Anyone can create an email marketing campaign in a day. Creating and setting up a campaign that gets results and drives sales consistently is a different story. There are a dozen different aspects that you have to nail before you can reasonably expect to generate a high email marketing ROI.
Marketers around the world have been tweaking and perfecting their email marketing strategies for decades now. As a result, we have well-established email marketing best practices that anyone can follow to flatten the learning curve, avoid common mistakes, and create high-performing campaigns on the first try.
That said, following the best practices doesn’t necessarily guarantee success. Every business is different, and the approach you take with your email marketing should heavily depend on what it is you’re offering and who you’re promoting to.
There are no certainties in email marketing—it’s more of an art than a science. This doesn’t mean that you have to go through the painstaking trial-and-error process to figure out what works and spend thousands on multiple campaigns before you start generating profit.
When you know what email marketing metrics to monitor, it becomes easy to discern the performance of your campaign. Keeping a close eye on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for email marketing will help you pinpoint the areas for improvement, allowing you to optimize every email and maximize the revenue generated from your email marketing efforts.
Here are the nine crucial email campaign metrics you need to track:
List growth rate
As soon as you launch your email marketing campaign, you should start monitoring your bounce rate. Bounces refer to the number of emails that never reached your subscribers.
There are two different types of bounces:
Soft bounces—Bounces that are the result of a technical problem with the recipient’s Email Service Provider (ESP)
Hard bounces—Bounces that signify a permanent problem with the email address
Hard bounces typically occur when the email address doesn’t exist. It’s not uncommon for people to input random email addresses when opting-in if they’re interested in getting the lead magnet but don’t want to receive promotional emails from the brand in the future.
This is the worst-case scenario for any business because:
You’re not getting a lead
You’ll tank your sender score by sending emails to non-existent addresses
The more emails you send to fake addresses, the worse your sender score will be. As your bounce rate increases, the ESPs will flag you as a poor sender and send more of your emails to the recipient’s spam folders automatically.
That’s why it’s necessary to maintain a quality mailing list. This means removing fake addresses, as well as inactive subscribers. There are email list management tools that can help you sort your mailing list retroactively, but it’s always best to nip the problem in the bud.
You want to prevent fake email registration. This can be done fairly easily by implementing a double opt-in—asking your subscribers to verify their email addresses before providing them with a link to the lead magnet.
Another effective way to ensure your mailing list isn’t flooded with bogus addresses is by integrating an Application Programming Interface (API) into your opt-in forms. The Sell SaaS API is incredibly easy to set up, and it will prevent people from signing up with fake email addresses by comparing their entry with vast email databases.
With only a few clicks, you can get rid of hard bounces for good and maintain a high sender score with ease.
Email open rate is one of the most straightforward email marketing KPIs. It tells you how many subscribers clicked on the emails you sent.
The open rate is directly related to your email subject line. If your open rates are low, that means you need to work on improving your subject lines and figure out how to make your messages stand out in the sea of emails in your subscribers’ inboxes.
The rule of thumb is that you want to keep your subject lines short and to the point. At the same time, they must pique the subscribers’ interest and make them eager to read the email and see what it’s all about.
Think of subject lines as the headlines of your emails. They need to be clear and compelling, and the subscribers should have a decent idea of what they can expect to read in the email just from reading that one sentence. You can read up about the best email marketing subject lines to get more information on how to draft them.
An average email open rate is somewhere around 24%. If your open rates are below 20%, you need to go back to the drawing board, consider a new approach, and try making your subject lines more appealing.
The best way to figure out what works for your business and your audience is by implementing A/B testing in your campaigns. In terms of open rates, this practice involves sending identical emails with different subject lines and seeing which one gets more clicks.
Click-through rates (CTRs) tell you how many of your subscribers have opened the emails you sent them, read them, and clicked the CTA (call-to-action) buttons in them. Click-through rates tell you how compelling the offers in your emails are to your subscribers.
CTR is one of the most crucial metrics, as the goal of your email marketing efforts is to get the subscribers to click the link in your emails and take the desired action. If people are reading your emails but aren’t taking you up on your offers, you’re not getting a return on your investment.
