One of the best parts of being an email marketer is the instant gratification of seeing your results pour in soon after an email deploys. We sit and click refresh, watching our opens and clicks numbers inch upward.

But are opens & clicks all you’re watching? Sure, open rate can signify a successful subject line (along with a permission-based list and historically great content on a regular basis). Click through rates are excellent for measuring engagement with a specific item, article or topic. But better yet is the click-to-open ratio. Of those that opened, how many did your beautiful email convert to click through? One step further: how many widgets did your email sell? How many email subscribers said “no, thanks” and opted out?

Here are the 5 email marketing metrics you should be watching (in addition to opens & clicks):

1. Click-to-Open Rate (CTOR) or Click-to-View rate — Click through rate, as a metric, can actually be a little misleading. Click-through rate can vary simply because your open rate is down (or up), and be a byproduct of your subject line (or timing, etc.), more than your topics, layout or calls to action. A better metric to watch is your click-to-open rate, or how many of your openers clicked. The industry average CTOR is around 15%. How does yours compare?

Clicks to Views

2. Conversions — Clicks are great and can say a lot about how hard your email is working for you. But at the end of the day, most email campaigns draw a line back to revenue. For retail companies, especially eCommerce, analytics should be able to tell exactly how much revenue every individual email brought in. For business services, you can use your customer database management tools to show when a lead has received email campaigns to show that (inevitably) leads who receive your email campaign close at a higher rate or faster than those who didn’t. You may also consider a conversion a simple nudge forward in the sales cycle, like when a prospect fills out a lead form to download your most recent report.

Airmail Revenue

3. Bounce Rate — A standby, the bounce rate reported by most email service providers is a mingle of hard bounces — addresses that don’t exist — and soft bounces, like out of office replies, inbox full, and more. Your hard bounce rate should stay below 1% if you’re sending regularly. You may see a spike in hard bounces if your subscribers have been on your list for a while, or you import a list from an offline source like in-store signups or trade show promotions. You’re especially likely to see a higher hard bounce rate if you’re using hand-written forms or asking store cashiers to type in emails as part of their (usually rushed) checkout process. A high bounce rate can make you look like a spammer is a fast way to get tipped into the Spam folder. Keep an eye on your bounce rates to watch for potential issues.

4. Domain-Level Reports — In addition to overall bounce rates above, you’ll want to keep an eye on your metrics broken down by domain. AOL, for example, will bounce 100% of your email if they think you’re spam. If you see those bounces, you can work with your email provider to get off their block list and hopefully headed back to the inbox. You should also be watching your open rates by domain. If your email garners a 25% open rate, but Gmail is showing only 2% opened, or worse, 0%… You most likely didn’t ever make it to the inbox at Gmail. They don’t send a bounce to tell you when they think you’re spam, they just don’t deliver you and your open rates will show it. (Again, this means a call to your email service provider for help with deliverability. emfluence clients can call or email us, any time!)

AOL zeroes deliverability problem

5. Unsubscribe and Complaint Rates — When your unsubscribe rates are over 1%, your audience is telling you that you’re not interesting. If they complain or use the “this is Spam” button, they’re telling others that you’re not interesting. The legal definition of spam is continuing to send email to someone who has unsubscribed. The customer’s definition is either “I didn’t sign up for this!” or “I don’t want this.” Even if they did originally sign up for, if you’re irrelevant, you’re in danger of the spam button. Your complaint rates should stay below 0.1% if you’re truly asking people’s permission to email them and if you’re delivering on the expectations you set when they signed up. High unsubscribe and complaint rates can also give you a one-way ticket to the spam folder… Not just for the complainer, but for everybody.

YRC Mobile Open Rate 2014Bonus: 6th email marketing metric you should be watching: Your own Mobile Open Rates! At the end of 2013, marketers declared mobile opens finally overtook the majority of email opens. But for many of our business-to-business marketers, they still see 80% of their engagement from a desktop computer. Be careful not to invest time in a mobile-first or highly mobile-responsive email design if it simply can’t pay you back in return on investment. Know your own mobile open rates, which should be a report in your email marketing platform.

Some of these metrics help you win gold and some of them simply keep you in the game. The truth is there are dozens more metrics you have access to, but prioritize these 5 as your signifiers when something is working… or not.

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