What metrics really matter in email marketing?

July 5, 2017 McKenzie Gregory

 
 
 

Honing in on the email metrics that drive success for your business 

 
What metrics really matter in email marketing? The truth is, it depends on your goals.  
 
I realize that answer isn't a particularly satisfying one, especially when we all want magic bullet solutions to our marketing problems. But while it's easy to single out delivery rates or open rates or revenue generated as the absolute goal of email marketing, it doesn't really work like that. 
 
That's why I thought this exercise might be helpful: Rather than giving you some generic advice, I've compiled a few examples of how different brands might think about their email metrics in more actionable ways.
 
 

 

THE PUBLISHER

These days, publishers generally build their email strategy around one of two general goals: 
  1. The email is meant to drive traffic to content (and ad placements) on their website.
  2. The content is meant to be consumed directly in the email and is supported by sponsored placements. 
In the first scenario, you’re going to want to pay special mind to your clickthrough rate – after all, that's what's going to get you traffic.
 
But you should also monitor the bounce rate of your landing page – the percentage of visitors who navigate away from the site after viewing only that page. Are you providing a cohesive experience from the inbox to the landing page? Once people make it to your website, are they compelled to explore? This metric will tell you whether or not you're nailing the overall subscriber experience. 
 
 
Tech and business email newsletter The Hustle generates revenue with sponsored placements like this. 
 
 
In the second scenario (where the newsletter is meant to be consumed in the inbox), solid open rates are your best friend. The more eyes on the content of your email, the better, so pay special mind to your subject line and preheader text. Bonus points for clickthroughs on any ad placements or sponsored content you include.
 
 

 

THE ECOMMERCE STORE

No brand should inundate their subscribers with heavy-handed sales messages, but the ultimate goal of ecommerce email marketing is to make money. Because of that, the most important metric an ecommerce marketer can track is the revenue generated from each email campaign (which you can easily do through integrations with platforms like Shopify, Magento, and WooCommerce). 
 
With Emma + Shopify, you can see exactly how much revenue each email generates.
 
Ultimately, open and clickthrough rates become vanity metrics when the actual goal of your email is to get more (and larger) purchases. Avoid clickbaity subject lines and use the revenue data you capture to inform your strategy over time. 
 
 

 

THE NONPROFIT

Marketing for a nonprofit is all about building an increasingly engaged and involved community of supporters. That’s why, as a nonprofit, you’ll want to track historical behavior and email engagement over time.
 
Let’s say one of your largest donors has stopped opening your emails: That’s when you’ll want to deploy a strategic re-engagment campaign. Or maybe a brand new subscriber is showing tons of interest by habitually engaging with your email content: It might be the time to ask for a donation. 
 
Watching that sort of behavior can ensure you’re capturing the right moments in the donor lifecycle and providing the quintessential marketing maxim of "right message, right person, right time.
 
 

 

THE B2B COMPANY 

If you work in the B2B world, email most likely functions as a prospect nurturing tool for your business. You might send your subscribers valuable content until they raise their hands to learn more about you, or maybe you wait for them reach a high enough engagement score to be contacted directly by a salesperson. 
 
Regardless, one super important metric you’ll want to keep in mind is list growth. Make sure you’re always adding quality prospects to your email nurturing program by consistently releasing enticing (and valuable) gated content and providing opportunities to sign up for your list whenever possible, whether it's on your website, on your social channels, or at a trade event. 
 
 

 
 
I’d love to hear which email marketing metrics truly matter for your brand, so feel free to share away in the comments! 

About the Author

McKenzie Gregory

McKenzie Gregory is a content writer on Emma’s marketing team. A Nashville native, she can be found covering all things email on the Emma blog, debating hyphenation rules, and watching obscene amounts of Netflix without a trace of shame.

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