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From Bounces to Opens: What Do My Email Marketing Metrics Show

Email marketer looking at her email marketing metrics
Source: Freepik

Tracking email marketing metrics is imperative to accurately measure your email campaigns’ effectiveness and pinpoint where improvements can be made. Failing to monitor these metrics could result in missed opportunities and hinder the success of your email marketing efforts. In this article, we will discuss the different email marketing metrics and how you can use them to improve your email marketing efforts and maximize your chances of success.

1. Open Rate

There are a couple of different email marketing metrics to look at considering email opens. Unique opens represent individual subscribers that have opened your email, while total opens show how many times these emails were opened (some may open the email several times). In other words, the total amount of registered opens. 

  • Calculating total open rate: divide the total number of times the email was opened by the number of emails delivered in the campaign (bounces subtracted). If one recipient has opened the email 5 times, then 5 opens will be recorded in the opening rate statistics from them. 

The unique open rate shows the percentage of openers divided by the total number of emails delivered. 

  • Calculating unique open rate: divide the total number of email openers by the number of emails delivered in the campaign (bounces subtracted). Even if the recipient has opened the email 5 times, they are marked as 1 unique email opener. 

Many email marketers prioritize optimizing subject lines to increase open rates, but the focus should really be on optimizing click-through rates for more engagement and success. 

Open rates are misleading for a number of reasons. An email is counted as opened if the recipient receives the images in the message. Some email subscribers tend to block images by default. So even if these subscribers open the email, their open won’t get included in the final open rate. That’s why the open rate is generally skewed and often seen as an inaccurate measure for marketers to determine the efficacy of their campaigns. 

The open rate average across industries is 34.46%. To still improve your open rate, remember to clean your mailing list from time to time. In this stage, you can check what your email marketing platform is telling you about the activity of various subscribers. You may also consider using an email verifier to remove invalid or inactive email addresses. This way, you’ll improve your open rates and engagement with your audience. 

2. Click and Click-through Rate

Like the open rate, you can calculate the click rate in several ways. Your campaign’s unique click rate represents the total number of subscribers who clicked on any link. It does not take into account how many times an individual subscriber clicked on a link. On the other hand, the total click rate refers to the overall number of clicks received on your campaign. 

  • Calculating unique click rate: you can determine the unique click rate by dividing the number of recipients who clicked on a link in your email by the number of delivered emails (bounced emails excluded). 
  • Calculating total click rate: the total click rate can be calculated by dividing the number of times your link was clicked in the email by the number of delivered emails (bounced emails excluded). 

Click-through rate (CTR) stands for the percentage of email recipients who opened your email and also clicked on one or more links in the email. 

  • Calculating CTR: you can calculate the CTR percentage by the recipients that have clicked on a link in your email, divide that by the number of emails delivered and multiply it by 100.
How to calculate the email CTR
Source: Hubspot

These email marketing metrics hint at how many people actually read your email. CTR is the first metric most email marketers track because it gives a quick overview of marketing emails’ efficiency. Click-through rates are typically significantly lower than open rates. Just because someone opens your emails doesn’t mean they will click the links in the email or read the whole thing.

CTR also helps you understand the results of A/B testing, enabling you to improve this metric and your overall email marketing performance. You can also compare the CTR of different sending times to determine when your subscribers will most likely interact with your emails. 

To increase your CTR, ensure you send personalized and relevant content to your recipients. You can do this better by segmenting your audience by location, profession, and if they are a customer or not. According to a study, the average email click-through rate across industries is 2.91%. The ideal click-through rate for emails varies by industry, typically ranging from 1% to almost 5%. It’s generally reasonable to expect a click-through rate of around 2.5% on average.

If you make changes to your content and still don’t get a higher CTR, that indicates something might be wrong with your audience targeting. 

3. Conversion Rate

Conversion rate is the percentage of email recipients who click on a link within an email and complete a desired action, such as filling out a lead generation form or purchasing a product.

  • Calculating conversion rate: you can calculate the conversion rate with the number of people who completed the action divided by the number of total emails delivered and multiplying it by 100. 

