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The Most Important Key Figures in Email Marketing: How to Measure Success

23. Jul 2021 07:00 | Boosting Traffic Rate

Email marketing is an effective tool for building a connection with shop customers and getting them to visit your shop again. But how do you know that your email marketing is successful? In this blog article we tell you which key figures are decisive in email marketing and how you can use them to monitor the achievement of your goals and measure your success.


In this blog article, we will cover the following topics:

What are key figures and why are they important?

What goals can you pursue with email marketing?

Which key figures should you keep an eye on?
Delivery rate: Do your emails arrive?
Open rate: Are your emails being opened?
Click-through rate: Do your recipients interact with the email content?
Conversion rate: Did the desired target action occur?
Further key figures for successful email marketing

Conclusion: Know key figures, measure target achievement and increase email marketing success


What are key figures and why are they important?

Key figures or KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are used to show the performance of certain measures – e.g. the performance of email marketing. They are important for tracking and evaluating measures. Based on this, you can derive and implement optimisation possibilities. It is important that the figures are interpreted correctly so that you can draw the right conclusions.

Overall, the key figures help you to recognise whether the goals you have set are being achieved. They give you an insight into which contents are interesting for your recipients and where there may still be weak points. From this you can gain valuable insights to make future newsletters and emailings even more effective.

Since there are many success criteria for your emails, you should consider in advance what goal you want to achieve with your email marketing. Then you can determine which key figures you should keep an eye on depending on the defined goal in order to recognise developments. However, you should know some basic email marketing key figures in any case. We have compiled these for you in this article.

What goals can you pursue with email marketing?

The goal you want to achieve with email marketing can be very different. For example, you can measure the increase in traffic based on the number of sessions on your website or in your online shop, determine the number of products or services sold or the strengthening of customer loyalty based on the repurchase rate.

But apart from your overall goal, you should always keep the following basic goals in mind and optimise your email marketing accordingly:

  • The email should first arrive.
  • Then your email should be opened.
  • Then your recipients should interact with the email content.
  • In the best case, a specific target action will finally take place.

For each of these goals, you can use certain key figures with which you can measure success.

Which key figures should you keep an eye on?

In order to monitor the achievement of the four objectives of your email marketing, the following key figures are important:

Delivery rate: Do your emails arrive?

The delivery rate indicates the percentage of sent emails that successfully reach your recipients. This describes the first hurdle – that your sent emails actually end up in your customers’ inboxes. This email marketing metric should be in the 95-100% range, according to Mailjet.¹

To learn how to optimise your delivery rate, read Sendinblue’s guest post.

Open rate: Are your emails being opened?

If the email was successfully delivered, the next hurdle is that the email is also opened. The open rate describes the proportion of delivered emails that were opened at least once. A distinction can be made between one-time opens (unique open rate) and multiple opens (total open rate). While the unique open rate only counts one opening per recipient, the total open rate includes all openings of the email (including multiple openings by individual recipients).

Since you can use this metric to find out whether your recipients open your email or whether it ends up in the trash without being seen, you gain valuable information about whether your content is of interest and whether the subject line was chosen in an appealing way.

According to OMT, the open rate should be between 20 and 25%.² The value can depend on various factors, such as the industry, the subject line, the sender’s address, the sending time or the sending frequency.

The image shows an example of the evaluation of the email marketing metric of open rate compared to average values and those of similar users.
Example of the evaluation of the opening rate compared to average values and those of similar users (Source: Screenshot Mailchimp)

To optimise the open rate, you can start at these points. For example, choose an appealing subject line that attracts attention. Many recipients decide whether or not to open the email based on the subject line. Address your recipients directly by name in the subject line or formulate questions that arouse curiosity. Puns or emojis can also attract attention. Be careful to avoid spam-heavy words or characters, such as “free”, “limited offer” or “you’ve won”. You can find many more email spam words in this blog article from HubSpot.

The design of the pre-header (preview text of the email in the form of a short description) can also influence the open rate. You should also design it in an appealing way and motivate your recipients with an inviting call-to-action to read on and thus open the email.

The image shows an example of a newsletter subject and pre-header.
Subject and pre-header of a newsletter as an example (Source: Screenshot Mailchimp)

By choosing a trustworthy sender address and not using a noreply address, you can also increase your open rate.

Furthermore, the time of sending can play a decisive role. Here you can follow best practices or simply test on your own which sending time has the best effect on your recipients. Various email sending tools can also calculate the sending time automatically.

Read more about optimising the open rate in the guest article by our partner artegic.

Click-through rate: Do your recipients interact with the email content?

