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How To Measure & Report Email Marketing Success

May 23 - 2024

Email Marketing Strategy 5 min read

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What is the value of email marketing? Is it solely about having customers buy your products or enquire about your services? Or are there other valuable results you’re missing by not measuring the right things? In this guide to measuring email marketing success, we aim to find out… 

When it comes to return on investment, very few marketing channels match the potential offered by email. Email campaigns allow you to reach your target audience in one of the most direct ways possible, serving them the exact content you want them to see and encouraging them to take valuable actions like buying a product or enquiring about your service. 

Unfortunately, the potential behind email marketing is easily masked by misleading metrics and confusing reporting. When a team lacks insight into what email marketing success can look like, they will invariably make mistakes in deciding how to measure that success. 

To get valuable results from your campaigns, you need to identify the measurable goals that lead to those results. If your ultimate goal is to increase revenue, then you need to understand which parts of your email marketing campaign contribute to that goal. 

Though email software and tools often provide metrics you can use for reporting, they might not align with your goals. Even if they do, simply measuring them each month and reporting them to your stakeholders will not lead to any kind of actionable insight. 

We’re going to help you understand how to measure email marketing success in a way that suits your business goals AND allows you to harness those measurements to improve your overall campaign strategy.

Set the right frequency

First, you need to establish a frequency for measuring your campaign performance. You can choose to measure campaign-by-campaign, weekly, or monthly, and we’d generally recommend the latter two options. 

Though having campaign-by-campaign metrics available is useful for specific insight, getting a broader view across a week or month helps smooth out peaks and troughs and creates more consistent averages for long-term tracking and spotting trends or patterns. Set a frequency that makes sense for your business, campaign goals and the working habits of your team. 

Start at the beginning

Before we delve into open rates, click-throughs, conversions, and other metrics, let’s take a step back. To build a foundation for meaningful measurements, we need to define your commercial goals and how your email activity contributes to them. 

Begin by asking yourself the following questions

What are your commercial goals? 

Every business has commercial goals – many of which ultimately boil down to making money. Though increasing revenue is a perfectly valid target, we’d advise breaking it down into more focused goal areas so you can align your email activity. The types of goals we’re talking about include:

  • Building brand awareness and customer interest
  • Driving increased visitors to your website or other platforms
  • Creating sales leads or enquiries
  • Selling products/services directly 
  • Improving customer retention and lifetime value
  • Improving brand reputation

All the above can lead to increased revenue, but they create more nuanced tracking opportunities. 

What actions do you want users to take? 

When sending email campaigns, what are you looking for audiences to do? These actions should be directly tied to the goals we’ve listed above. 

If you want to improve brand awareness, you may only want audiences to open and read your newsletter. More commonly, you’ll want a customer to take some action–whether visiting your site to learn more or making a purchase directly from your email. 

The intended goal may vary campaign by campaign, so it’s often worth creating segmented lists and specific measurements for each ‘type’ of action. For example, you may have a list for your informational newsletter and one for your sales-driven product promotion campaigns, each measuring specific metrics… 

What outcomes are most relevant to those actions?

Considering the two previous points, you can now identify the most important outcomes needed to generate your desired results. For example, if you want to build brand awareness with a newsletter and only want users to read it, you need to find measurements related to that. 

Which metrics can support your goals? 

There are many different metrics available to email marketing professionals, ranging from figures calculated by email software and specialist tools to data you can gather from your website’s analytics. 

Building a successful report means identifying the metrics most important to your business and the goals and actions outlined above. To make a choice, you’ll need to know a little about each popular metric and how it can relate to your campaign. 

 

Popular email marketing measurements and what you need to know about them

Delivery rate

Before we even dive into open rates, it’s important to understand your delivery rate. This is the number of emails that are successfully delivered. This is the figure you will use to understand open rates, and other engagement metrics, rather than your overall send volume. If you notice a drop in email delivery, you may have an issue with your data quality, and this will only have a detrimental effect on all other metrics. So, delivery rate is a vital base point from which you can calculate other figures– both open and click-through-rates should be calculated as a percentage of this figure, rather than the overall volume sent. 

Bounces/Bounce rate

Following on from delivery rate, bounce rate refers to the percentage of your emails that fail to be delivered - or ‘bounced’. This covers both ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ bounces. 

An email ‘bounces’ if the addressee’s server rejects it and returns it to you. ‘Soft’ bounces usually result from temporary problems, whereas ‘hard’ bounces indicate a permanent problem, such as a user’s email no longer existing or you being blocked by their ISP. 

Getting your bounce rates under control requires active list management to remove problematic email addresses. Bounces directly fuel your deliverability rate, and a sender that bounces too much will often encounter further problems because a recipient’s ISP will see them as spam. 

Open rates

The ‘open’ rate of an email tracks how many users ‘opened’ it, theoretically giving you an insight into whether your campaigns are appealing enough for people to take a look at them. Unfortunately, due to issues with how open rates are tracked, they can only ever be a supplementary metric and need to be measured against other, more tangible ones. See our guide to open rates to learn more. 

Deliverability rate

There is a subtle difference between delivery rate and deliverability. While delivery rate refers to the number of emails that are delivered, deliverability is the measurement of inbox placement. For example, an email is delivered even if it hits spam. But deliverability would break this down by looking at how many emails landed in spam vs. inbox. 

