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Here’s how you can simplify email metrics for improved performance

Complicated email metrics confusing you? Try this class by guest expert Lindsey Breitwieser as she simplifies email metrics to track for improved performance.

Do you think sending out an efficient email campaign is the only important part of email marketing? Wrong. It’s just as necessary to track your campaign performance via email metrics.

In this class, we show you how to apply your email metrics to optimize campaign performance with Lindsey Breitwieser, operating CMO of the CMO lab, a company that teaches you how to use your marketing for growth. Her courses on consulting and team training teach you to think big picture and create a strong marketing plan, and move beyond awareness to start generating results. 

Lindsey has created a custom training that will show you how to make email metrics work for you. By the end of the class, you’re going to know exactly which metrics are the most helpful to track, and how you can use that data to make informed decisions and ultimately make your marketing better.

Let’s start by understanding your email metrics. So, what are they?

What are metrics?

Business owners can sometimes break into a panic thinking about tracking data analytics, or anything that comes to mind when they hear the term.

But you’re likely already using metrics every single day. Metrics are simply things that can be measured over time. It’s just a data point; you can track it over time and see how things have changed.

Here’s a great example: pounds are a metric. We can keep track of our weight in pounds over time, and see if it goes up or down. When you notice that your weight does go up or down, you begin to think of the reasons why those results may have occurred. You could say I started exercising, or if your pounds went up, you could say it’s likely because of x or y.

It’s exactly the same with your email metrics. 

Key email metrics

Now, let’s get into email metrics that you really need to know.

There are a number of things that you can look at to see how your emails are performing

1. Open rate. This is the percentage of people that have received your email and opened it to read it

2. Unsubscribe rate. This is the percentage of people that have opted out of receiving your communications.

3. Click-through rate. Out of all the recipients of your email, this is the percentage of people that took a click-based action.

4. Time of day/day of the week. You might want to keep track of this on your own. For example, do you send your emails every Monday or Wednesday? And on those days, are you sending them in the morning? Are you sending them after work? Those are all really important data points and metrics that you can track over time.


Now that you know what you can measure, let’s look at the standard benchmarks that you can use to evaluate your performance.

1. Open rate. A great open rate will hover around 20 to 30% and can be a good benchmark to set for your own open rate. Put it this way, if you send out an email and 70% of the recipients don’t even read it, you’re still performing really well.

2. Unsubscribe rate. Your unsubscribe rate should remain under 1%, and ideally under 0.05%.

3. Click-through rate. The standard click-through rate is going to be roughly between 2% and 5%. But it really depends on your industry.

4. Time of day/day of the week. Your time of day and day of week is variable by industry as well. We see with retailers and shopping that they have great open rates after work hours and on the weekends. People who are sending emails to a more business-oriented target might see something totally different. Their open rates might be better during the workweek or during typical work hours. 

When it comes to thinking about these benchmarks, keep two very important things in mind.

First, you need time to determine them for your own company. Get numbers every time you send an email, because percentages can be really volatile if you have a small customer base. This means every slight change to email performance will result in erratic changes in percentages. So, you want to give yourself time when you’re looking at your data and creating your own benchmarks. Only start looking to see trends after a quarter or more to really get a good idea of your overall performance.

Second, expect some variation. As your email list grows, maintaining percentages becomes more difficult. For example, if you have an email list with 100 people, a 30% open rate is only 30 people opening it. Now as your email list grows, say you have 300 people now, you’re going to have to have 90 people opening your emails to maintain that same percentage. So expect some variation. That’s why there are ranges for these benchmarks, things can be a little bit flexible.

You’ve got the data, now what?

Now that you know what to look at, and you have some good benchmarks to base your info on, what can you actually change with all this information?

Let’s walk through the specific optimizations or improvements that you can test to increase your email performance.

Testing optimizations to increase your email performance

1. Unsubscribes are climbing

Say you notice that your unsubscribes are beginning to rise. Three things you can do are:

  • Evaluate how many emails you’re sending per week. You might just be sending way too many and people will start to get annoyed with how frequently you’re showing up in their inbox.
  • Determine if the messages you’re sending can be more specific. For example, you might have different lists or different groups of people that you communicate with. Determine if the message is meaningful to your audience, or only a particular segment of your audience. Make sure you’re providing them with specific information about what they’re interested in.
  • Make sure you’re providing value. As business owners, we want sales. But when people get barrages of email messages saying “buy this” or “buy that” they can get annoyed. So try to add more value.

