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7 Email Marketing Metrics You Should Track (and What They Mean)

You just finished writing the perfect email to your subscribers. Way to go! Now, how do you know all that time you spent crafting it was worth it?

The answer lies in your email analytics (posted by Brandon Olsen, Aweber specialist).

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Analytics are an essential (and often overlooked) part of your email marketing strategy. When you know things like how many subscribers are opening your emails and what links they’re clicking, you get a look into how your subscribers feel about the content you send them. And as you discover the story told by your analytics, you can identify opportunities to make improvements and bring more value to your readers.

So what should you be looking for to measure the impact of your emails? Here are seven email marketing metrics you need to track (and what they mean):

Open rate

Your email open rate measures the effectiveness of your subject lines, as well as the best times to email your subscribers. With this insight, you can identify how you can get more people to view your emails.

Open rates are calculated by taking the unique opens (i.e., the total number of unique subscribers who open your email) and dividing it by the total number of recipients. For example, if I send an email to 100 subscribers and 30 of them open it, I would have a 30 percent open rate.

Here’s a piece of advice as you track your open rates: since you want to know how many subscribers are actively engaging with your emails, you’ll want to track unique opens instead of total opens.

Total opens represents the number of times an email is opened, which can be misleading because a subscriber may open your email multiple times.

Take the previous scenario for example. If the 30 subscribers who opened your email opened it twice, that would mean you have 60 opens and you’d have a 60 percent open rate. Not an accurate metric, right?

Unique opens, on the other hand, only counts the number of subscribers who opened your email – regardless of how many times they opened it.

While observing your unique opens provides a more accurate picture, tracking email opens isn’t fool-proof. Every open is detected when an invisible tracker image embedded within the email is displayed. However, if your subscribers have disabled images in their email client, it won’t track their opens, which impacts your open rates.

To help resolve this, ask your subscribers to add your “from” address to their address book. This not only guarantees that your emails will arrive in the inbox, but it also will ensure that opens are being tracked (remember that little invisible tracker image I mentioned).

Click-through rate

Your email click-through rate tells you whether or not your email content and call to action is relevant to your subscribers. The insight you gain from your click-through rate metrics can help you optimize the content of your emails; if you notice a lot of people clicking a link to one blog post instead of another, you can assume they’d prefer to receive more content on that topic in the future.

Similar to open rates, click-through rates can be calculated based on unique clicks or total clicks. To get a more accurate idea of how many subscribers are engaged with your emails, you’ll want to look at the total unique clicks (i.e., the number of subscribers who clicked on a link in your email) and divide it by the total number of recipients.

Again, don’t fall into the trap of calculating click-through rate based on total clicks (i.e., the number of times a link was clicked). This is misleading because a subscriber may click the same link multiple times, counting those as “clicks.” Instead, check your unique click-through rate to determine exactly how many subscribers are engaging with your email content.

You can also use your click-through rate to see what type of content your readers find compelling, and what they’re less interested in. With this information, you can focus more on content you know your subscribers will enjoy instead of sending random emails.

Web traffic

If a goal of your email marketing strategy is to increase traffic to your blog or website, you’ll want to track your web traffic results as well.

Web analytics will not only show you how many people are coming through to your website from your email, but also how long they’re staying on your site, where else they’re going on your site, where they’re leaving your website, and more.

To track web traffic to your site from your emails, I recommend using Google Analytics. Adding UTM tracking codes onto links in your emails allows you to capture and analyze email referral traffic within Google Analytics. (If you’re an AWeber customer, here’s how to integrate Google Analytics with AWeber.)

If traffic is low, for example, that might mean you need to make your email content more engaging. Or perhaps the content you’re sending them to isn’t compelling enough, and you should try sending them a web page or blog post related to a different topic.


Are you selling a product or service in your emails? To see how much revenue your emails are generating, you can track the sales that resulted from each email.

Sales from your email are tracked when someone opens you email, clicks through to your site, and makes a purchase.

To get this information, use Google Analytics to set up sales goals and tracking conversions. This is typically done using a destination goal within Google Analytics with your destination being a landing page where buyers land after making a purchase.

By using the appropriate UTM tracking codes on your email links, you’ll be able to track sales conversions from your emails. However, this approach won’t allow you to tie the revenue to specific subscribers, limiting your ability to segment and target those subscribers in the future.


Losing subscribers is difficult for any email marketer to cope with. You want to have as many people on your list as possible, but you also want to send to people who truly want to hear from you.

Rest assured that unsubscribes are a normal and common part of maintaining a healthy email list.

There are many reasons someone may unsubscribe from your emails. Maybe your email content isn’t satisfying their needs anymore. Or perhaps you’re sending too frequently.

Subscribers typically have a few different options when unsubscribing from your list. They can click the “unsubscribe” link in your email, or use an app like Unroll.me to get the job done. In Gmail, people also have the option to click the “unsubscribe” link next to your name and email address. Regardless of how they choose to remove themselves from your list, you should make it easy for them to do so.

