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Email marketing: Which metrics matter (and which don’t)

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While it may feel like social media and digital advertising get all the hype these days, the tried-and-true email campaign is still an incredibly effective tool for marketing. In fact, not a day goes by where our team isn’t working on an email marketing campaign. That’s because 61% of B2B buyers say they prefer to make first contact with a supplier by email, and 59% of marketers say it’s their biggest source of ROI.

That’s a lot of power for one little email! However, in order to take advantage of all that email marketing has to offer your business and your customers (and prospects), you need to be able to see the results of your efforts and use those insights to fine tune your strategy. Otherwise, you’ll just be blowing up inboxes everywhere without a sense of whether your tactics and content are actually helping you achieve your goals.

So, let’s dive into the key metrics used for email marketing. More importantly, though, let’s see which of these commonly used metrics are worth putting your time and energy into, and which ones aren’t (it might surprise you!).

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Email marketing analytics

7 Marketing Metrics – what they are and why they do (or don’t) matter

  1. Clickthrough Rate (CTR) – If you share links to content in your emails (and you should), the CTR will give you the number of times readers engaged with your content by clicking on it. Thus, this will be one of your most important indicators of whether the content you’re providing is effective at influencing the behavior you want your readers to exhibit.

While there are plenty of factors that can impact your CTR (like company size, industry, the number of emails you’re sending per month, and whether you’re a B2B or B2C business), they tend to hover around 2.6%.

Tip: Include clickable elements throughout your email, especially towards the top, so there’s always something to engage with above the fold!

  1. Conversion Rate – If your goal is to generate leads, your conversion rate is likely going to be your most important metric to track. After a recipient has clicked through on an element in your email, you’ll want to track how many of them actually took the desired action (that’s the conversion).

Calculate this by dividing the number of people who completed the desired action by the number of emails delivered, and then convert it into a percentage.

  1. Bounce Rate – Internet service providers (ISPs) use this to determine if an email sender is spam, so it’s an important metric to monitor. If you notice your hard bounce rate is over 2%, then you’ll want to make sure to remove those addresses from your email list.

  2. Sharing/Forwarding Rate – If you want to be generating new contacts, make sure to track these rates to see what type of content your email recipients are finding more share-worthy. Include a “share this” (often to social media) or “forward to a friend” (via email) button in your emails and track the number of recipients who click on it.

  3. Email open rate trackingOpen Rate – This is where things get weird. Many marketers fixate on open rates, often obsessing over how to optimize their subject lines and preview messaging. But this is valuable time wasted, for two reasons:

    1. Open rates are misleading. You’re probably underreporting your open rates without even knowing it. That’s because in order for your email to be counted as “opened,” the recipient has to have also received any images embedded in the message. This means any users that have image-blocking enabled (and many do, especially if you’re engaged in B2B marketing), then they won’t be counted in your open rates even if they do open your email.

    2. Apple’s iOS 15 privacy features are changing. While full details have yet to be confirmed, Apple says their new email privacy features will allow email users to “stop senders from using invisible pixels to collection information” about them. That includes tracking whether they open your email.

Given how many people use Apple mail (and that other email providers like Google and Microsoft could soon follow suit), it’s likely that a good chunk of your email recipients will become untraceable when these features are rolled out, making open rates even less meaningful than ever.

Given these two points, we recommend spending more time optimizing for conversion and click through than open rates.

  1. Unsubscribe Rate – This one’s sort of on par with open rates, as it can be misleading. Think about your own email habits: do you take the time to unsubscribe from emails you no longer want to receive, or do you just delete them (unopened) from your inbox? Most people just do the latter. So, while it’s good to track your unsubscribe rate over time, it’s not necessary to stress over it from one email to the next.

  2. Traffic to your site – With a tool like HubSpot, you can see how much traffic came to your website from email. This can help you determine which pieces of content are successful in driving this traffic (which is especially important if you’re trying to get them to make a direct purchase) and adjust your content offerings accordingly.

What next?

If you’re feeling like you need a little help with your email marketing, you’re not alone. Half of B2B marketers outsource at least one content marketing activity, and 84% of those who do outsource content creation.

That’s why we’re here! We do it all – from email campaign strategy, to content creation, to all the nitty gritty of campaign tracking (check out all our services here). If you’re ready to call in some extra assistance, be sure to drop us a line. As HubSpot partners, we can even help you get set up with a new CRM to make tracking critical marketing metrics all the easier. Just say the word!