The Top 6 KPIs for Email Marketing You Need to Know


5 minute read

Keeping track of important email marketing metrics and KPIs are imperative to having success in Email Marketing. There are countless KPIs you can monitor, however, there are some rates that are more important to keep track of than others.

The 6 Most Important KPIs for Email Marketing

  1. Conversion Rates
  2. Open Rates
  3. Forward Rate
  4. Click-through rate (CTR)
  5. Bounce Rate
  6. Unsubscribe rate

The list of KPIs for email marketing that any business could be keeping track of is essentially endless. However, there are measurements that are more beneficial to keep track of and will help your company run a more smooth and well-rounded campaign, with the ultimate end goal of sales or profit for your business.

Why Is It Important to Analyze Email Marketing Kpis?

Measuring email marketing KPIs is vital for any business that is actively trying to grow and connect with its customers. Ensuring you are hitting all of your targets is key, as this will help you grow and will help you strategize how to improve your email marketing campaigns.

Email Marketers should be paying close attention to these indicators, as you want to make sure you are fully capturing your audience’s attention, and optimizing all avenues to get the best ROI.

Check our YouTube video about Email Conversion Rates

1. Conversion rates

A conversion rate is calculated by finding the percentage of email recipients who clicked on a link(s) in an email campaign and followed through with the desired action. For example, filling out an application or a contact form.

Measuring your conversion rate will greatly help you calculate how your marketing campaigns are being run, and how effective your marketing strategies are.

Calculating your conversion rate is simply by taking the number of users who have successfully completed the goal or action set forth on your website, and dividing it by the total audience that the ad or campaign was sent to. You will then multiply that number by 100.

conversion rates

An example conversion rate would be to say you had a campaign out, with a target audience of 10,000 people. Out of all 10,000, 1,500 converted – the calculation would then be to divide 1,500 by 10,000, which would leave you with a 0.15 (15%) conversion rate.

2. Open Rates and How to Calculate Them

An Open Rate is based on the number or percentage of email recipients who open the emails sent to them. Important to note, said emails only count towards a company’s Open Rate if this email is opened and all embedded images are also visible.

Knowing what your open rates are is an important metric to keep track of, as this tells an entire story about your engagement with your audience and how well your email marketing campaigns are being received and acted upon.

Ensuring you have interesting or eye-catching subject lines in your email campaign is a great start to make sure you get that initial “click” on the emails sent to your recipient’s inbox. Your subject line should be informative if that is the campaign theme you are going for, or if you are trying to advertise a product, then it should be, in some way, captivating your audience to want to learn more.

Open rates matter because they ensure a few things. One of them being email deliverability. Showing that your recipient is receiving your emails and successfully opening them means they are reaching your target audience. This also means you are targeting the correct audience for your brand. Making sure that your email marketing campaigns are being sent to the people who are interested in something you have to offer means that you have a higher chance of getting those conversion rates.

How to Improve Email Open Rates

Making sure you have a high Open Rate for your email marketing campaigns is important and there are many different ways to go about ensuring you have a strong chance at getting that successful open rate.

a. Creating an Organic Email List:

When creating your email lists, you want to make sure you are putting out quality email campaigns and need not worry so much about the quantity. Just because you have 1,000 recipients to email, doesn’t always mean more of them will open your email. Finding recipients who have an interest in what you are sending out means more than the number of emails delivered.

Try finding a way to offer a free trial, or a discount in exchange for an email. This way, you know the user is already in need or at least interested in the service or product you are selling. People are more likely to hand over their email when they are getting something in return.

b. Spam Filters

One of the most common reasons an email isn’t delivered to a recipient, related to business or not, is because of Spam Filters. Spam filters are set in place to weed out any unwanted, or unwarranted emails that are so commonly sent out on a daily basis.

Send emails to users who have opted to receive them – this will ensure that only people who are actually consenting to receive your emails, are getting them. Also, using branding in your “from” name will help people see who you are, where you are from, and what you could be looking to show them.

c. Make sure your emails are mobile friendly

Receiving emails that you may be interested in, but don’t load properly is a huge letdown and usually are just deleted right then and there. No one wants to look at an email with photos or pages that won’t load. Some statistics show that people tend to check their email via their mobile app 3x more than from their computers (Google). Wow, Local Marketing shows that users are also 52% less likely to do business with a company that has bad mobile accessibility.

d. Creating an A/B Test

Creating an A/B test will help you narrow down the smaller details that you may be contemplating as you are getting the hang of email campaigns. Whether it be choosing to eliminate certain words or phrases from your subject lines, or maybe you want to add emojis to make your campaign more playful. Sending out an A/B test will help you gauge which version your users like best, and what you should aim to use moving forward.

e. Keeping your language engaging and interesting

When sending emails to your group of recipients, you should be writing to them like they are a friend or family. You want them to feel important and you want them to be sucked in by how you address them from the get-go. Starting emails with words like “Hey you! How’s it going today?” or “I know, this week has been a long one, what kind of plans do you have for your weekend?”. Using phrases like these are more personal and makes them feel like you are writing directly to them.