The average email CTR is around 4%, so if less than one in twenty-five people clicks on your CTAs, you will need to optimize them. There are a couple of reasons why your subscribers might not be clicking on your CTAs. Most commonly, they either aren’t interested in your offer, or you’ve failed to convince them that your product is worth checking out.
To optimize your CTR, you should:
Come up with compelling offers — give them something that’s difficult to refuse
Write powerful email copy — explain what your product/service can do for your subscribers and what the biggest benefits they’ll get from it are
Add attention-grabbing CTAs — make sure the CTAs stand out from the rest of the email and clearly communicate what it is you want the subscribers to do
One piece of advice we can give you regarding email CTAs is to forget links. Links are lame, and they are for losers. If you want your CTAs to have the desired impact, you should design them!
A visually appealing CTA button is much more effective than a simple hyperlink. And you don’t have to be a professional designer to create one. There are hundreds of free email templates you can download and edit in seconds to craft professional-looking emails with next to no effort.
As with subject lines, you can split-test different CTAs to find out what works best for your subscribers.
Conversion rates function similarly to the click-through rates but take things a step further. This metric shows you how many people have clicked on the CTAs in your email and then completed a specific action. This action can but doesn’t have to be making a purchase.
A conversion signifies that the subscriber took the desired action. If you’re running a lead nurturing campaign, you’d consider every time a subscriber has downloaded the PDF, case study, or eBook you provided a conversion.
The conversion rate is directly related to the CTAs in your emails and is one of the most important email marketing metrics. Getting the people to click the CTA is only the first step—they must also take the next step for you to get any sort of payoff from your email marketing campaign.
The last thing you want to do when sending out email campaigns is to come off as a spammer. If you relentlessly send promotional offers day after day, without providing any value to your subscribers, they’ll get sick and tired of receiving your emails pretty fast.
This will likely result in a portion of your subscribers flagging your emails as spam. Email service providers care about email recipients as much, if not more, than they care about email senders.
To uphold their reputation, ESPs implement filters and mechanisms to keep their users’ inboxes as spam-free as possible. They take spam complaints very seriously and might even block you from sending emails, so getting labeled as a spammer by an ESP is something you want to avoid at all costs.
An ESP will track the number of spam complaints automatically, but you should make it a habit to check out how many people are reporting your emails for spam, at least weekly. On top of that, you should refrain from using aggressive email marketing strategies.
The best way to avoid getting reported for email spam is to:
Avoid spam words in your subject lines
Send emails once every other day, at most
Include an unsubscribe link in every email
Mix and match content and promotional offers
When it comes to spam words in subject lines, avoid stuff like free, buy now, act now, don’t delete this email, and other words that make it sounds like you’re either desperate or are trying to shove products down subscribers’ throats.
With sending frequency, the situation is a bit different—there are a few exceptions to the rule. It might be alright to send an email each day if you’re running something like a Black Friday sale, but even then, you should never send more than one email a day.
If someone wants to check out your offers, they will. There’s no reason to send them five emails in a day because “they might miss out on a great deal.”
Also, you should always give your subscribers a way to opt-out of your mailing list. If they’re at a point when they want to unsubscribe, there’s no reason to keep them around because:
You likely won’t be able to sell them anything anyway
Failing to provide an unsubscribe option will annoy these subscribers, resulting in a bunch of spam complaints
Finally, don’t sell all the time. Share relevant, valuable content with your subscribers from time to time via email newsletters. Notify them of your newest blog post, share industry news, and provide other useful information. Show them that you genuinely care about helping them solve a problem or reach their goal, rather than just lining your pockets with their hard-earned money. Here are some tips on how to create an email newsletter that both engages and converts.
The forwarding rate shows you how many of your subscribers have passed on your email message. You can think of this metric as referrals. Whenever someone forwards your email to a friend or shares your message on social media, your business is getting exposure for free.
These subscribers are a gold mine! When someone’s ready to tell other people about your business, you can be sure that they’ll be more than willing to check out your offers and more likely to make a purchase.
Keep in mind that this rarely happens unless you provide some sort of incentive. It’s not impossible that someone will find your new summer collection so captivating that they’d want to share it with their friends.
