Would you take email marketing more seriously if you could use it to generate a 500% ROI? Well, it’s time for you to invest in email because the actual email marketing ROI is closer to 3,800%.

Email continues to be one of the most successful marketing channels for business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) messaging. If you’re new to the email marketing game, here are three of the basic metrics you’ll need to know.

Top email marketing metrics:

  • Email Deliverability
  • Email Open Rate
  • Email Click-Through Rate

What is Email Deliverability?

Email deliverability refers to the ability of an email to reach the inbox of a subscriber – or be delivered. For example, if you sent a marketing email to a list of 1,000 subscribers and only 900 subscribers received the email in their inbox, the email deliverability would be 90%.

Email deliverability is often confused with email delivery rate. Email delivery rate refers to any email that is accepted by the internet service providers (ISPs) – meaning it didn’t get returned because of a soft or hard bounce.

The major difference between email deliverability and email delivery rate is that the delivery rate includes any email that is accepted by the ISP, even if it’s filtered by spam. On the other hand, email deliverability refers to emails that actually reach the subscriber’s inbox, not emails that are blocked by spam filters.

Unfortunately, ISPs don’t always let senders know whether their emails are reverted to spam folders, so it can be difficult to measure email deliverability – but, it’s still a vital consideration for your email marketing efforts.

According to a 2017 study from Return Path, it’s estimated that 77% of delivered emails reach the inbox.

Why is Email Deliverability Important?

Email deliverability is important because it indicates your total email marketing reach. If you send emails to a list of 10,000 subscribers and only 1,000 receive the email in their inbox that means 9,000 emails were not delivered or ended up in the spam folders. This results in email deliverability of 10%.

Because email deliverability is based on the percentage of emails that reach the audience’s inbox, it’s an accurate representation of the total email audience at your disposal. In the example above, the actual reach of your emails is 1,000 even though the entire list was 10,000.

This number is important because it provides the baseline to measure the subsequent metrics such as open rates and click-through rates. Rather than basing 100 opens on the entire list (10,000), you would use 1,000 which is the total number of subscribers who could potentially open it.

How Do You Improve Email Deliverability?

There are several variables that affect your email deliverability such as bounces, throttling, ISPs, spam, and bulking among other reasons. Moreover, nuances such as spammy subject lines, single opt-ins, not using authentications, and unclear unsubscription options can impact your deliverability negatively.

To help improve your email deliverability, you should start by maintaining clean email lists. It’s estimated that email lists deteriorate by 25-30% every year. That means that if you haven’t updated an email list in a few years, you’re likely to see more elevated bounce rates than if you were touching your list frequently.

In addition to updating email lists, consider authenticating your email domain. Email authentication is basically a way for you to tell spam filters that your domain is legit. This simple step can help you avoid some of the automated spam filters that could hurt your deliverability.

Finally, you can improve your deliverability by using an organic opt-in process. In recent years, businesses have reverted to buying email marketing lists to circumvent building their own email lists. This shortcut can have a severe effect on your email deliverability. Instead, practice organic email capturing strategies and use double opt-in features to grow an engaged and verified list of emails.

What is the Email Open Rate?

Email open rate is a metric that refers to the total number of delivered emails that subscribers open from an email marketing campaign. For example, if you sent 1,200 emails to your subscriber list with 200 bounced and 100 opened, your email open rate would be 10% (100 / (1,200 – 200)).

Open rates will depend on a lot of variables such as deliverability, subject line, and message. On average, it’s estimated that a 20-40% is a good open rate for branded emails.

It’s important to understand that email open rates are not a perfect measurement, and there are instances where email open rates may not be completely accurate. Even still, open rates offer insight into the performance of your email marketing campaigns.

Why is the Email Open Rate Important?

Quite simply, email open rates are important because it indicates how often your subscribers are opening emails once they reach their inbox. This is a vital metric to analyze because it reveals how successful you are at engaging your audience via email.

If your open rates are low, it could be the result of many issues related to elements like subject lines, email frequency, segmentation, and subscriber churn among others. As a marketer, you should always keep an eye on your open rates – especially when sending to the same subscriber list.