By incorporating these few tips, you will have a much better chance at maintaining a high open ratex and leading that into higher conversion rates, which in turn will lead to more success and revenue for your company.

3. Forward Rate

Forward Rates are when an email recipient forwards or shares the email that was sent out to them, this calculates the forward rate. This also includes when a recipient shares the desired email content to social media.

Tracking your forward rate is essential when it comes to business newsletters or content that is informational. The goal of sending these types of forums out to users is to get them to spread the word. In turn, having a high forward rate means that more people are viewing your content, and they are finding it engaging enough to want to share it with their friends or family.

{insert photo of forward rate calculation]

4. Bounce Rate

When talking about Email Marketing, a bounce rate is when an email comes back as undeliverable. This can happen for a multitude of different reasons, but usually, this is caused by the email address being incomplete or incorrect.

If you have a high bounce rate, the first thing to do is to start analyzing why your emails are bouncing. There are two different kinds of “bounce” categories: Soft bounces and hard bounces. Both result in emails not being delivered to the recipient’s inbox, however, one is more workable than the other.

Soft Bounces

A soft bounce is usually indicative of a temporary roadblock, preventing the recipient from receiving the email. Whether this be an email service provider being out of order or down, or maybe the email message itself was too large. In most cases, the ESP (Email Service Provider) will continue to attempt to deliver the email for a few days.

If the emails continue to bounce and are never delivered, then they are classified as:

Hard Bounces

A hard bounce means there is a reason that is not a fluke, or temporary, that is preventing your email campaigns from being delivered. Once you determine the Hard bounce email addresses, they should be removed from your email list and placed in what is called the cleaned category of your email subscriber list. This separates them from your active subscriber list that has successfully delivered emails only.

email marketing

Typically, a hard bounce is determined to be one of three things:

1. A Domain name that no longer exists

2. An email address that doesn’t exist or;

3. The email server has everything blocked.

Hard bounces should be avoided whenever possible, so making sure to identify which recipients are triggering this to occur, and getting them moved to another list is imperative to the success of your email marketing campaigns.

How to Prevent High Bounce Rates

The undeniable truth is that no matter what you do, there will always be a bounce rate metric to be tracked when looking at your business KPIs. The goal is to figure out what your “Bad” bounce rate is, so you can help improve upon it.

Take a look at the history of the recipient’s email address and deliverability

Has this recipient not been receiving your emails from the start? Maybe something went wrong when they were signing up for your emails and they input it incorrectly. Whatever the case may be, you want to make sure that the form you use to collect emails is clean, clear, and is transparent about what they are signing up for.

Keep your email list updated

Regularly updating your email list will help you determine which emails are getting these hard bounces, vs. the ones who have a soft bounce once in a while. The main goal is updating your list and removing inactive recipients, ensuring the ones who actually open your emails are the only ones receiving them.

Don’t worry! This may cut down your email subscriber list – but remember when we talked about quality over quantity? This is where that comes in. You want quality subscribers who benefit the growth of your business.

Enabling Double Opt-Ins

Double opt in’s are where a subscriber has to confirm their email address in order to receive the email marketing campaigns. This sounds like a lot of work for the subscriber, however, this ensures that ONLY those who want to be added to your subscriber list will be. Again, going back to quality vs. quantity. This will result in lower email recipients in your email list, but it will result in a much lower bounce rate, and will likely improve your click-through rate, forward rate, etc.

Spam emails and how to avoid them

Avoiding the spammy terms that typically revolve around how to “get rich quick” or make “big money” are going to save you the hassle of having to remove subscribers who are increasing your bounce rate – most of the time, Spam filters are going to sort all of these types of emails right out of their inbox and they will never see the light of day.


“Distance makes the heart grow fonder” is a term that should NOT be used in email marketing. Email services will try to filter out emails that come from unfamiliar, so being consistent and on a regular cadence of sending these emails is extremely important to keep your emails out of the spam folder.

Not only will these emails occasionally get filtered out to Spam, but the recipient will also forget who these emails are coming from and may lose interest altogether.

There are no rules as to what you have to do in order to have a low bounce rate, but these tips will certainly benefit you and your business when it comes to keeping your bounce rate as low as possible.

5. How to Calculate An Email Click-Through Rate

A click-through rate is simply just that. It calculates the percentage of email recipients who click on links that are within an email marketing campaign. Unlike some other metrics, while measuring KPIs for email marketing, this is a rate you want to be as high as possible (in most cases). This will show that users and subscribers are clicking on your links, taking them to your websites, and they are performing actions to help boost engagement.

calculating CTR

How to Improve Your Email Click-through Rate

Email CTRs (Click through rates) tell a story about how your subscribers are receiving and interacting with your email marketing campaigns.

