To make your e-mail marketing programs more effective, you should measure their performance by tracking the metrics that matter. One of the advantages of e-mail marketing is that you can measure your results when sending HTML-based e-mails. This is the case whether you have an in-house e-mail marketing system, use a third-party e-mail marketing service, or place e-newsletter advertisements.

The following are the metrics that matter, along with tips for improving your results.

Open Rate
The open rate is the percentage of e-mail recipients who open your e-mail. To improve open rates, pay attention to the “sent from” address as well as subject line. If recipients don’t recognize who the e-mail is from, are not compelled by the subject line, or are tired of getting e-mails from you, your open rates will suffer. Open rates are often reported as being lower than they actually are because e-mail clients who block images will not be recorded as an e-mail open, even if they read the e-mail.

Click Rate
The click rate is the percentage of recipients who click on any link in your e-mail. The click rate is one of the most important metrics, because it is a measure of the quality of your e-mail message and content. A recipient will click when you tell or offer them something of interest. If your click rate is low, you need to work on your message and content. Most e-mail statistics packages will report a click rate for every link in your e-mail, so you can see exactly what interests your recipients.

Time of Day/Day of Week
Most e-mail marketers discover that certain days and times are better than others for sending marketing e-mails. The idea is to track open and click rates across different days and times, and zero in on those that perform best for you.

If recipients are unsubscribing, it may mean that they have lost interest in your e-mails, you are no longer relevant to them, or you have an e-mail frequency issue: either you are e-mailing too often or they haven’t heard from you in so long they don’t remember you.

Deciding what is an appropriate unsubscribe rate for your email campaigns can be accurately determined by looking at a multitude of email marketing metrics. contributor, Karen Talavera of Synchronicity Marketing, includes a helpful email campaign ROI calculation worksheet (Excel) within her two part article named Measuring What Matters in Email Marketing.

Hard Bounces
Hard bounces represent the percentage of e-mails that are not deliverable and are immediately rejected by the recipient’s e-mail server. The most common reason is an e-mail address that doesn’t exist. A high bounce rate typically means your list needs cleaning up.

There could also be issues with an ISP, so it’s wise to track bounces across ISPs. If you are working with a reputable e-mail service provider, they should have relationships with the major ISPs and can help troubleshoot problems. If you use your own e-mail system, you will need to maintain relationships with ISPs and investigate any issues with them directly.

Conversion Rate
The conversion rate is not specific to the e-mail itself, but rather to what the e-mail recipient does after clicking a link in your e-mail and being re-directed to your Web site landing page. The conversion rate is the percentage of recipients who complete your call-to-action, such as downloading a white paper, registering for an online event, watching a video, or other action.

Conversion rate can be measured by the number of forms filled out on your Web site, the number of downloads or views, etc. It may be the most important metric of all, because it gets back to the original purpose of sending out the e-mail.

The overall effectiveness of your e-mail will impact conversion rates, but especially the value and relevancy of the offer or call-to-action. Weak or irrelevant offers will result in low conversion rates.


  1. Due to the economy we lost our Marketing Manager and the Sales Department needs to pick-up some of the responsibilities. This article helps to identify what we need to look for to justify and improve email marketing campaigns.

    We use a third party source that I’m sure has these metrics we just need to ask for them.

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