Example: 400 people who completed the desired action ÷ 20,000 total emails delivered * 100 = 2% conversion rate. 

After someone opens your email, the next milestone is to get them to click on your offer. They need to take action. If you send an email offering an eBook for download, a link to an online course, or a webinar invite, you need people to click through and register. That is the conversion. Good graphics in your emails help you convert more people. 

The definition of a conversion ties directly to the call-to-action or CTA in the email, and the CTA should speak directly to the overall goal associated with email marketing. 

Conversion rate is one of the most important email marketing metrics for your purposes. The trail doesn’t end with the subscriber following a specific action course. A click doesn’t always lead to a purchase. When tracking conversion rates, see if the money invested into your email marketing is paying off. 

The easiest way to do this is to divide the number of purchases by the total number of emails sent. Then multiply that number by 100. If 100 people buy from you after sending 5000 emails, the conversion rate is 2%. A conversion rate between 2 to 5% is a good ratio.

If your conversion rate could be better, the solution may be making your subject lines stand out or finding inspiration to create fresh content. Also, check whether your landing page is easy to understand with the CTA button in a prominent position. You may not only see a low conversion rate but also lose subscribers from your list if they face difficulty signing up. 

4. Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is the percentage of total emails sent which couldn’t be delivered to the recipient’s inbox. 

  • Calculating bounce rate: you can calculate the bounce rate by the total number of bounced emails divided by the number of emails sent and multiplying it by 100. For example, if you sent 1000 emails, and 100 of them bounced, then the bounce rate is 1%. 

When tracking bounces, two terms matter – hard and soft bounces.

Soft bounces result from a temporary problem with a valid email address, like a full inbox or a problem with the recipient’s servers. The servers may put these emails on hold until the problem clears itself. That’s usually not a big thing to worry about.

On the flip side, hard bounces result from invalid or non-existent email addresses, and these emails won’t get delivered because the recipient’s email address doesn’t exist. This problem is more likely to occur during cold email outreach

Remove hard bounce email addresses from your list because ISPs see bounce rates as a key factor determining sender reputation. Your sender reputation will go down the drain if you send too many emails to bounced addresses. In general, a less than 2% bounce rate is ideal.

Email bounce rate denotes the percentage of emails that don’t reach the recipients successfully. It occurs when the sender receives a non-delivery report for an email. When you have carefully grown your email list and crafted your messages, there’s nothing more disheartening than a large percentage of your emails never making it past your subscribers. 

There are many reasons why you want to focus on the bounce rate. A high bounce rate indicates too many fake or inactive email addresses in your list. Plenty of people give fake emails to access your opt-in without giving you their real information. A large number of fake email addresses affect your bounce rate, and high bounce rates negatively impact your reputation.

If your bounce rate is too high, start by removing inactive emails from your list. To do this, implement a double opt-in to reduce fake subscribers and ensure that the subscriber is truly interested in being on your list. This makes anyone signing up to your list confirm their subscription. 

Business woman working on her laptop at home
Source: Freepik

5. Overall ROI

The email ROI measures the overall return on investment for the email marketing campaigns you are running. This implies the total revenue divided by the total ad spend.

  • Calculating overall ROI: the additional sales made minus the amount spent in the campaign divided by what’s invested in the campaign * 100 gives you the percentage of overall ROI. 

Determine the overall ROI of your email marketing as a sales tool. If you haven’t started, start with an SLA (Service Level Agreement) system assigning different values to different types of leads based on the likelihood of them generating revenues. SLAs for marketing generally focus on these things below:

  • Total number of leads
  • Number of qualified leads generated
  • Their contribution to revenue

Calculate your spend

The immediate first step in calculating your email ROI is to calculate how much you’re spending on email marketing. 

Although it may appear simple at first, there still are some complexities to consider. One suggestion is to begin by exploring your email marketing automation software.

However, this doesn’t yield a reliable result when calculating ROI since there are always plenty of other expenses to factor in, primarily time spent on email marketing for one. This means you need to calculate the time each team member spends on email marketing and convert that to billable hourly rates. Team bandwidth plus spending on ESP goes into email marketing.