No matter what you do, some campaigns will fail to reach a user’s inbox. There are many reasons behind this, but it’s important to identify whether your messages are even reaching your audience. Specialist tools such as Validity allow you to monitor your overall deliverability rate, which looks at successful placement versus your campaigns either being moved to spam, blocked by email providers, or even deleted in a user’s inbox. 

Clicks

Clicks measure the number of users who click links in your emails. If you can reliably track incoming traffic, you can track this through your email software or via your own analytics. 

Click Through Rate (CTR)

Click Through Rate is arguably the strongest indicator of campaign success, as it measures the number of clicks from the email through to your website. This allows you to better understand campaign effectiveness because it demonstrates the ratio of users who open and engage with your content against those who open it but don’t take further action. 

This is typically calculated as a percentage of emails delivered. 

Click To Open Rate (CTOR)

Not to be confused with the above, Click To Open Rate measures the percentage of people who open an email with how many click through. So, while CTR is measured based on delivery, CTOR is based on opens. It’s a great measure of content engagement and layout approaches.

Unsubscribes

This measures the number of users who unsubscribe from your mailing list using the link in your email, or by logging into their account on your website. Sudden spikes in the number of users who unsubscribe may indicate an issue with a specific campaign, so it’s worth monitoring it. If you’re practising active list hygiene and tailoring your communications towards user needs, unsubscribes may be a good thing as they help ensure that only engaged users continue receiving your content. 

Complaints

While complaints are often lumped in with all unsubscribes, it’s worth measuring these separately as they are a good signal of the quality of your content and how it is being received by your readers. A complaint is when a user unsubscribes via the functionality of their email provider, e.g. Gmail allows users to unsubscribe from most marketing emails by clicking a small text link at the top of the email, next to the sender’s name and address.

Device-specific metrics

Due to the wide variations in how certain devices handle incoming emails and display content, identifying device-specific metrics provides valuable insight. Many email marketing tools offer tailored measurements for specific devices, such as mobile open and click rates, so it’s worth considering what devices your subscribers may use and what type of metrics any potential email platform tracks before investing in it. 

 

Non-email specific metrics 

The metrics we’ve just covered are email-specific, but you need to track other important figures to gauge overall performance. The email-specific metrics ‘feed’ into these, which are broader in scope. 

Conversions

To track a ‘conversion,’ you need to consider the end-point of your marketing journey. What do you want a customer to ‘do’ after they’ve read your email or visited your website? For some businesses, a conversion is simply completing a contact form or an email enquiry, while for others, it’s a product purchase. 

There are tools within email platforms that can monitor conversions made specifically from emails, but other forms of conversion can be tracked via your own website’s analytics. Once you know what a ‘conversion’ is for your brand, you can set up the appropriate tracking and begin monitoring it. 

Cost per acquisition/CPA

CPA, or cost per acquisition, is an estimated cost for each customer you add to your database. If, for example, you run a paid social media campaign encouraging sign-ups, you can track the cost of each new customer. Over time, this measurement, compared against email revenue, will help define whether your investment is worth it. 

Return on investment/ROI

ROI, or return on investment, is perhaps the most important metric in all reporting. It’s broadly a measure of how much money you’ve spent versus how much you’ve generated, which can be a challenge when trying to assess which marketing channels or activities were responsible for generating revenue. 

Considering email can boast an estimated ROI of up to 4,400%, you must devise a way to track it. Some forms of email campaign activity offer direct ROI, provided conversions represent actual revenue (for example, in a campaign that includes links to purchase products). However, there’s also an indirect ROI around email activity, which is far harder to track… 

Theoretically, a user might open your campaign and then close it, but later remember your offer/brand and return to your site on a different device to complete a purchase. The conversion happened because the user read your campaign, but no email platform can track such a complex journey. 

To track this less direct form of ROI, you’ll need to return to the classic formula:

ROI = (Total Gain - Total Spent)/Spent *100

To work this out, you need to be able to track (or estimate) the total revenue associated with your campaigns and how much you spent on them. Let’s take a look at an example to make this clearer:

An ecommerce company generated £20,000 in one month from email campaigns. During this period, they spent £4500 on email activity, which included software subscriptions, agency fees, and staffing costs. That would represent an ROI of 344% (£20,000 - £4500/£4500*100).

ROI is a complex topic that needs further discussion. Stay tuned to our blog for a deep dive into this metric, or take control of your reporting now with this existing guide to improving ROI. 

 

Results-driven reporting

Taking everything we’ve covered above, you’ve now got a better idea of what measures are available and how they impact campaign performance. Creating effective reports relies on defining commercial goals and then attributing the relevant measures. Doing so means you’ll have a reporting system that supports a narrative of progress towards those goals.

Of course, deciding which measurements to use is far from all you need to know about email reporting. In a future article, we’ll cover creating reports in more detail. 

In the meantime, you can always contact Jarrang to take your email reporting to the next level. With decades of experience in delivering email marketing campaign strategy and management to enterprise clients across the globe, we’ll help you build reporting systems that streamline workflows and wow stakeholders. 

Improve your email strategy now

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