Understanding Email Metrics

At The Weinstein Organization, tracking and measuring our work is at the core of what we do. Which is one of the reasons why we love email—the metrics available for us to analyze are truly fascinating (yes, we admit to being data nerds). And what we can learn from email metrics is fundamental to the effectiveness of our clients’ email campaigns.

Following are some of the more commonly used email metric terms and their practical definitions:

Email Conversions: Whether driving a purchase or attempting to acquire a confirmation, email conversions are a measurement of your specific call-to-action. This metric tries to answer the question “How many specific actions were taken by the recipient as a direct result of this email?”

Email Delivered: This metric describes how many emails were actually delivered to the intended recipient’s mailbox provider without getting “bounced” or kicked back to you from a delivery error. But this is not a bulletproof measurement of success. Your email can still be spam filtered into a recipient’s junk mail folder where it will appear to the sender as being delivered. A good way to ensure higher delivery rates is to take the proper steps and perform email list hygiene, which will help keep your list current and accurate.

Total Opens: Measuring how many times your email was opened is more of a measurement of the strength of your subject line, but there are too many variables involved to make this a reliable correlation by itself. Total opens alone do not indicate a successful email campaign, as there can be false open reads when an email is loaded into the preview pane, or when clicked-on just prior to deletion. Open rates are not a reliable metric for success alone, but they can help you understand the success rate of your delivery.

Unique Opens: are a similar metric to total opens, but it eliminates duplicate opens (ex: multiple opens by the same recipient) and tries to answer the question, “how many unique individuals opened my email?” Again, there are too many variables to rely on Unique Opens: alone as a measurement of success.

Click-Throughs: This may tell you that your email has been intentionally opened, and even the likelihood that someone has read it. However, you have to look at which links were clicked before you can measure effectiveness. If your offer link was clicked then your email is more likely to be doing a good job. But if the unsubscribe link was clicked then you have an indication that your email was worse than ineffective—it may have lost you a customer. Many clients will applaud high click-through rates at face value, but they do so at the risk of ignoring their customers’ true intentions.

Email Forwards: Understanding how many of your recipients forwarded your email to someone else is an excellent measure of several things: readability, relevance, the strength of your offer, and the appeal of your campaign to your target audience. As always though, it still doesn’t tell you by itself if your email is effective—conversions give you a better read of that. But conversions and forwards taken together can tell a marketer that they have a potential viral campaign in the works that might garner exponential reach.

On their own, no single email metric should be used as a reliable indicator of the effectiveness of your email. Which is why at The Weinstein Organization we have the capabilities to measure our email campaigns from a wide range of metrics. When you look at all the metrics together you get the total picture of how effective your email is, where it can be improved, and what can be understood about your prospects and customers.