Know Your Email Marketing Reports: How to Use Them Effectively

When you begin utilising valuable email marketing software to automate and personalise email campaigns, you'll notice that your dashboard includes the option to generate reports and to monitor analytics.

These tools are the key to being able to make your email marketing deliver the highest ROI possible. It is to be expected that some emails you send will be unopened or otherwise not engaged with, but using these indicators you can figure out the baseline for your business' email success, and push for greater and greater heights.

The Most Important Performance Indicators

Enginemailer's campaign reporting dashboard

Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, allow you to operationalise your goals.

Reasonably, most marketing teams aim for, say, a higher open rate than click-through rate, since opening an email requires less effort than opening the email and clicking through to your site. However, these numbers may seem low to you at first; don't worry! The goal is to evaluate your latest email marketing campaign, discover your weaknesses, and test your way to greater strengths.

Before you begin optimizing optimising, however, let's focus on what these different analytics, available in your email marketing reports, actually mean.

A) Open Rate

Open rate: measured by numbers of emails opened by your recipients

The open rate is an indicator that notifies you of how many of your emails were opened by the recipient.

They may have only opened it long enough to delete it, or they may have read every word, so the main thing this indicates is that seeing the email in their inbox captured their interest.

High open rates are generated by interesting, catchy subject lines - if you find that an email in your campaign is generating lower-than-average open rates, consider whether the subject line is getting the attention of the audience.

B) Click-Through Rate

When a reader opens your email, they will be offered a variety of opportunities to "click through," or select a hyperlink and follow it to some aspect of your website.

It's a great idea, for this reason, to hyperlink many items in the email; click-through rates are good indicators of who is actively reading your emails or at least highly motivated by the valuable offers you include, like promo codes.

The easier you make it to click to something exciting, the higher these click-through rates will be for your emails.

Reliably, click-through rates are much lower than open rates, but they can often be some of your most avid or loyal customer base.

C) Click-to-Open Rate

For email marketers, it is important to combine the first two statistics into a combination statistic: what is the ration of people who clicked based on those who opened the email?

Click-through rates include the "noise" of those who didn't even open the email, while click-to-open rates help you zero in on just how many, among the openers, found something compelling to click on.

Low click-to-open rates, even if the click-through rates seem fairly high, mean that something got the reader's attention in the subject line, but they lost interest in the text of the email.

However, high click-to-open rates can be a great indicator that, among your most loyal and interested leads, something is working: if you have low click-through overall, but high click-to-open, you may need a new way to get more of these high-loyalty leads.

D) Conversion Rate

Conversion rate formula

The conversion rate is one of the most commonly referenced statistics, and it is essential for your bottom line.

Every email campaign has goals: get new subscribers to a weekly newsletter, get new products purchased, or get sign-ups for an on-site demo, for instance.

Conversion rate is the percentage of emails sent that result in the goal being achieved. So, if you send 1000 emails and 30 people purchase your new product, you have a conversion rate of 3%.

Conversion rate, for this reason, should be an important indicator: if one of your emails in the campaign, for instance, has double the conversion rate of other campaigns, critically analyse how you can mimic that success in future emails.

E) Bounce Rate

Bounce rate

The bounce rate is important to keep your email list up-to-date; your bounces are the emails that aren't ever delivered.

A message comes back saying that the email "bounced," giving you insight into what happened. Some of these will be because the inbox is full, often a sign that it isn't attended to by anyone, while others will make it clear that the email address was fake.

Whenever possible, cut made-up email addresses from your list, since you don't want to send emails to thin air, and you want an accurate read on how many people are receiving and thus considering your emails.

Having a 1000-email subscriber list with 500 made-up emails on it, for instance, makes your other rates skewed and hard to compare to other, more active 1000-email lists.

F) Unsubscribe Rate

An unsubsribe button

In the same way that conversion rate is essential, unsubscribe rate is also very important, but for the opposite reason.

Open rates and click-through rates may seem frustrating if they don't end in a sale or a sign-up, but remember that they are still open to being contacted again.

You know this based on a low unsubscribe rate: the amount of people who leave your list entirely because of this one email.

Often, it is worth considering whether there are other factors besides this one email that could have bumped up your unsubscribe rate:

  • Have you sent a lot of emails lately? This could have been the last straw for someone who was considering unsubscribing.
  • Are the emails not truly relevant to the moment? This could make subscribers feel like they can sign up at another time.
  • Has this person simply been on the list for a long time? Consider new personalised campaigns for long-time subscribers.

Unsubscribe rates are not helpful on their own because it is so hard to know exactly why one person unsubscribed; however, when you are sending a lot of emails, you will occasionally notice a spike in unsubscribe rate, and that is worth considering and reflecting on.

After all, the goal is continuous improvement.

G) Campaign Totals Versus Global Totals

Once you understand all of these terms, you can use them to evaluate individual email campaigns versus the global totals.

While there are plenty of "typical" email marketing rates for any given industry, it is more important to compare your email marketing reports to other campaigns, and to maintain good records of past successes.

If a particular campaign doesn't generate much conversion, take note of the strategies you used and plan to do something different for the next campaign.

Moving Forward After Email Marketing Reports

After you sift through the data on your email marketing, you get to engage with the proactive task of making your email campaigns even stronger.

Here are three steps to try to see greater and greater click-through and conversion from your email marketing.

1) Make Quality Control Part of the Process

Uninteresting graphics, large blocks of text, common spelling errors, and broken links are all elements that shouldn't ever make it into marketing emails, but sadly do.

One way to ensure that these things don't happen is to implement a two-step process (or more!) for preparing and automating emails.

If one person is tasked with creating the design and content, make sure at least one other person is evaluating it based on a checklist you provide and making changes if necessary: add a better image, break up the text, correct errors, and test all links twice!

Small slips in quality can account for big gaps in your email marketing reports.

2) Higher-Engagement Emails

If you want to encourage click-through and conversion, make as much of the email a call-to-action as you can.

Notice which specific links tend to get the best click-through rates, and make similar links in future emails.

If you notice, for instance, a particular social media button is getting more popular, create an entire email devoted to the ways people can engage with that social media account, including hashtags and contests, if appropriate.

Even if the path this leads you down doesn't seem immediately relevant to conversion, you may be surprised: just engaging repeatedly with your brand may get this prospect farther into the sales funnel.

3) A/B Testing

A/B testing is crucial in determine the most effective email marketing campaign

When you know exactly what you want to do with your emails, and you are confident of quality, you may still have one or two lingering questions: is this image more eye-catching or that one? Is this subject line more likely to get your attention or is another one better?

With A/B Testing, you can send part of your list one email and part of the list a slightly changed version.

Then, you can compare the results side-by-side, generating a report that indicates whether that tweaked subject line or the flashier graphic had any impact on the rates.

This sort of testing should be fundamental to your innovation process, and it can help you make choices once you've analysed all your available data.

Over time, these tests will yield best practices for your business' unique niche that continue to evolve long-term.

Ready to make the most of your email marketing reports? Contact us to learn more about the valuable data available in your email marketing software!