Renata Gajoch
Renata Gajoch 2 June 2017

The Most Important Email Marketing Metrics

Email marketing is highly conducive to fostering a relationship with customers enabling you to achieve business goals. It can deliver up to an astounding 30:1 ROI. Do you know how to measure your email marketing success? Let’s take a look at the most important email marketing metrics that you should track.

How you should measure your campaign success?

Open rate, Click-through Rate and deliverability - the majority of marketers use these three metrics to measure their campaigns success.

Open Rate (OR)

Open Rate is one of the most misleading metric in email marketing. Email Service Providers calculate OR by dividing the number of tracked opens by your non-bounce total. But remember that your email isn’t counted as opened until:

  • the recipient enables the images in your email to display, 
  • the recipient clicks a link in the email.

How to interpret OR:

If the Open Rate in your campaigns is around 10-15%, you can easily interpret that the average OR of your campaigns is around 13%

To put it more simply, it means that only 13% of your subscribers open your emails, right? This number doesn’t entice you to work harder, does it?

Actually it’s not as simple as it seems. If we add a time factor to our analysis (e.g. one month) and count how many unique message openings we have, it could turn out that the average OR increases to 30%, allowing us to take a fresh look at this metric.

Don’t treat low OR as a proof that email marketing doesn’t work for you. Keep sending campaigns and check your subscribers response. Among the best tips on how to improve your OR I can recommend these three:

1. Personalize your subject line

Use data you collect on subscribers to tailor your message. Based on the data you can segment your list and offer individual subscribers a value. 39% of marketers who began using segmentation saw a significant rise in their Open Rates according to the Lyris Annual Email Optimizer Report.

How does it work in practice? If you know someone’s last purchase was 3 months ago, try email subject line: “Erica, we haven’t seen you in 3 months - take a look what’s new!”

2. Keep it short

Messages with shorter subject lines usually get clicked more than those with longer subject lines.

3. Have an easily recognizable sender name

Keep your email more human-like and personal. Let your subscribers know who is sending them a message. Avoid using “[email protected]” as the sender address, use real person as a sender.

Don’t treat low OR as a proof that email marketing doesn’t work for you. Keep sending campaigns and check your subscribers response. Among the best tips on how to improve your OR I can recommend these three:

Click Through Rate (CTR)

CTR is the number of unique subscribers who clicked on one or more links in your message expressed as a percentage of total tracked opens.

This metric is easier to track than OR because you can see the relationship between the number of unique clicks on one link in your message and the total number of messages delivered in a particular campaign.

A high CTR means that your offer was well prepared, addressed the needs of individual customers and was sent at the right time. To improve your CTR, segment your database.

Divide subscribers into groups based on common interests or needs and on that basis create messages tailored for them.

Remember to test your email every time before you click send.

Pro Tip 

Subscribers usually click on one link so don’t try to enhance the number of clicks by adding way too many links. It’s better to include just one or two and don’t distract subscriber.

Deliverability and database hygiene

Deliverability is influenced by many factors, among others: your reputation as a sender. Email clients and spam filters monitor your recipient’s reaction to your email messages and draw conclusions based on their behaviour.

Actually, email providers are faced with the tough job of protecting their users by blocking spam while allowing legitimate permission-based emails that subscribers want to receive through.

Return Path’s most recent Deliverability Benchmark report, shows that in Europe, 83% of legitimate marketing emails reach inboxes. That still means that one out of every six emails is not getting delivered. Given that email is such a phenomenal revenue driver, this represents a significant opportunity cost.

Get familiar with the myths and facts about email deliverability in this article by Return Path.

Pro Tip

Be aware of any differences between what you promise to send and what you actually offer your subscribers. If twenty subscribers out of a thousand label your message as spam, it will put service providers on alert and it’s likely that your future campaigns will be directed to spam folders.

That’s why it is so important to take care of your database and monitor how many soft and hard bounces you have. You shouldn’t have more than about a 10% bounce rate in order to keep your trusted sender reputation intact.


This metrics also indicate the success of your email marketing.

UTOR (unsubscribe to open rate) tells you how many subscribers decided that your content is not what they want or were expecting and unsubscribed from your mailing list.

Calculating your UTOR is as simple as comparing the number of tracked opens of a particular campaign with the number of addresses that removed themselves from your mailing list.

It’s very important to keep an eye on this metric since a high UTOR could have lasting consequences on your newsletter base.

Click to Open Rate

CTOR is the percentage of subscribers that opened your email and clicked on links inside it. The higher it is, the better. It means that recipients found your content interesting and useful and consistent with what you referred to in your subject line. A low CTOR is a signal that promises made in your subject line were not delivered.

So to keep it simple and remember this rule: keep your CTOR high and your UTOR low.

Email Marketing RoI

74% companies asked by Econsultancy consider email to be the most effective channel for delivering high ROI (return on investment). There is a lot of marketing cake to fight for.


How to calculate ROI

ROI is expressed as the relationship between invested resources and the return they bring.


RoI is crucial for your business. The metric tells you if your email marketing is worth the money and time you spend on it.

To get the best RoI possible remember to

  •  use a quality email list and keep it well maintained,
  •  segment your mailing list and personalise messages,
  •  use marketing automation like for ex. dynamic content, autoresponders, transactional mails,
  • test campaigns before you send them,
  • analyse reports and learn more about how your subscribers react to your messages.


The feedback you get from campaign metrics tells you when things are working well and when they need to be changed. Don’t overlook the opportunity to use this information to fine tune your message and strategy to get the best results!

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