The click-through rate describes the number of recipients who clicked on one or more links in your email after opening it. This key figure helps you to determine the performance of individual emails and provides insights into how many recipients have interacted with your content. This in turn shows whether your content is interesting for your readers and whether your customer approach is convincing. If the click-through rate is between 3% and 7%, it is within the normal range according to Mailjet.³

Here, either all clicks or each recipient can be taken into account only once. In the second case, we speak of the unique click rate.

The image shows an example of the evaluation of the email marketing metric of click-through rate compared to average values and those of similar users.
Example of the evaluation of the click rate compared to average values and those of similar users (Source: Screenshot Mailchimp)

To increase the click-through rate, you can, for example, send personalised emails that contain relevant content based on the interest of the respective user. Read more about this in the blog article What you should know about email personalisation for online shops.

You can also address your readers personally by name. The use of stroytelling can also lead to higher click-through rates by creating emotion and trust. To get your recipients to interact with the content, the presentation of links and CTAs is also key. Eloquent CTAs with clear calls to action and colour-coded links or buttons can also increase click-through rates. Make it clear to your recipients where they should click and what they can expect behind the link. In addition, the mobile view is also very important and should not be neglected.

Do you have any other tips on how to increase the click-through rate in email marketing? Feel free to share them with us!

In various email sending tools, you can view the key figures directly in the form of reports and receive detailed evaluations of your sent emails. If you would also like to know how the individual key figures are calculated, you can find the formulas for calculating some key figures as well as calculation examples in an article by Christoph Hemmann on omt.de.

Conversion rate: Did the desired target action occur?

The email marketing metric of conversion rate goes one step further. Here, it is about the recipients who clicked on a link and then carried out a specific (desired) target action. These can be very different actions, such as filling out a form, registering for an event, subscribing to a newsletter, downloading information material or purchasing a product. To measure conversions, tracking URLs for the email links, such as the UTM parameters of Google Analytics, help. This allows you to track which email has achieved how many conversions.

Since the target action or the recipient’s action takes place on the website or in the online shop, it is important to consider the influencing factors there. For example, the page structure, the registration or download process or the usability can be decisive for a conversion.

Further key figures for successful email marketing

In addition to the presented key figures, there are many other email marketing key figures that are worth keeping an eye on. We would like to briefly outline some of them below.

  • Bounce rate: The bounce rate represents the percentage of sent emails that were not successfully delivered and is thus the counterpart to the delivery rate. You can distinguish between soft and hard bounces. Soft bounces are temporary problems with a valid email address, such as a full mailbox or a temporarily unavailable server. Hard bounces, on the other hand, mean that the email address cannot be reached permanently, as is the case, for example, with invalid, deactivated or non-existent email addresses.
  • Unsubscribe rate: This indicator includes the percentage of recipients who click on the unsubscribe link in the opened email and thus decide not to receive further emails from you. Unsubscribes are quite normal and can have different reasons. It is possible that the recipient’s inbox is full, their needs or interests have changed, the frequency is too high, the design is unattractive or the recipient has too little time to deal with your emails. It is important to note that, for legal reasons, your email must always contain an unsubscribe option. In order to find out the reason for unsubscribing, you can provide a questionnaire that the “unsubscribers” can fill out on a voluntary basis. You can use the insights gained from this to take appropriate optimisation measures.
  • List growth rate: This contrasts with the key figure of list growth – the rate at which your email list grows. For an increased reach and to increase your target group, you should try to boost the list growth.
  • Spam rate: You should also keep an eye on the spam rate. It indicates the number of recipients who have marked your emails as spam or the number of emails that have been classified as spam. A high spam rate can lead to future emails from the same sender being classified as spam and sorted out. It is therefore an important indicator and you should avoid sending future emails to the spam folder. Instead, ensure that your emails successfully pass spam filters by avoiding spam-heavy words and characters, for example.
  • Forward rate: The forward rate plays an important role in generating new contacts. It represents the percentage of recipients who clicked on a social media share button or forwarded your email.

Note: The listed key figures are only an excerpt of important KPIs. Of course, there are other metrics that can tell you about the success of your email marketing.

Which key figures do you look at when you evaluate your email marketing? Tell us about them in the comments!

Conclusion: Know key figures, measure target achievement and increase email marketing success

As with every marketing activity, you should also know and understand the most important key figures in email marketing and always keep an eye on them. If you draw the right conclusions, you can take appropriate optimisation measures. It is important to note that depending on the defined goal, different key figures may be more relevant than others. However, a basic understanding of the basic key figures presented in this article is helpful in any case and can already help you to increase your email marketing success in the long term.

Sources: ¹ Mailjet, ² OMT, ³ Mailjet

More information about personalised email >>

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Sarah Birk

Online Marketing Manager - Content & SEO

Sarah works as Online Marketing Manager - Content & SEO at epoq and is responsible for the content area. Her field of activity ranges from content planning and conception to analysis and optimisation of the various content formats, taking into account important SEO aspects.

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