Click-through rates are a big deal, especially for marketers who are involved with nonprofit campaigns as it helps see how your audience is receiving the email marketing campaigns being sent out. Having engaging and interactive layouts and visuals, as well as subject lines that really grab their attention is key to success when looking at click-through rates. The trick here is that you have to play around with different formulations of what to include, and what not to include, and see what works best for your audience.

Click-through rates and open rates are very similar in how they work and what drives them to be higher and more successful for you. The following tips will help improve your click-through rates, and will also assist in driving your open rates.

Mobile Device Friendly

People live on their phones nowadays, so ensuring your emails are accessible on all mobile devices will help promote more engagement and will continue to drive your users to click on links within your emails.

Keeping these emails as clear, and uncluttered is important. As well as making sure you can view the email in its entirety while in mobile mode is going to be your best bet.

Call to Action – is it clear?

email cta

Sometimes users get lost in the language included in these emails. If you are after one main goal when sending out these email campaigns, make sure its clear.

Are you looking for a sign-up for an event or newsletter? Make it visible and brief as to what it’s for, and where to sign up. Looking for support in any other way? Make sure your link is visible and “in your face” so that the users can’t miss it, and don’t get lost in the rest of the email.

Buttons, Click Here!

Why not make it simple and include a button to lead users where they need to go? This eliminates having to copy and paste links, etc. You want it to be as easy as possible for the end goal to be reached.

Including buttons is so versatile, too. You can have a button lead your users to a FAQ page, or an “about me” page. Use it for whatever you are looking to have as your main point for the email campaign that you are sending out.

Mix it up

Don’t be afraid to try new things. It’s important to be consistent with your cadence of emails, but you don’t always have to use the same material. Experimenting with your content, layout, subject lines, etc. will help you narrow down what works, and it also will keep your reliable subscribers on the edge of their seats. Complacency is something you want to avoid when it comes to your content.

Changing certain aspects of your content in emails will help keep things interesting, while not veering away from the main points of your email subscriptions. Change can be scary, but in this case, it’s a good thing to give a try!

6. Unsubscribe Rates and How To Calculate Them

This is the rate of recipients who unsubscribe from the emails delivered from your company. In order for this to count as your Unsubscribe rate, they have to open the email and then click unsubscribe.

Keeping track of your unsubscribe rates will help you to avoid having a high bounce rate as well, as the users who no longer wish to be included in your subscriber list, will have the ability to unsubscribe themselves, and that metric will no longer be included in your bounce rate to count against you.

What is a good/bad Unsubscribe Rate?

email unsubscribe rate

Based on research done by Mailchimp, Benchmark, and GetResponse, it has been determined that an email unsubscribe rate between 1-2% is classified as a “good” unsubscribe rate.

As much as you would like to keep your unsubscribe button visible to all subscribers so they have the ability to remove themselves from a list if desired, you also want to make sure the content you are sending them is eye-catching and interesting enough to make them want to continue to receiving your emails, as well as going forward with any actions you are sending out.

Why do subscribers, unsubscribe?

There are other specific reasons why subscribers will unsubscribe, and trying to avoid these, although sometimes isn’t possible, is going to keep your unsubscribe rate at a manageable level.

Too many emails are being sent

Consistency is good, and a regular cadence is good. However, there is such a thing as too many emails. Subscribers don’t want to feel like they are being bombarded with emails, and the chances of your emails having completely new and different information at this send rate is highly unlikely.

Find a good cadence to send these email campaigns, this is where your trial and error comes into play. But once you find that sweet spot, you will have subscribers who will look forward to the days your emails come to their inbox.

Irrelevant emails

Going back to our Opt-in service, this will help maintain a subscriber list that is consenting and willing to receive your emails. People don’t want to read emails that don’t apply to them or that they don’t find at least a little interesting. Creating a foolproof way to make sure your subscriber list consists of only consenting subscribers will help you make sure your content is relevant to what they are looking for.

Who is this?

Receiving an email from someone you don’t know, doesn’t exactly make you want to open it. So, if you are not being recognized by your subscribers, that is a huge problem and will likely lead to a higher unsubscribe rate. Staying recognizable and transparent about who you are, where you are emailing from, and what kind of content you are sending out will help avoid this confusion, and keep those loyal subscribers!

Having your subscribers leave your lists can be tough to get past, after all, you are spending so much time and effort into these email marketing campaigns, and you want to share with the people who want to support you. The good news is, the ones who leave don’t come close to all of the loyal subscribers that stay – so don’t lose focus (or hope), just focus on keeping your loyal subscribers happy and you will see great success!

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