KPIs of Email Marketing

Speaking about KPIs in Email Marketing, every marketer knows the topic and what to expect. Open rates, click rates, bounce rates and unsubscribe rates are a bunch of the well-known and established indicators. Why are we measuring email marketing still the same way as we did in the 90’s?

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The Bundesverband Digitale Wirtschaft (BVDW) represents the interests of companies in the field of interactive marketing and digital and interactive content. They decided to question the current email marketing KPI’s and established a joint study with Mapp that asked German marketers their opinion when it came to KPI’s and the importance of each single one. Our specific interest was to see how the developments in measurement technologies have influenced these KPIs.

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Read how these marketers rated the email marketing KPI’s from most important to least important:

1. Open Rates

41% of the marketers said that the open rate is still the most important KPI and that based on this KPI a success of an email campaign is measured.

Is that really the right way to measure a success of an email campaign? We’ve asked ourselves the same question especially with today’s technologies. What exactly is being measured when looking at open rates? When sending an email, an invisible image gets added automatically to your campaign. So, when a reader opens the email, the image is downloaded, and that download is recorded as an open for that specific campaign. That means, if a reader is not downloading the images of your campaign, no open can be tracked. Which makes us strongly doubt that email opens should be the most important email marketing KPI.

2. Click Rates

39% of the marketers are putting click rates as the most important email marketing KPI. Interesting, as the click rate can be measured more accurately compared to the open rate as the recipient is actively clicking on a link in the campaign. Measured in both HTML and text emails, click rates can provide marketers with a better understanding of what interests their recipients based on which links are clicked most frequently.

3. Delivery Rates

Delivery rate made it third with 26%. Calculated by dividing the number of emails delivered by the total volume of emails sent. The reason for this KPI taking the third place is obvious as each sender wants to know if the email has been delivered, which is crucial in order to allow the recipient to open or click.

4. Conversion Rates

In our opinion the most interesting KPI is the conversation rate. Surprisingly only 24% of the marketers confirmed that. Why should this be your most important KPI? After an email recipient has clicked through on your email, the next goal is typically to get them to convert on your offer -- in other words, to take the action that your email has asked them to take.

Let’s take a moment to recap

Does it make sense to focus just on one or two KPIs to define a success of an email campaign? Based on the experience, no, as a marketer you have to look on all available KPIs and weight them by what is important for your business success and where you can optimize the most to get even better results. Next to that, it is also important to have both a long and short term perspective.

There are more KPIs you should consider. For example, what about list growth? Aside from the call-to-action metrics (conversion rate), you'll also want to be keeping tabs on your list growth and loss. Of course, you should be aiming to grow your list in order to extend your reach, expand your audience, and position yourself as an industry thought leader.

Another interesting KPI might be the time a recipient is spending with in your email. This metric can be measured in the same way as the open rate. This helps you to identify how long a recipient is reading your email as by today you have only seconds to convince someone to do an action/purchase an article before the recipient has proceeded on their journey.

When your goal of your brand is to reach out to a wider audience you should be looking at the share rate. How often are your emails being forwarded? Why? Because this is how you generate new contacts. The folks on your email list are already in your database. So while conversion should be a primary focus, this doesn't help you to attract new leads. Encourage your readers to pass along your email to a friend or colleague if they found the content useful, and start tracking how many new people you can add to your database this way.

So what can we learn? 

It is important to always focus on the long tail and understand to read warnings in the correct way. Take immediate actions to avoid further losses. It is important to assess all your KPIs in order to assure success in your business and making sure to optimize for the ultimate results. The idea is to always look ahead and try to expand your audience. Keep in mind that your goals have to be set out from the beginning and then continue to measure your success along the way.

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