To learn why people are leaving your list, ask them for their feedback. This will help you better understand the reasons why they left and what you can do to bring them back or prevent others from leaving.

If more people are unsubscribing than they are joining your list, it might be time to re-evaluate your email content strategy and your open and click-through rates. If they’re low, you might need to see how you can send more relevant and compelling content.

Bounce rate

Bounces are a good indication of the health of your email list, and they’re calculated by taking the total number of bounces and dividing it by the total number of recipients.

Bounce rates are broken out into two categories: hard bounces and soft bounces.

A hard bounce means a recipient’s email account is closed or invalid. Most email marketing providers will automatically unsubscribe someone who hard bounces.

A soft bounce means a recipient’s email account is temporarily unavailable. This typically happens when a server is unavailable or a recipient’s inbox is full. Most email marketing providers will continue to send to a soft bounce several times before automatically unsubscribing them from your email list.

Ideally, you want to aim for a bounce rate that is less than five percent. To do so, my advice is to maintain a clean, active and engaged email list.

Complaint rate

Complaints occur when a subscriber marks your email as spam. Your complaint rate is calculated by taking the total number of complaints and dividing it by the total number of recipients. Your goal should be to keep your complaint rate no higher than 0.1 percent.

A consistently high complaint rate can have serious consequences on your deliverability and potentially get you into trouble with your email marketing provider. Again, sticking to email marketing best practices will help you “>maintain a low complaint rate.

How are your emails doing?

Focusing on your analytics is essential to improving your email marketing game. With them, it makes it easier to gauge whether your emails are delighting subscribers.

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Home Profit Game Plan Part 1

Get Started

Let’s start with the basics.  Does this picture represent how you feel about the whole process of generating leads and building a list? (by Jeff Herring)

We will start with an autoresponder.  This is a tool that allows us to send automated follow up messages to a subscriber.  It allows for automation, instead of you having to write down when someone joins, and manually email the messages in the order you want your subscriber to receive them.

You can begin to set up your autoresponder by having a campaign name or list name.  This allows you to create multiple campaigns to build different lists.  If I am doing a lead generation list I would not be sending subscribers information on fitness, they would be on a separate list receiving different content.  We also create a form code that we copy and paste into our lead capture pages, which allows them to be connected and function properly.  We will also set up a thank you page that the subscriber will receive to acknowledge that he or she has subscribed to our list.  You can use a generic page or customize it.

The order and the way these parts of the autoresponder are ‘named’ can vary from provider to provider.  However, this is the general process.

Next we need to learn more about squeeze pages, or lead capture pages.  The term squeeze page comes from the idea that you are trying to squeeze information out of someone.  At a minimum we need an email address so our autoresponder can send our messages. We can also set up our page to ask for the name and phone number.  Most of these pages will ask for the name, because you can set up most autoresponders to mention someones name when they receive your emails.

One of the most important components for our page is the lead magnet.  The lead magnet is a gift, also known as an ethical bribe, to encourage someone to agree to enter their email address and start receiving your emails.  This usually takes the form of a report, a video, a pdf document, or check lists.

Now let’s assume we have our autoresponder and lead capture page set up, what is next?   We are now ready to accept subscribers, but they will just join our list and will NOT be receiving any content.  We need to go to our autoresponder and set up some emails to be sent when someone subscribes.  You choose a list (how about the one for lead generation) and then specify what day your subscriber will receive the message.  This is numerical, based on how many days have transpired since they subscribed.  For example, day zero would be the actual day someone subscribed.  This email should deliver the lead magnet (if not from the thank you page) and set the tone for the messages you will be sending.  You can now set up the messages you will send on day 1,2,3 and so on.

Choosing your providers:  You can choose an autoreponder and lead capture page provider, or you can choose a tool suite where they are both integrated.

Choosing different providers gives you more flexibility.  Some providers may have unique features, mostly of interest to experienced marketers.  If you choose different providers, you need to make sure the autoresponder can generate form code that will connect with the landing page provider.  This information is usually very visible on the providers home page.  This is where the tool suite has its advantage, because integration is assured.

You will need to use this provider for several years, so do your research.  The main reason is because you will not be able to automatically move your subscribers from one provider to another.  The providers are having to enforce legislation such as the CAN-SPAM act of 2003.They have resources to know if someone actually subscribed to your list, while another provider you wanted to move to would not be able to access this information.

Single or double opt in?  Single opt in allows someone to put in their email address and they are added to your list immediately.  Double opt in will send an email to the (potential) subscriber asking him or her to verify they want to subscribe.  A verification link must be activated before someone is added to your list.  Single opt in makes the subscribing process quicker, while double opt in may decrease SPAM complaints in some circumstances.

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I recommend that you select your provider(s) and start setting up lead capture pages and an email series as soon as possible.  Set up a few ‘extra’ email addresses and use these to subscribe to your own campaigns.  This will allow you to see the process from the perspective of the subscriber, and assure everything is connected properly.

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