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Understanding Email Marketing Analytics and Benchmarks

Jasmine LeBlanc 5/18/18 9:34 AM

One of the main components of successful email marketing is sending relevant content to your audience. So how do you know if your content is fulfilling your subscribers’ needs and wants? You have to take a look at your email marketing analytics to see how your emails performed. In this post, we’ll discuss the metrics you should focus on to see what’s working and what needs to be improved.

Lightbulb-Moment-Understanding-Email-Marketing-MetricsEmail Marketing Metrics

Digging into your analytics will help you hit the ground running with improving your email marketing strategy. The email marketing platform you use will calculate metrics to show you how your emails are performing. Let’s take a look at what these rates mean.

1. Open Rate

Here’s how it’s calculated:

(unique opens / total recipients) x 100

  • Open rate is the percentage of email recipients who opened your email.
  • Unique opens refer to the total number of individual subscribers who opened your email. So if one recipient goes back to open your email multiple times, it will only count as one unique open.
  • Total recipients are not how many recipients you sent an email to, it’s how many recipients received your email. To learn more about email deliverability, check out our post on email marketing best practices.

Open rate is important to watch because it can let you know the best time to send your email and what kind of subject lines entice your subscribers.

Note: Some marketers disregard open rates because emails won’t actually count as opened if your subscribers have disabled receiving images since trackers are invisible images.

That being said, if you’re going to compare 2 email open rates to each other, make sure they were sent to the same list. That will at least provide you with controlled variables and give you insight on how well your subject lines performed.

2. Click-Through Rate

Here’s how it’s calculated:

(unique clicks / total recipients) x 100

  • Click-through rate is the percentage of email recipients who clicked on a link in your email.
  • Unique clicks refer to the the total number of individual subscribers who clicked on the link in your email. If a recipient clicks on your link multiple times, it will only count as a unique click once.

This is perhaps the most important metric a marketer can track. It means that your call-to-action made a connection with your readers and they want to further engage with your content.

If you link to several blog posts in your email workflow and notice that a specific email experienced a high click-through rate, then you can assume that your audience liked that topic. In the future, you can send additional content around that same topic to stay relevant to your readers.

3. Click-to-Open Rate

Here’s how it’s calculated:

(unique clicks / unique opens) x 100

  • Click-to-open rate is the percentage of email recipients who opened and clicked on link in your email.

How does this differ from your open rate and click-through rate? Let’s take a look at an example:

Let’s say your email was delivered to 45 people and received 20 unique opens and 9 unique clicks. Here are your stats:

  • Open rate is 44%
  • Click-through rate is 20%
  • Click-to-open rate is 45%

That means that out of the 20 readers who opened it, 45% felt that your content was relevant enough to engage with it.

Since your emails can be sent to a different amount of people each time, calculating your click-to-open rate can help you see how well your email did after your recipient opened it.

4. Conversion Rate

Here’s how it's calculated:

(recipients who clicked and converted / total recipients) x 100

  • Conversion rate is the percentage of email recipients who clicked your email link and then completed the action you wanted them to take on your website.

By creating tracking URLs, you can distinguish the number of users who converted due to your email CTA from users who converted through other ways.

For example, if you were trying to convert your event attendees into blog subscribers, then you would see how many of your contacts clicked on your CTA and became subscribers. Your email’s conversion rate will show you how relevant your content is to converting your readers.

5. Bounce Rate

Here’s how it’s calculated:

(bounced emails / emails sent) x 100

  • Bounce rate is the percentage of emails that were unable to be delivered to your recipients’ inbox.
  • Emails sent represent the emails you intended to send, not how many were delivered.
  • Hard bounce means that the email address you attempted to send to is invalid.
  • Soft bounce means there was a fixable issue in delivering your email.

You should remove email addresses that hard bounced from your list because it negatively affects your reputation as an email sender. Most email marketing platforms remove them for you. But, before you remove them, double-check that you didn’t make any typos when entering their email. It could be something as simple as that to cause a hard bounce!

Soft bounces can occur if your recipient's inbox is too full or if there is an issue with their server. Your email may reach their inbox once the issue is resolved or you can try resending it at a later time.

How to Measure Your Email Marketing Success

After digesting all that information on metrics, I bet you’re wondering what qualifies as a successful rate. When you’re starting out, it’s good to find industry standards as a benchmark and measure your organization against them.

After you have been consistently sending out marketing emails you can start to compare your success to your own results.

So how do you find your industry standards?

Major email marketing platforms release annual lists of industry standards. Here are a few recent ones you can use to compare your rates to:


By keeping up with the performance of your email marketing campaigns, you’ll be providing your readers with relevant content which will drive their engagement with your organization. Once you start to see success with your emails, you shouldn’t set it and forget it. You still need to continuously optimize your emails to see success!