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email marketing data - green measuring tape
Dec 13, 2023

Email marketing data to track and manage for success

Dayna Lang
Author Dayna Lang

Email marketers need to track critical data to make the most out of their marketing efforts and reach the broadest audience possible. Tracking this data also lets marketers create more effective communications. 

By looking critically at how users interact with the emails they send, marketers can see what imagery and communications have a positive impact and which content urges users to hit the unsubscribe button. 

Key email marketing data points

There are several different data points marketers can opt to track for email marketing optimization; choosing to follow all of them may be unnecessary (or impossible) for all teams. That’s why it’s important to understand what each data set reflects and those that matter most to your organization. 

Clickthrough rate (CTR) 

Clickthrough rate is one of the most important data points for marketers to track and understand. Almost all markets track CTRs, with a Hubspot survey of 190 markets showing that the majority ranked it as one of the top two metrics to follow when conducting email marketing campaigns.  

CTR is easy to access and understand; the metric lets marketers quickly see their overall email performance. Marketers can monitor their CTR over time to quickly see how many people are persuaded to further action by their messaging, and whether or not a change is needed. 

Open rate

Open rate is another critical and popular metric among marketers. In the same Hubspot survey,  31% of marketers listed open rate as one of their top two metrics – right behind CTR. Open rate is important because it tells marketers how their subject lines and email frequency impact their campaigns. 

One issue with open rate that marketers should consider is that it can be inaccurate. For instance, an email is only considered “opened” if the recipient has received the embedded images in the message.

Users with image-blocking turned on (as is likely with Outlook and Gmail) may not be counted. 

Conversion rate

Conversion rate is another commonly used email marketing data point. These metrics show marketers how many recipients take action after receiving an email. This action may be a purchase, but it could also be a download or a demo call depending on the call to action (CTA) included in the email. 

While conversion rate may be confused with clickthrough rate, it is different in that not everyone who clicks a link in an email will follow through with an action. For example, a CTA asks recipients to sign up for a webinar; the clickthrough rate is for anyone who clicks the link to the webinar signup, but a conversion refers to recipients who continue to register for the webinar. 

Properly tracking conversion rates requires the integration of web analytics into your email platform, which marketers can do easily by using unique URLs (such as Urchin Tracking Module – or UTMs) for email links so that they can be easily traced and integrated into one’s analytics platform. 

Bounce rate

Bounce rate lets marketers understand how many emails they’re sending are successfully delivered so that marketers remove incorrect email addresses from their lists and optimize their time and energy going forward. 

There are two kinds of bounce rates marketers track: soft and hard

Soft bounces are typically caused by a temporary problem with a valid email address – like a full email inbox or a server issue. Typically, these emails are successfully delivered after the issue is resolved. 

In contrast, hard bounces are unlikely to be resolved because they are the result of invalid email addresses. There are several reasons why an invalid email may make it into a marketer’s email list: the email address is incorrect, the account is closed, or it simply doesn’t exist. 

It is best to remove these email addresses from email lists because they are never going to result in a successful delivery. Not only that, but internet service providers (ISPs) also use bounce rates to determine a sender’s reputation, which can result in emails being sent directly into a user’s spam folder, hindering future email marketing efforts. 

Unsubscribe rate

Finally, marketers must pay attention to the unsubscribe rates of their email campaigns. This means understanding how many recipients unsubscribed from future emails immediately after receiving your message. 

Unsubscribe rates are essential for understanding the overall success of an email campaign, but also the health of your email list. If you have a high unsubscribe rate this may be because the content you’ve sent isn’t of interest to your recipients, or because the recipients whose emails you’ve gathered aren’t your right target audience. 

Understanding why users unsubscribe, and how many of them do, is critical for adjusting strategies for optimal impact. Like most forms of marketing, data is an essential tool for marketers.

Data provides necessary insight into successes and failures so marketers can optimize future work. It acts like a roadmap – guiding marketers to incremental, sustainable change.

Understanding which metrics are most important to your email campaign is the first step in optimizing future strategy


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