get factored into your other email marketing metrics.

5. Unsubscribe Rate

Not everyone who subscribes to your email list will stay there. To learn how many people are dropping off your list, you can track your unsubscribe rate.

There are a number of reasons why someone might choose to unsubscribe from an email list. Maybe they're no longer interested in the content being sent, or they're getting too many emails from that sender and want to cut down on the clutter. Whatever the reason, once someone hits that unsubscribe button, they're gone for good.

Email unsubscribe rates can vary depending on a number of factors. According to Campaign Monitor data, the average unsubscribe rate is about 0.17%. This means that for every 1000 emails sent, between 1 and 2 people will unsubscribe.

Your unsubscribe rate might be higher or lower than this, depending on your industry. One way to set the right expectations for email unsubscribes is to leverage a platform like the Meltwater Suite for industry benchmark data. 

Meltwater provides competitive benchmark data from millions of data points, sources, and campaigns from a variety of brands and industries. Using this data can help you understand what’s normal for your industry and customers so you can get a clearer picture of your success.

6. Subscriber List Growth Rate

Similar to losing subscribers, you can also track how many new subscribers you gain. The list growth rate metric is especially useful when you’re running dedicated campaigns to proactively grow your email list.

To calculate your contact list growth, subtract the number of new subscribers from the total number of unsubscribers/spam complaints. Then divide that number by the total number of subscribers on your email list. Multiply this number by 100 to get the percentage.

7. Email Forwarding Rate

The email forwarding rate is the number of times an email is forwarded from one user to another. The email forwarding rate can help you measure the popularity of an email or the engagement of its recipients. 

A high email forwarding rate may indicate users are interested in the content of the email and are sharing it with others. A low email forwarding rate may indicate that users are not engaging with the email or find its content uninteresting.

One easy way to boost this email metric is to include a call to action within the email encouraging your recipients to forward it to a friend or colleague.

8. Spam Score

Spam Score

Spam scores help email providers decide which messages to deliver to users' inboxes and which to filter into spam folders.

Your email spam score is determined by a number of factors, including the content of the email, sender reputation, and the recipient's preferences. Higher spam scores mean that an email is more likely to be considered spam by email providers.

This can negatively impact your delivery rate, as people with spam blockers may never receive your email (and therefore can't act on it).

9. Email ROI

Email marketing makes it easy to reach a return fast. There are very few costs involved, and you could reach hundreds, thousands, or more with just a few clicks.

But despite email marketing being cost-effective, it’s not “free.” That’s why marketers need to measure overall ROI.

Email ROI is the return on investment that a company sees from its email marketing campaigns. You can calculate this by taking the revenue generated from email marketing and dividing it by the cost of running the campaign.

Knowing your email ROI gives you insights into how effective your email marketing efforts are. If you’re not seeing a good ROI from your email campaigns, you may need to make changes to your strategy.

Other Items That Impact Your Email Marketing

Beyond these email metrics, several factors can affect your short-term and long-term email marketing success. 

One is your subject line. It’s one of the first things your recipients see in the inbox. It needs to grab the reader’s attention and make them want to open it.

Ideally, your subject line should be less than 60 characters. Keep it short and specific — shorter subject lines get as many as 75% more click-throughs!

Another factor is your call to action. Let your readers know what they should do next. If you’re getting lots of opens but not many clicks, you might want to A/B test a different CTA.

Email segmentation can also help you get better results. Segmenting your subscriber list ensures you’re sending only relevant messages to your target audience instead of blasting everyone with the same message. 

You can test each of these elements as you go to see if you can improve your email campaign results. Tracking your marketing metrics in real time gives you an opportunity to reach more people and make a bigger impact in the inbox.

Make Sense of Your Email Marketing Data

Knowing how to measure the success of your email campaign is easier with the right tools and technologies. That’s where Meltwater can make your email marketing strategy better and stress-free.

Meltwater takes a data-driven approach to email marketing campaign performance. Track all of your email metrics from a single location. Easily segment your audience based on nuanced factors, such as personal interests, behaviors, and demographics. See at a glance whether your campaign is hitting home so you can reallocate your budget, fine-tune your content, and drive better outcomes.

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