Email marketing

Measure performance and improve your email marketing campaigns


You should monitor the effectiveness of your email marketing to make sure you're getting value from the time and effort you're spending on it. This will help you to improve future email marketing campaigns.

What email data should I monitor?

Most email marketing providers offer data tracking for email marketing campaigns highlighting:

  • Email delivery success including details of bounce types whether a soft bounce, which might occur when a customer's email inbox is full, or a hard bounce, which might occur when the customer has closed down an email account. Effective email marketing software will automatically assist with key deliverability issues removing those accounts that no longer exist from your marketing listsand therefore not adversely affecting your credibility.
  • Opens - total and unique.
  • Open rate - this is the number of people who opened your email divided by the total email delivered. Factors that impact open rate are sender recognition, subject line and when you send your email.
  • Clicks - total clicks include multiple clicks by individuals and unique are clicks by a single individual eg if a single user clicks a specific link five times the server will record five total clicks and one unique click. It is insightful to look at total clicks for specific calls-to-action especially where there are multiple links within an email. This will help you determine the most popular links. A heat map can also highlight this.
  • Click-through rate - this is the number of unique clicks divided by the total emails delivered. Factors that impact click-through rate include content within your email, relevance of your email to the recipient and the effectiveness of the call to action.
  • Click-to-open rate - this is the total of unique clicks divided by emails opened. Click-to-open rate gives a deeper insight into email campaign performance because it looks at post-open interactions in relation to opens rather than the total delivered. This puts the focus of the metric on the performance of the actual email content and removes factors which influenced the recipient to open the email.
  • Unsubscribes - keep an eye on your unsubscribe rate. This should be fairly low but if it starts to increase you should ask yourself whether your content is relevant, if your message is confusing or if you are maybe sending emails too frequently. To identify the reasons why customers are unsubscribing you could ask them as part of the unsubscribe process.

This email marketing data will help you identify what works in your email and what doesn't e.g. if your open rates are low then there must be something wrong with your subject line and if your unsubscribes are high then your message might be too general and you should think about the relevancy of message. It also gives you the opportunity to test your email campaigns in order to fine tune your email messages and maximise success. By focusing on the number of clicks for particular content within your email you can determine which type of content is popular with your audience. If you have multiple links within your email campaigns then a heat map can be an effective way to determine the effectiveness of content and positioning of content within the email.

Segmenting your customers

This performance data can also make it easier for you to segment your customers based on their actions in your email. For example a sports store could compile a marketing list of all the customers who clicked on a link to a swimming article in a previous email campaign and send a targeted email on swimming accessories in a follow up email campaign.

Benchmark your email marketing

You can benchmark your email marketing efforts in order to gage how well you are doing in comparison with industry standards. There are reports published by different email marketing providers each year showing average results for opens, clicks and unsubscribes for different sectors. You'll be able to find these with a simple search on the internet.

Prepare to respond to your email campaign

It's important to consider how you're going to handle the response from an email marketing campaign. Does your website have the capacity to cope with a large spike in traffic? Have you got enough capacity to answer the phones and respond to emails if you get a 5 per cent response rate? Will you be able to offer your product or service to recipients within the promised time?

Email marketing may give you valuable contact with new customers, as well as reinforcing your contact with existing ones, so spend some time planning how you will handle the response, to ensure you don't let anyone down.

Email automation

You can set up your email marketing software to automatically send a customer an email based on an action they have performed on your website or in a previous email. For example you could set up a series of automated welcome emails to go at specific intervals when a user has signed up to your website. Another effective email automation is when a user abandons a shopping cart on your website an automatic email is sent to prompt them to complete the purchase, perhaps even offering a money off incentive to do this. These email automations can take a bit of time and planning at the start but once they are up and running can save you a lot of time and can be effective in increasing web visits and sales.