When it comes to your email marketing strategy and sending email campaigns to your contacts, there are a lot of metrics to look at. The email marketing metrics you should pay close attention to are:

  • Return on Investment (ROI)
  • Conversion rate
  • Click Through Rate (CTR)
  • Unsubscribes
  • Unopens

A metric that is missing from this list that everyone focuses on is opens. Although opens are important, in that it tells us who had opened this email that we just sent, but that’s essentially all that it tells us. It doesn’t necessarily tell us if the campaign has been successful. It really just tells us who opened the email. The metrics that we’ll talk about have a different meaning than the opens. When you analyze these metrics they will not just give us more information, but will give us an idea of what to do next.

Return on Investment

Many ESPs do not report ROI, but it is one important metric that should be looked at. Time and time again, the channel that proves to be the highest return for every dollar invested remains to be email marketing. In Litmus’ State of Email Report, the ROI for email marketing in 2015 is 38-1. However, just having a high ROI doesn’t mean you are successful in your email campaign.

What you want to see in your ROI Metric is that return growing or increasing from campaign to campaign. If you invest the same number, and your return is increasing, that is when you know you have a very successful campaign and strategy. At the sign of decreasing ROI, you know there is something wrong and that you’ll need to make an adjustment.

Conversion Rate

What is considered a conversion? Well, according to Marketing Sherpa’s Ultimate Email Glossary, it means the email recipient performing the desired action we the sender wanted them to perform. This ranges from just opening the email, clicking a link to visit your website or even making a purchase on your website.

Whatever you consider is the conversion action, this conversion rate metric illustrates how strong your list is. Unlike ROI, which measures how successful an email campaign/strategy is, Conversion Rate shows us as a business how loyal and engaged your customers in the list are. Remember to not be fixated on opens and adjust your conversion metrics to show meaningful actions from your subscribers.

Click Through Rate

I personally mention Click Through Rate when talking with email marketers, because I believe it to be very important … especially if you are in the retail business. Click rate or click through rate is immensely valuable when it comes to seeing the level of interest in a product. As a retail business, it is most likely you’ll have multiple products in an email that you are showcasing hoping for the conversion of clients looking at the product in the email to making a purchase on your website.

Well, you can gauge the level of interest in each product you list in your email. Since effectively each link is a product, we can tell how interested people are by how many times they click on that single link. The technology is available for service providers to tell how many times a link has been clicked on. When you have a high click-through rate and an especially high rate of repeated clicks from a single person, you can safely assume that person either likes the product or has a big interest in it.


Unsubscribed contacts are not something a marketer wants to see. Especially in email marketing, when all of your contacts should be clean and want to receive your emails. However, humans are the finicky type and people do things for various reasons. It is expected to get a couple of unsubscribes here and there. So what should you be looking for in unsubscribes?

When your contacts sign up to your list, a big question is why the have signed up in the first place. Were you running a promotion for signing people up? Were these signups from your website? When a person unsubscribes from your email, it’s because they lost that reason for staying. So when you start seeing more and more unsubscribes, you may want to stop and take a look at your emails to see what may be causing a high unsubscribe rate. So unsubscribes let us see cause and effect.


This may seem like a hipster thing and instead of looking at the opens, looking at the unopens is even better. It’s better because when looking at the unopens, you can take direct action to improving your deliverability and make your list stronger. Unopens are unengaged contacts and they basically just take up space and cost you, the email marketer, money. So if you are consistently sending email campaigns that go unopened, you should definitely clean them from your list!

Cleaning them does not mean deleting them off of your list, but at the very least you may want to place them on an inactive list. Legitimate unopened emails that sit in the inbox for a very long time are starting to become a bit of a problem, but not as bad as spam back in the day. However, they are cluttering the inbox and is becoming an issue in the eyes of some providers.

It’s becoming such a problem that it even has a name, called Grey Mail. Grey Mail can lower your deliverability if you send too much of it. So if you start seeing a lot of unopens should trigger a process of cleaning out your list!

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by Benchmark Team