What does email marketing success look like and how do you measure it?

Nick Crawford
Head of Strategy
Published:
November 28, 2023

There’s no arguing that email marketing is one of the most successful marketing channels available. However, the true measure of email marketing success lies in the ability to achieve your unique goals. Aligning your marketing objectives with those of the wider business.

Yes, metrics such as deliverability and open rates offer insight into initial engagement, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg.

In this blog post, we will cover the steps you can take to sift through the wealth of data and results to find what email marketing success truly looks like for your business, and how you can measure it effectively.

Identifying the objectives of your email marketing campaign

Email marketing success can look dramatically different from business to business. So, it’s essential to tailor your objectives, goals, KPIs, and metrics to your organisation.

Success for any department or individual should always be aligned with wider business objectives and then filtered down. This process can be split into three steps:

Business objectives

Identify what the high-level objectives of the wider business are, and the time frame tied to these. These may be broad strategic areas such as increasing sales or overall profitability.

Team or departmental objectives

By setting team objectives you can bridge the gap between high-level business objectives and operations. For instance, retention, reach, or revenue.

Personal targets

Personal targets identify what is expected of individual team members to reach those team-level objectives. These will likely vary based on the individual’s role in the business.

Setting clear and measurable goals

Once you have identified your objectives, it’s important to translate these into clear and measurable goals to hit, and therefore ensure objectives are met.

We recommend following the SMART goals framework, which helps to establish goals that are clear, motivating, and achievable. 

When following this framework, ensure goals meet all of the following criteria:

  • Specific – Goals are precise, leaving no room for misinterpretation
  • Measurable – Goals have quantifiable criteria which allow for progress tracking
  • Achievable – Goals are realistic given resource, budget, and time constraints
  • Relevant – Goals align with the wider business objectives and are meaningful
  • Time-bound – Goals have a specific timeframe or deadline to hit

Key metrics to measure success

Now you’ve identified your business objectives and filtered these down into clear and measurable goals for your departments and team members, it’s time to dig into specific metrics to help you measure your success.

Again, determining the best email marketing metrics is personal to each business. That being said, there are a range of metrics that can be applied to a variety of email marketing goals that go beyond open and clicks.

Email marketing ROI

There’s no point in sending out email campaigns without understanding the return on investment they are generating.

This can be measured via the following formula:

(sales growth – email marketing investment) / marketing investment = ROI

Sales revenue

A favourite metric for many businesses is identifying how much revenue your email marketing campaigns are actually generating for the business.

Customer acquisition costs (CAC)

Is it cheaper for your business to retain customers than to acquire new ones? Identify how much is it costing the business to acquire a new customer through email marketing to help answer this question.

Customer lifetime value (CLV)

Similarly, identify the total value an email marketing-generated customer is expected to bring to your business throughout their entire relationship with your business.

This can be determined through the following formula:

(average purchase value) x (average purchase frequency) x (customer lifespan)

Conversion rate

Explore how your customers behave post-email by measuring the percentage of recipients that make a desired action (such as a sale or form completion) after receiving your email.

The following formula will help you estimate this metric:

(number of conversions / total emails delivered) x 100

Average order value

Delve further into recipients’ purchasing behaviour by establishing how much your email recipients spend.

This can be established through the following formula:

(total revenue from email) / (total number of sales through email)

Setting benchmarks

For any marketing or email team, targets are essential to ensure ongoing business growth. However, determining those targets can be easier said than done.

That’s where benchmarking comes in.

Benchmarking based on past results

By analysing past data and results, businesses can gain invaluable insights into the previous effectiveness of their campaigns and potential factors contributing to these results. This forms an excellent foundation for establishing benchmarks.

Even basic metrics such as open and click-through rates can serve as fundamental benchmarks. Moreover, when these metrics are tracked over time, they can offer trends that lend themselves to deeper analysis and further benchmarking.

Benchmarking based on industry standards

If you don’t have access or the prior activity to benchmark based on past results, a good place to begin is with industry-standard benchmarks. Fortunately, there is a wealth of them offered online by marketing publications and email providers, for instance from Smart Insights.

By comparing key metrics businesses can assess how their email campaigns compare against their peers and competitors. This process not only provides a clear picture of the competitive landscape but also identifies areas where improvements could be made.

It’s important to remember that industries can evolve, fast. So be sure to keep a close on benchmarks to remain competitive and set realistic expectations.

Measurement and reporting tools

Of course, once you have your measurement strategy worked out, you’ll need the right tools to help you dig into data and make sense of your results.

Email marketing platforms

The perfect place to start is with your email marketing platform. This will provide you with a range of metrics from basic opens and clicks, through to heatmaps and deliverability rates.

Even better, you can use reporting tools to measure and compare results from different campaigns to help identify trends or set benchmarks.

Google Analytics

When it comes to measuring success, what happens after a recipient opens and clicks an email can be even more important.

Google Analytics is the ideal tool to help you begin exploring email recipients’ behaviour. Identifying website traffic that emails are generating, how engaged these website visitors are, or whether they are simply bouncing from your landing pages.

CRM (customer relationship management) systems

Your CRM system is the key to delving even further into email recipients’ behaviour.

Here you can explore how your emails are influencing buying behaviour, such as how frequently these buyers purchase, and how much they spend. This information is essential to measuring the high-level success of your email campaigns, such as revenue, ROI, and customer lifetime value.

Next steps

We know that email data and results can be overwhelming to make sense of. So, if you’re looking for support in not only ensuring you are measuring the right metrics but also achieving email marketing success specific to your business, then get in touch.

Our experienced team can help access the right data, measure the right metrics, and hit the right targets. Ensuring you achieve success that aligns with objectives that matter.