When you offer a discount code for friend referrals, you can be sure that many more people will click that “forward” or “share on social media” button to get 10% off their purchase.
This way, you’re killing two birds with one stone—you’re facilitating the subscriber’s buying decision and are potentially getting more customers without making an additional investment.
Loyalty (refer-a-friend) programs are an immensely powerful marketing strategy. In fact, as much as 81% of consumers’ buying decisions are based on their friends’ recommendations on social media.
You want to keep an eye on the percentage of people who unsubscribe from your email list. All reputable ESPs and decent email marketing tools track this metric by default.
You should pay close attention to your unsubscribe rate, as it can be a clear indicator that your subscribers aren’t exactly delighted to see your emails in their inbox. That said, you shouldn’t be disheartened by the number of unsubscribes. It’s impossible to retain every subscriber, and people who aren’t willing to receive your emails wouldn’t have made a purchase anyway.
Still, if you’re losing a hundred subscribers every week, you should stop to think about the possible reason. Most often, people unsubscribe because they get annoyed by constant spam.
Give your subscribers a reason to stay on your mailing list—provide value in your emails and inform and educate your readers, rather than bombard them with “buy my stuff” messages.
This metric is pretty self-explanatory—it shows you how fast your email list is growing. The list growth rate doesn’t tell you much about your campaigns, though. It merely shows you the effectiveness of your lead-capturing mechanisms.
It’s fairly uncommon for an email software to track the list growth rate, but they will track the number of new subscribers. All you need to do to calculate this metric is subtract the number of unsubscribes from the number of new leads, then divide it by the total number of email addresses in your list. To get the percentage, multiply the result by 100.
List Growth Rate Formula
(Number of unsubscribes - number of new email leads) / total number of email addresses on your mailing list x 100
If you have opt-in forms set up on your website, you should realistically expect to receive a decent number of new leads each week. The number depends on your website traffic, so it’s impossible to give even a rough estimate, but your mailing list should be growing consistently.
If that isn’t the case, you need to rethink your lead-capturing strategy and maybe even create new lead magnets and experiment with different lead generation methods.
Keep in mind that email marketing is a numbers game—even if every other metric stays the same, from open rates to conversions, the more subscribers you have, the more sales you’ll generate.
Last but certainly not least, we have the overall email marketing ROI. This KPI takes all the other metrics into consideration and shows you the return on investment of your email marketing efforts.
The calculation isn’t as straightforward as it may appear when you take into consideration that your email gain doesn’t come down to just the number of sales you generated. We created a step-by-step guide to calculating email marketing ROI, so we won’t get into too much detail here.
Just keep in mind that email marketing has the highest average ROI out of all online marketing strategies, and you should strive for about $40 in profits for every $1 spent on your email marketing campaigns.
Tracking crucial metrics and tweaking your campaigns as you go is the only way to optimize their performance and ensure a good ROI. With the right tools, you can easily discern what works and what doesn’t and make the necessary adjustment to improve your campaigns’ effectiveness.
Our white-label email newsletter/cadence creator automatically tracks the most relevant metrics—bounce, open, click-through rates, etc. With a glance at your dashboard, you’ll be able to see the overall performance of your campaigns, as well as the effectiveness of each individual email.
The autoresponder also enables you to craft professional-looking emails in seconds through an intuitive drag-and-drop email editor. On top of all that, there’s no limit to the number of emails you can send monthly.
The best part of our software is the fact that you can both use and resell it! Just add your company name, logo, and colors, and you can start reselling the software to your subscribers under your own brand.
You get to dictate the price, and you’ll keep between 60% and 80% of each sale you make. You don’t need to buy any special licenses, and there are no additional fees. Plus, we’ll handle everything from setting up the domain to providing customer support to your clients.
Apart from the autoresponder, we offer a dozen powerful, fully white-label tools you can start reselling today to maximize your profits.
Here are our most popular white-label software solutions:
White-Label Software You Can Use and Resell
Maximize your email marketing ROI and create an additional, passive revenue stream with Sell SaaS—get started today for free!
Just follow our battle-tested guidelines and rake in the profits.