If you start to see your open rates declining or notice a rate that is uncharacteristically low for your audience, it may be the sign of a larger issue with your email marketing.

How Do You Improve Email Open Rates?

Open rates are one of the most important metrics for email marketers to analyze and improve. If you want to elicit action from your subscribers, you need them to open your email first.

To help you improve your email open rates, consider:

  • Using a business email address: If you’re sending mass emails from a free email provider such as Yahoo! or Gmail, you’re likely to see a lower open rate than if you were sending emails from your business domain. Consumers want to feel safe when opening emails and shy away from messages that come from non-professional addresses. Fortunately, you can create a free business email address in minutes – which will help you improve your professionalism and open rates.
  • Improving your subject lines: Your email subject lines are arguably the most important way to increase your open rates. In fact, 35% of customers open emails based on the subject line alone. If you want to improve your subject lines, try humanizing them by using emojis, adding personalization, removing buzz words, and asking questions. These subtle changes can drastically improve the effectiveness of your email subjects.\
  • Making your emails mobile friendly: An astounding 59% of emails are opened on mobile devices. If your emails are not mobile-friendly, your subscriber may avoid opening any future messages from your address.
  • Not overwhelming your subscribers: One of the biggest issues with email marketing is related to frequency. If you’re sending emails to your subscribers too often, they will become numb to your messaging and will often ignore your emails. Instead, focus on segmenting your lists and sending emails that are highly targeted and actionable. This approach will increase your open rates and conversions.

What is the Email Click-Through Rate (CTR)?

The email click-through rate (CTR) is one of the most important email marketing metrics. It refers to the percentage of people who open an email and click the call-to-action within the email. Most email marketing campaigns have some key objective that requires the subscriber to click a link. The number of people who click the link divided by the total number of emails delivered equals the CTR.

Why is the Email Click-Through Rate Important?

The click-through rates on your emails are important because it indicates how successful you are at enticing action from your emails. If you have a high email open rate but a low click-through rate, it can indicate that your messaging is misaligned or poorly written. You may also have a low click-through rate because of subtle nuances like the time you send the email, the segmentation of your email lists, the length of your message, or the position of your link or CTA.

Making an effort to improve your CTR can have a significant effect on your business. The more email subscribers you get to click your CTA, the more conversions you’ll receive. As such, email marketers should constantly track and iterate their email strategy to optimize their CTR.

How Do You Improve Email Click-Through Rates?

Generally speaking, click-through rates on emails are relatively low. In fact, a 2018 report from MailChimp found that the average click rate for marketing emails was 2.43%. With open rates between 20%-40%, this shows that most businesses struggle to elicit clicks – even if they can get subscribers to open the email.

The strategy for improving email click-through rates is similar to how you might improve a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign. You want to start by making sure your audience is defined and segmented. Then, you should craft a compelling message to that audience that focuses on their problems as it relates to your solution. Finally, you need to make sure the link and subsequent page relate to the messaging.

In addition to the macro approach to improving click-through, there are small tweaks that you can make to improve click-through, such as using urgency in your language to elicit action. By adding language such as “limited supply,” “last chance,” or “24-hours,” you can entice subscribers to act. You can also include CTAs in unexpected areas such as your email signature to catch the reader’s eye.

Improving CTRs will often require a trial-and-error approach. Don’t be afraid to test different strategies to see what works best for your audience and market.

Build Off the Basics

Email marketing is not going away. It’s one of the most effective channels for businesses to communicate with their audience directly. As such, it’s important for you to understand the basics of email marketing and the metrics with which to measure your success.

While the tips above will help you get started with building an email marketing campaign, you’ll need to continue to grow and iterate your strategies to yield the best results.

Author: Derek Miller for Fit Small Business

Derek Miller, MBA is a digital marketing expert working with small-to-medium-sized businesses and start-ups. His experience includes developing content marketing strategies for clients of CopyPress, working with local businesses in Tampa to grow their online presence, and planning the digital growth initiatives for Great.com, among others. He also writes frequently for publications like GoDaddy, TheBalance, and StartupCamp.