Calculate your gain

How much your email campaign brings is easy to calculate, especially with Google Analytics. You can attribute all sales and visitors directly from email as a channel. 

To calculate your gain, calculate the value of a single lead. You can trace every conversion that can be attributed to your email campaign, including site traffic. Then multiply the number of conversions by the value of a lead to get the total revenue from the email campaign.

The equation below helps you calculate the ROI.

Calculate your ROI

Plug the data into the equation below:

(Gain-Spend)/Spend=ROI

When you subtract the gain from the spend and divide that number by the spend, you get the ROI. You then multiply it be 100 to get the percentage value.

For example, you spend $100/month for your ESP. Add to that the costs of hiring a marketer directly working on email campaigns for 2 hours, five days a week, at $16 per hour. In this case, you spend close to $600 monthly on the marketer, bringing your annual spend to $8400.

If your value of a lead is $100 and your email campaigns bring 300 leads, then the total revenue you generate is $30000. This results in a 197.6% ROI as given by the formula: ($30,000 – $8400)/$8400 = 2.571. You then multiply the number by 100 to arrive at the percentage value of your ROI which is 257.1%.

6. Unsubscribe Rate

Email marketers often find the unsubscribe rate to be one of the discouraging email marketing metrics, as it represents the percentage of recipients who opt out of your mailing list to stop receiving future messages from you. 

  • Calculating the unsubscribe rate: you can calculate this rate by dividing the number of unsubscribes by the number of delivered emails. 

A 2023 research by Neuailes Global shows that the average unsubscribe rate for email campaigns is 0.17%. Generally, an unsubscribe rate higher than 0.5% is regarded as unfavorable. 

The unsubscribe rate doesn’t present an entirely accurate picture of the health of your list. Not everyone goes through the formal unsubscribe process when they grow tired of seeing your messages. They might perhaps delete your email or leave it unread, but one thing is clear – they’re not engaged at all. That’s why the CTR and conversion rates are more well-rounded numbers to understand the overall engagement of your subscribers. Keep an eye out for unengaged subscribers so that you can remove them at some point. 

Don’t always take losing subscribers as a negative indicator, as not everyone is a great fit. When you eliminate unengaged subscribers, you make room for the right people on your list. However, checking the unsubscribes every month helps you calculate the growth rate and enables you to understand which areas to improve. 

Getting unsubscribes is more than normal, but it could be a problem if you see a significant uptick of people leaving your list. In this case, look at the timing of the unsubscribe increase and analyze the email, campaign, or overall marketing tactics that might’ve caused the increase. 

Person analyzing statistics behind laptop
Source: Freepik

7. Spam Complaint Rate

Another essential thing to know is which inbox folder gets your outgoing messaging. It’s a problem if your emails end up in the subscriber’s spam folders. Messages that go to spam also get frequently reported, hurting your visibility, meaning ISPs associate your mailing address with spam. 

  • Calculating spam complaint rate: divide the number of people who marked your email as spam by the total number of people who received the email.

As an indicator of performance, a 0.1% spam complaint rate is generally acceptable and typical of reliable senders. However, a rate of 0.5% or more is excessive and should be avoided. 

If too many of your emails go to spam, your reputation will fall off a cliff, and your account may even get blocked. To stop emails from landing in spam, you should limit sending and concentrate on the most engaged users, gradually warm up segments that you’ve seen the most problems with, and focus on providing value through your messages. 

If you get a high spam score, what’s obvious is that it’s difficult for subscribers to see value in what’s being sent to them. As difficult as that sounds, it indicates it’s time to reevaluate your marketing campaigns.

The Bottom Line

Make it a priority to track the above email marketing metrics to understand your campaigns’ performance. This will help you know your subscribers better and create the kind of content they love getting. 

Everything starts with your subject lines and whether or not they entice your audience to open the email. You may never get your subscribers back if you lose them before they even open the email. Next, tracking the number of people clicking on the links inside an email is essential. If you need help getting people to act, segment your email list and deliver even more personalized content.