Measuring Email Campaign Effectiveness

There are few absolutes in marketing, so whether you’re using print, direct mail, social media, or email, it pays to test and measure the effectiveness of your campaigns. Knowing what works and what doesn’t allows you to massage, tweak, and customize your messaging and delivery, and ultimately maximize return on investment (ROI).
As on online-based tool, email sometimes gets put in the same marketing bucket as social media. But while measuring social media success is a bit of a black art, email marketing can leverage a solid set of metrics that have been proven to provide actionable feedback including:
  • Delivery rate. The number of emails actually delivered to recipient’s inboxes. It’s pretty obvious that before your emails can produce any success, they must get delivered. Your delivery rate should be 95% or higher. If it slips below this, you may have bad addresses on your list. Another reason for a low delivery rate is a subject line that uses words known to trigger spam filters, such as “Free.”
  • Open rate. The percentage of received emails that are opened versus ignored or trashed. Open rates vary slightly by industry, but typically, they hover in the low- to mid-20% range. Many marketers view this as an unreliable gauge as it depends on all images in the email being delivered and many email users have image blocking enabled. So even if they open your email, it won’t count in your open rate measurement.
  • Bounce rate. The percentage of total emails sent that could not be delivered to the recipient’s inbox. A soft bounce is a temporary problem with an address, such as a full inbox or a server issue. Resending usually results in delivery at some point. A hard bounce indicates a closed or invalid address, and these should be deleted from your list. If your emails continually return many hard bounces, your ISP may flag your organization as a spammer.
  • Click-through rate. The number of people who click on a link within an email relative to the total number of viewers of the email. If an email is sent to 100 people and 1 person clicks through to the website, the click-through rate is 1 percent According to MailChimp, click-through rates can range from 1.6 percent for restaurants to 6.6 percent for hobby related emails. Most rates are in the 3 percent to 4 percent range. The click-through rate is a measure of how effective and relevant your email is to a recipient.
  • Conversion rate. More important than open rates or click-through rates, conversion rates are the percentage of people who actually take action from an email, such as make a purchase or sign up for a service. This is the ultimate measure of an email’s success. Although it can be influenced by the quality of your website landing page and the ease of completing the requested action once a viewer is taken away from the email.
  • Unsubscribe rate. The percentage of delivered emails that result in an unsubscribe request. 

Game Plan

  • To learn how to use Google Analytics to track your email campaigns “beyond the click,” take a look at this Smart Insights blog post.
  • To learn more about how to measure and optimize your marketing program and channels, including your website, landing pages, search engine optimization, paid search, business blogging, social media, email marketing, and lead generation and marketing automation, download a free copy of Hubspot’s Ebook: An Introduction to Inbound Marketing Analytics.
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