2. Open rates are declining

What do you do if you notice that your open rates are beginning to decline?

  • Start to experiment with the time of day or day of the week that you’re sending your information. Even though this is variable, you can test it out a couple of different ways until you find your ideal sweet spot.
  • Experiment with shorter, more attention-grabbing email subject lines. If people aren’t opening your email, you don’t want to spend a lot of time just yet focusing on the content in there because they’re not even getting that far. You’re going to want to play around with more attention-grabbing subject lines. Keep them short and pique their curiosity.
  • Write different communications for different segments. If you have different messages that would be more meaningful to different groups of people, create different emails for them. They will appreciate it and hopefully open your email because the information is relevant to what they’re interested in.

3. You’re not getting any clicks

If you notice that you’re not getting any clicks on your emails, try these changes to increase the performance.

  • Be more clear with your desired end result. A lot of times our brains will fill in the gaps as we create our marketing materials. So we think we put a button in there and people just know what to do. But that’s not the case. It might be clear to us, but it’s not always clear to them. So be extremely clear in your email copy with the desired end result. You can do this by adding copy around your button, like ‘click here to schedule a call’. Or if you include a link, ‘here is the link that will take you to my website’. You can get really specific about the desired action you want your readers to take.
  • Move your call to action up in your email copy. When it comes to digital and email marketing you have a matter of seconds to grab someone’s attention and drive them to act. So move what you want them to do right up to the beginning of your email. Put your buttons above the fold and any links or actions you want your reader to take. Move it up as early as possible.
  • Use design to make your link or button stand out and catch the eye. This can be done with bright colors, bold text, or anything that breaks up the visuals in your email to make the eye go exactly where you need it to.

Master the art of email marketing with our tools and tips.

Case studies

Let’s look at two real case studies to see the information shared above in practice.

1. Black Friday email blast campaign

The client in this case study was doing a Black Friday email blast campaign.

On average, they sent about two to three emails per week. And they knew that their unsubscribe rate was roughly 0.3%. That worked out to between eight and nine people that unsubscribed per message. That was their benchmark.

When they had a really big Black Friday sale coming up, they increased the number of emails that they were sending for a really short period of time. By 300%. They went from two to three emails per week to sending out thirteen.

In just seven days, the unsubscribe rate jumped to 0.6%. During that week, every time they shot out an email, they were seeing about 18 people unsubscribe.

So, what did they do?

The large increase in unsubscribes signaled that the problem was either the messaging or the frequency. In this case, what we changed was the frequency. They changed it pretty dramatically too. And the brand had begun to annoy its subscribers.

The annoyance of the subscribers is what the brand is able to extrapolate by looking at the change in the data point. Therefore the unsubscribe data points made us aware of an issue.

And now we got to look back and say, “Oh, well, of course, we tripled the number of emails that we were sending. That’s got to be the cause.” Armed with this info, the brand immediately backed down to its original email cadence and saw that the unsubscribe rate returned to its standard 0.3%.

The learning and the optimization that they carried forward is reducing the cadence of emails for future sales.

2. Subject line edits

Another case study had to do with changing the email subject lines to help increase the brand’s email open rate.

This brand had an open rate of about 20%, which isn’t bad, but they felt that there was room for improvement. Often one of the first things that you can do, and one of the first things they did was to test the subject line copy, trying to increase the odds that the emails would stand out in a crowded inbox. 

This technique was successful in increasing their open rate by an additional 15%.

The use of stylized texts helped draw the eye to the copy in that crowded inbox. They also made sure when writing the subject lines that they were putting the most important information out there right away, there was little room for curiosity in this instance.

They also purposely left out key information to make readers feel as though they had to open the email to get the rest of the details. Using powerful marketing phrases like ‘you won’t believe’ or ‘did you know’ naturally make readers feel as though they need to finish the thought and open the email to learn more.

These are just two ways that you can play with subject lines to help pique curiosity or help your copy stand out in what we know is a super competitive space–the crowded inbox.

In conclusion, Lindsey showed, with examples and case studies, that understanding and utilizing email metrics is the key to unlocking the potential of your email campaigns and maximizing their effectiveness.

If you want to learn more about The CMO Lab and sign up here for free resources.

You can download Lindsey’s email metrics cheat sheet to boost your email metrics.

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