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Hey there! I’m your host, Kristin Miller. If you don’t already know me, I’m a corporate marketer-turned entrepreneur, and I’ve spent over a decade creating and executing marketing strategies for businesses big and small.

And I am a firm believer that every business needs an email marketing strategy as a part of their marketing strategy. 

But today we’re not going to talk email marketing strategy. If you don’t already have an email marketing strategy, head back over to episode 1 on how to get started with email marketing.

If you’re sticking with me today, I’m going to assume you already have some type of email strategy in place. If you are consistently emailing your list (regardless of list size) every week – virtual high five!  If you’re like most online business owners and emailing your list more sporadically, let’s make a deal that after you’ve done the work of seeing what’s working with the emails you ARE sending, that you’ll be more confident to send emails more consistently. 

Email marketing is a lot of work, there’s no doubt about that. So it’s my goal today to help you understand what’s working so you can do more of it, and alternatively what’s not working so you can stop doing that.

The metrics I’m going to cover today are the most common things to look at when reviewing your email marketing. Your email service provider likely has all of these in their reporting back to you, but I’m going to help you make sense of what you’re looking at and walk you through setting up some benchmarks for yourself so you know where you’re at.  I’ll drop all this in the show notes so don’t worry about writing them down. You’ll be able to go back and reference it there.

Alright, let’s look at the 7 email marketing metrics you should have a pulse on. I’m going to list them first, then go into detail about each, and then wrap it up with some action steps you can take to see where you’re at in your business.

The seven I’m going to talk about today are:

  1. Open Rate
  2. Click to Open Rate
  3. Unsubscribe Rate
  4. Compliance Rate
  5. Bounce Rate
  6. Forward/Share Rate
  7. List Growth Rate

You’ve probably already heard of a few, if not most of these, depending on where you’re at with your business and your comfort level with email metrics.

Let’s break it down…

1. Open Rate

This is the percentage of people who opened your email, and is a stat to track weekly.  You should have a goal between 20-40%. Factors that influence this stat are: sender’s name, subject line, optimize for previews with pre-header text, day/time sent, and sending cadence (daily vs weekly).

2. Click To Open Rate

This is the percentage of people who clicked a link in your email after opening your email. This is a metric most aren’t tracking and I prefer to a traditional CTR. It does a better job of helping us understand of how engaging our content is within the email.

This is a stat to track weekly, and aim for a goal between 20-30%. Factors that influence it are:  anchor text on link, location of link in body of email, number of times you include the link, copy leading up to the link, and the call to action itself.

3. Unsubscribe Rate

This is the percentage of people who click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of your email.  Track this one weekly, and set a goal for under 2%. Factors that can increase this rate are: not having a strong welcome series, the sender “from” name isn’t recognizable, misleading subject lines, if you don’t email frequently enough or if you email too frequently.

4. Compliance Rate

This is the percentage of email recipients who have marked your email as spam. This is something to track weekly with a goal of less than 0.2%. Factors that drive this rate up include: sending from a “” email address, using purchased email lists, or not including an unsubscribe link in your email.

5. Bounce Rate

This is the percentage of emails that weren’t successfully delivered. There are two different types of bounces.

  • Hard bounce: permanent delivery failures for reasons like an invalid email address
  • Soft bounce: temporary delivery failures which can occur for a variety of reasons like a server being overloaded or the recipient’s mailbox being full. Your email service provider likely has a number of times a soft bounce can occur before they are automatically converted to a hard bounce and suppressed from your list.

This is a stat to track monthly with a goal of less than 2%.  Factors that influence it are: using a purchased list or not using a confirmed opt-in.

Be sure to check into how your email service provider automatically cleans up your bounces.

6. Forward/Share Rate

This is the percentage of email recipients who forwarded your email to a friend or shared it on social by clicking a “share” button in the email. Track this stat monthly and the goal for this is completely unique to your business.

Factors that influence this are: nurturing your email list with quality info and asking them to share are the biggest factors here.

7. List Growth Rate

This is the rate at which your email list is growing. Track it monthly, and again the goal is unique to your business as the size of your list greatly impacts it.

Remember, if your list isn’t growing, it’s dying.  People unsubscribe, email addresses go bad over time due to switching email accounts and abandoning old ones. Always be building!

Alright, now that we know what metrics we should be reviewing, and how often to review, let’s look at how to know if what we’re seeing is on-track or if there’s an area we need to focus in on for improvement to be sure the messages we all work so hard at crafting actually get seen.

Every business will have slightly different email marketing metrics, so it’s important to set some benchmarks for yourself first.

Hop into your email service provider and chart each of the seven metrics across your emails from the past 6-12 months. I like to have one line on the chart that is my weekly newsletter, and one that is my automated emails.

Once you’ve charted your metrics, you can find the average you experience for each and set some baselines and goals for yourself.

Then review your charts to find outliers. Are there emails that were unusually good, or unusually bad, for any given metrics?  Make note of this so you can dig in later to see what was different about that email.

If you want to dig even deeper, you can look for patterns in topic, subject line, or time of day sent. This deeper dive may be something I do only a few times a year to be sure I’m optimizing, unless I’m really looking to improve a specific metric like open rate.