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Revealed: Four of the most important email marketing performance indicators and how to use them

Leverage these metrics, and others like them, to better understand your customers and evolve your email messaging from batch-and-blast to 1:1

Savvy brands have long since realised that the one-size-fits-all batch-and-blast approach to email marketing is not as effective as taking a more targeted approach. Without a level of personalisation, batch-and-blast simply clogs up customers’ inboxes and gives companies a bad name. Smart marketing teams now use performance indicators to tailor their campaigns. With the right metrics, you can better understand your customers and inject a level of personalisation into your campaigns making them more relevant to the individual and triggering one-to-one conversations at the moments that matter.  

In a nutshell: In the shift from reach to relevance, not all performance indicators are equal. Here are the pros and cons of four of the most powerful metrics and how to use them for maximum effect:

  1. Open rate – the difference between total and unique OR

What is it? Open rate (OR) is one of the most widely used email marketing metrics, and for good reason. It’s particularly good at indicating the effectiveness of a particular subject line, as well as revealing customer availability.

What’s the problem? There’s an important distinction between total ORs (which include multiple opens by one individual) and unique open rates, where duplicate openings are discounted. Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) update also reduces the effectiveness of OR as a stand-alone metric.  

What’s the solution? Epsilon has a method of zeroing in on “real” opens in order to return significance and meaning to the OR. This method leverages in-market signals to identify openers of email that have enabled MPP and add those opens back into reporting.

Do email campaign performance indicators leave you confused? Download Epsilon’s Guide to Bulls**t Metrics, understand your customers better and upgrade your email campaigns. 

  1. Click-through-rates – but what happens post-click?

What is it? Click-through rate (CTR) is a great way of measuring how interested your customers are in particular elements within your email. It reveals a customer’ direct intent to engage with your brand.

What’s the problem? CTR doesn’t reveal much about what the customer did outside the email or after the click. This means CTR can’t help brands measure conversion rates or next actions taken.

What’s the solution? By paying attention to who clicks what, brands can increase email personalisation, especially with machine learning and AI. Although transactional messages often have cross-sell opportunities, CTR works very well for promotional and newsletter communications.

  1. Click-to-open rate – accuracy and reliability are key

What is it? Click-to-open rate (CTOR) compares the number of people who opened your email to the number of people who actually clicked. It’s a great way of measuring whether email content was compelling enough to drive further action.

What’s the problem? CTOR might be great at measuring content effectiveness, but it still doesn’t give a full picture of what customers do post-click. Apple’s MPP update also leads to an under-reporting of opening rates and makes CTOR appear lower.

What’s the solution? Accuracy and reliability are key. That’s why it’s extremely important to get exact measurements for the most accurate ratio of clicks to opens. While it’s an easily available metric for most email marketers, CTOR can get unreliable very quickly.

  1. Unsubscribe rate – why are customers unsubscribing? 

What is it? The unsubscribe rate represents the number of people clicking the unsubscribe link to opt out of future emails. It’s one of the most reliable metrics available.

What’s the problem?

The unsubscribe rate doesn’t automatically explain why people are hitting the unsub button. Reasons could include a general dislike of a brand’s email campaigns or frequency of sends. It may even be a general disinterest in the brand itself. Unsub rates also don’t include recipients who ignore, delete, or report email as spam.

What’s the solution? For greater insight, include an optional form or survey on your unsubscribe landing page so customers can share their views. If you notice a spike in unsubs, look at other metrics such as open rate and click-through rate to understand why people aren’t satisfied. 

The bottom line: Choosing the right metrics can be a confusing process, but it needn’t be. Epsilon’s new Emailer Marketer’s Guide to Bulls**t Metrics goes into greater detail about the four performance indicators above as well as explaining the strengths and weaknesses of other important metrics, such as complaint rate, inbox rate, ROI, and attribution.

Download Epsilon’s Guide to Bulls**t Metrics, understand your customers better, and upgrade your email campaigns.