Six Stats To Help Improve Email Marketing

email marketing analytics and metrics

How To Analyze Your Email Marketing Success

Email marketing has changed traditional marketing by offering laser-focused data and metrics. There’s no reason to argue about whether blue or yellow is a better background color when you can A/B test it—or a million other variables—to find out for sure. And while one of the best ways to judge your campaign is by your internal metrics plotted over time, it’s also helpful to know where you stand in your industry.

We’ve picked out six core statistics that will help you understand the relative success or shortcomings of your email marketing campaign. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to start refining your campaign, keeping the original baseline measurements to track your progress.

The statistics we’ve chosen are provided by MailChimp, which sends billions of emails monthly to its more than 7 million users. All the campaign statistics included were for lists of at least 1,000 subscribers; companies range from single-person startups to Fortune 500 giants.

What Are The Average Number for Unique Email Opens?

The open rate of emails is the number of successfully delivered emails that your subscribers opened. Open rates are calculated by embedding a single-pixel, transparent image in every message; anytime an email is opened, this invisible image is downloaded from email servers, registering the open. Email open rates aren’t entirely foolproof. If your recipient has images turned off, the image won’t be downloaded, and the open won’t register. Many email platforms compensate in part for this potentiality by registering an open for any email that achieved a click-through.

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Open rates tell you one thing about your campaign: the effectiveness of your subject line. This is one of the reasons subject lines are ripe for A/B testing. Not only is it simple and straightforward, but it’s a quick way to increase your open rates and find out more about the effectiveness of your content. A good subject line provides clear information about what’s inside the email.

Write Enticing Subject Lines

Often, poor open rates are the result of an irrelevant or uninteresting subject line, a list of subscribers not sufficiently segmented, or an issue with email frequency (too many or too few). Segmenting subscribers can allow you to create more carefully tailored subject lines. The broader your audience, the more generic your subject line usually becomes. Any consumer demographic can be used to segment your list. Even if the offer inside the email remains the same, segmenting your list to use different subject lines can quickly and easily boost open rates. If you have an irregular pattern of email send-offs, track the success of emails sent days apart versus weeks apart, or whatever interval makes the most sense for your business. Like subject lines, email frequency is another great test subject.

Email open rates

Email open rates vary widely by industry. MailChimp research reveals a range of open rates from nearly 31 percent to the hobby industry to little more than 13 percent for e-coupons and daily deals. Professional services such as architecture and interior design hover at 21.3 according to data from Constant Contact. Everyone else is somewhere in between. Some aspects are intuitive—it makes sense that people are more interested in opening emails connected to things they enjoy knowing about than they are to a new “daily deal,” especially if they have no intention of shopping that day. But there’s another important lesson: If you can connect your email, no matter the industry, with your potential customer’s passions and interests, you might improve open rates. Approximate the emotion they feel about their hobbies to capture the power of that industry’s open rates.

The spread for open rates based on company size has a far narrower spread, from 21.1 percent for businesses of 11 to 25 people to 23.4 percent for companies of more than fifty. Ignoring for the moment that the difference likely remains well within the margin for error, a potential take away focuses more, perhaps, on the ability of big business to implement best-practice email marketing strategies than it does on the direct correlation between company size and email open rates. Ultimately, this is good news. No matter the size of your business, you can enjoy equivalent open rates of the largest businesses on the planet. The playing field, in this case, is level.

Using Click-Through Rates To Determine Value

Click-through rates are calculated as a percentage—the number of successfully delivered emails that generated at least one user click. CTR is a metric that lets you know how useful your email content is to your subscribers. The base click-through rate doesn’t specify which link was clicked, or how long after the initial open the click-through occurred. Click-through rates are a great indication of how your content connects with your readers.

How to Improve Your Click-Through Rate

rateOne of the fastest ways to improve your click-through rate is by segmenting your list. You can’t deliver tailored content until you have a segregated audience. This isn’t a new concept. What you might say on a job site to a subcontractor is far different than what you may talk about with a prospective new hire at your firm.

Methodologies for improving your click-through rates center primarily on your use of links. Just as with the rest of your content development, avoid the “click here” anchor text, which provides little information about what’s on the other side of the link and doesn’t support the needs of physically challenged users who rely on screen readers. It also comes off as somewhat dated: Users on their tablets or smartphones won’t be clicking a mouse button. Choose anchor text that aptly describes the page on the other side of the link and, whenever possible, link to a particular page (ideally, a targeted landing page) on your website. If you take visitors to your homepage, they’ll still be too far from the conversion point to provide much return on investment from the initial click.

Use A Call To Action

If your email has just a single call to action, consider providing multiple links to the same content in your email. This puts your conversion point (the click) in more places, increasing the chances that a reader, no matter where they are in your email, has immediate access to the link. If you have only one link, make sure it appears above the fold so that a viewer doesn’t need to scroll to take action.

A/B Testing Your Emails

You can A/B test the best place for links in your email by repositioning content blocks. Further, you can A/B test content with merge tags. Email services like MailChimp will send the two versions of content to a small subset of your email list; the version that performs better will then be sent to the rest of your list.

By industry, click-through rates vary from 1.88 percent to 6.65 percent, split among the same two industries: daily deals (small) and hobbies (high). The spread of click-through rates, like open rates, is far more narrow when looking at company size, ranging from 3.1 percent to 3.6 percent. Again, companies with eleven to twenty-five employees were at the lower end; companies with twenty-six to fifty employees were at the high end, although all other companies was only one-tenth of a percentage point behind.

Email Bounce Rates

What is a Soft Bounce Email?

Soft bounces mean a recipient inbox is simply temporarily unavailable. This could be because their inbox is full, or email service servers are down. Most email services allow five consecutive soft bounces before counting the aggregate as a hard bounce.

Depending on your industry, soft bounces may average as high as 3 percent although they’re between 0.5 percent and 1.5 percent for most industries.

What is a Hard Bounce Email?

Hard bounces occur when an email address is no longer active. (For new subscribers, it could be the case of a typo during sign up.) Often, this indicates the need to purge your list of outdated contacts or implement better strategies for maintaining your contacts. Another cause of hard bounces is rejection by a spam filter. If you notice a particular email generates a large number of bounces, spammy characteristics of your email could be the problem. Some of the most frequent violations are excessive use of all capital letters or exclamation points.

Hard bounce rates are typically just under soft bounce rates, between 0.5 and 1 percent. However, the massive lists of large companies appear slightly more prone to higher rates of hard bounces.

What Are Abuse Complaint Rates (and why they matter)

An abuse complaint occurs when an email recipient clicks “This is spam” in their email service. It could be simply that they don’t remember signing up for your list, or it could be indicative of bad practices within your contact generation (like list buying). A good way to avoid this is to include your company name in the “From” and “Subject” lines, to help recipients recognize your emails. Across all industries, abuse complaints hover around 0.05 percent.


Unsubscribes occur when recipients choose to receive no longer email from your company. A high unsubscribe rate, anything over 0.5 percent should be cause for introspection. Of course, tracking your unsubscribe rate over time is more effective than any one-time metric.

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About Michael Conway and Means-of-Production

My firm builds Squarespace websites, email marketing, blog writing and content marketing campaigns for home improvement professionals like architects, interior designers, design-build contractors and landscape design firms. Our all-in-one approach to marketing is a proven way to attract the new (and better) clients. We exceptional architectural photography and brand messaging that sets you apart from the competition.