The 4 key metrics to a successful email

Vector illustration with a magnifying glass focusing on a pie chart, a graph line trending upwards, and other metrics symbols.

Measuring performance and refining your copy are at the heart of conversion copywriting. Which is why, now that you’ve written your high-performing email, there’s one last thing you need to do after you send it: measure how it performs.

Unfortunately, not all metrics are made equal. Vanity metrics like Facebook likes or Twitter followers rarely translate into ROI for your marketing department.

Which is why it’s important to know exactly which metrics to base your email performance assessment off of.

#1 – Open rate

As a conversion copywriter, I have mixed feelings about the open rate metric. It is a very useful metric, but too often it’s seen as the end goal by marketers, because it’s a relatively easy problem to solve (just write better subject lines).

But when the focus is on open rate, marketing departments spend hours working on and split testing subject lines, to the detriment of the rest of the email. Opens alone are not responsible for how successful an email is.

There are several other metrics that indicate success of a campaign better than just your open rate, especially if you’re looking to measure ROI, sales generated, or other bottom-line impacts.

That said, your open rate is important, because it has several larger implications for your marketing campaign. Opening an email is the first step in your email funnel.

If your readers aren’t taking that step, they’re as good as not in your funnel. Which means they can’t be converted into customers or have any other kind of meaningful reaction to your email marketing that impacts your bottom line.

So pay attention to your open rate, work diligently on your subject lines, but remember that there are several other metrics that should be optimized as well.

#2 – Reply rate

Writing to a dead list is an often fruitless and frustrating exercise that yields poor marketing results–which is why your reply rate actually matters. The reply rate is exactly what it sounds like: how many people replied to your email.

This is a particularly important metric when running outreach campaigns, but also for your email marketing in general because it indicates list engagement. And engagement is key to a healthy list.

A list that is not engaged may still open and read emails, but they don’t act on them. If you’re seeing regular comments and replies from readers this is a good sign that not only is your list healthy and engaged, but you’re creating content that your audience wants to see.

Do expect some negative comments mixed in with the good ones, but understand that moving someone to say something to you at all (whether positive or negative) is good thing. Copy Hackers has a great post about how an unconventional sales email skyrocketed their reply rate, and how to deal with those replies.

#3 – Clickthrough rate

Now that you know people are opening and reading your emails, you want to look at if they’re clicking through. Effective, high-converting emails are not written to get a reader to buy immediately, but to click on a link, making clickthrough rate the best metric for measuring how effective your emails really are.

That’s because they reflect how well you persuade your readers to click that link.

Low clickthrough rates can indicate problems in several areas — maybe the call to action wasn’t clear enough. Or your body copy wasn’t persuasive enough. Or maybe you weren’t sending your readers the right offer and they’re simply not interested. This last one is particularly likely if you haven’t segmented your list.

Segmentation is key to a high clickthrough rate (as well as engagement) as it lets you send offers and content only to those people who have indicated interest in them–which means they’re already more likely to clickthrough and convert.

#4 – Overall conversion rate

The difference between conversion rate and clickthrough rate can get a bit murky. Technically, since the goal of your email is to get a reader to click, your clickthrough rate could easily be considered your conversion rate for that email.

However, your overall conversion rate refers to the percentage of readers who opened your email, clicked through, and continued on to actually buy your product or sign up for your service (or any other conversion goal you set).

Tracking conversion from email open to purchase makes it easier to track the ROI of your email marketing program, because you know how many of those email readers turned into actual customers.

When you combine that with the average order size of your readers, you can directly link your email marketing program to specific revenue amounts, which is extremely valuable for your company.

In short, when looking at your emails, make sure you’re tracking metrics that help you understand how people are interacting with your emails, and that help you see how your email marketing program fits into your company’s revenue stream as a whole.

 

This article is Part 6 of ‘The Anatomy of a High-Converting Email’, a series on using conversion copywriting techniques to write high-performing emails. Read the previous installments in this series:

Katie Callaghan is a Sales Funnel Strategist and Conversion Copywriter helping growth-stage startups turn existing traffic into more customers, users, and revenue. You can find her at www.startupfunnelstrategist.com.

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