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What your email metrics are actually telling you

Your email metrics hold a little more information than you may think. Learn how to decipher these using these tips.

A dashboard of dials on an older aeroplane indicating various metrics controlling a flight

Your email metrics hold a little more information than you may think.

We're all familiar with monitoring open rates, click rates, and email metrics around getting to the inbox.

Have you, however, stopped and thought about what else your email metrics may be telling you?

 There are many ways to use email metrics beyond simply assessing what they tell you at face value. 

Today we explore a few key analytics you might be tracking, and how you can learn more about your email strategy and audience using these insights.

Metric 1: Open Rates

Open rates have been part of much controversy over the past few years.

Many email marketers have forgone even tracking open rates, for various reasons such as reliability and how accurate open rates actually are.

That said, open rates can tell you more than merely who opened your emails (or didn't).

Here are three underutilised ways you can use open rates to your advantage in your email strategy:

  1. Determine if your emails are reaching the inbox. If you experience a sudden and major dip in open rates, you may have wound up in the junk folder, which indicates deliverability issues. Remember, email delivery and deliverability rates determine different things. Your emails may be delivered, but they could be landing in the junk folder.  

  2. Determine if your email frequency is too high or irregular. If you notice emails are no longer being opened, especially if you're sending at a high frequency, or inversely, irregularly, then you'll need to act on this. Open rates partly indicate engagement to the inbox providers, so you'll want to monitor your email frequency and cadence over time to get this right. If you don't, you'll likely begin impacting your ability to reach the inbox in the future, so monitor this carefully.  

  3. Determine if you're getting machine clicks. In short, Machine opens are the automated opening of emails by email clients such as Apple's Mail Privacy Policy and other software providers. Emails are essentially "pre-checked" before being served to the reader, which means open rates can be skewed. The good news is that you can look for spikes in open rates within a minute or two of your campaign landing to determine the level of machine opens you're getting, helping you get a true indication of who is actually opening your emails.

See, open rates can be useful in other ways too!

Metric 2: Click Rates

Email clicks are often seen as one of the truest measures of email success.

When you send an email, you want your recipient to take some form of action, don't you?

Most often this is determined by the clicks they take in your campaigns.

Clicks rates can also tell you a story and are a great way to improve your email strategy.

Why? Here are three ways that might help:

  1. Determine if your emails are possibly too long. If you receive a bunch of clicks at the beginning of your email and none at the end, your email might be too long. It's often difficult to determine if a reader has consumed your entire email, so monitoring actions taken toward the end of your campaign is a great way to find out. Yes, your best content should be at the top, but your supporting calls-to-action placed strategically at the bottom could help guide your email designs in future.  

  • Determine if the link placement is correct. Should you place your CTA above the fold in your campaigns? Should it be below the fold? Should it be elsewhere? Here's where using tricks like strategic A/B tests could help. Place your link in various parts of your email (adhering to a solid visual hierarchy, of course), and watch carefully where most of your clicks take place This takes time and often needs to be campaign-specific, but acts as a great insight for future emails you'll create. 

  • Determine what readers are NOT interested in. This can often be forgotten, especially if you're selling products or seeking multiple actions in a single email. Over time, if you notice certain types of content are losing clicks, it might be time to change or drop that content. Clicks are great to learn what folks are interested in but don't forget that a lack of action is also a great indicator of interest over time.

Perhaps it's time to track clicks in a few different ways moving forward.

A desk with pens and a ruler over a hand drawn graph with an ascending curved line

Metric 3: Unsubscribe Rates

Unsubscribes feel personal, don't they?

You put immense time and effort into growing your audience, only to have your reader(s) leave your list.

The reality is that you want subscribers who actually want to be part of your audience. 

That said, unsubscribes can also be a great indicator to determine these three things: 

  1. Determine if there are misaligned expectations Recipients might have subscribed expecting a different type of content than what they've received. You want to monitor the content they signed up for and ensure your emails align with those expectations. No one likes being misled, especially when inbox attention is precious.  

  2. Determine if you're segmenting poorly Blasting generic emails to a broad audience can lead to high unsubscribe rates. There's a reason that email experts espouse segmentation. If you get this right, you'll relate to your audience and hold their interest for longer. Failing to do this does the opposite, so make your audience feel special by catering for their needs and they'll stay on your list.  

  3. Determine if you're using cheap incentives If you're using incentives that seem great and you don't follow through with ongoing value, folks will inevitably unsubscribe from your emails. It's pretty obvious, but using an incentive merely to capture subscribers without a plan to offer them ongoing value is a fallacy. People want immediate value, with continued value over time.  

See how unsubscribes can be valuable too?

Metric 4: Bounce Rates

Bounces are something email senders try to avoid at all costs. They can, however, be a good indicator of your email health.

Bounced emails happen. The goal is to mitigate the volume of bounces you get over time, which keeps your email reputation healthy, and your email metrics valuable.

Bounces are also a great way to determine a few things, such as these three insights:

  1. What are soft bounces telling me? A soft bounce refers to an email that gets as far as your recipient’s mail server but bounces back undelivered before it gets into the inbox. One common reason may be that your recipient's inbox might be full.  This is a sign that you need to begin separating these subscribers from your regular list and clean those out if you experience soft bounces over and over again (though some ESPs like TouchBasePro do this for you in the background).  

  2. What are hard bounces telling me? Hard bounces are indicators that your email will no longer be delivered to that recipient. These need careful monitoring due to the impact these can have on your sending reputation. If you're experiencing hard bounces at increasing rates, you'll need to look at the quality of your email list. If you're gaining spam sign-ups from your sign-up forms or you're attracting false sign-ups, hard bounces will start happening more consistently, so monitor this over time.  

  3. What do bounced domains tell me? Beyond looking at your hard and soft bounces, you'll also glean a lot from the domains your emails might be failing to deliver to. This is a common measure in the B2B email space. Suppose you're experiencing specific business domains that bounce. In that case, you might need to be white-listed to be able to deliver to such addresses, which is something many email senders neglect to monitor.  

Bounces are bad but can be prevented using sound email practices.

What your email metrics are actually telling you is far more than you think

Understanding the layers of your email metrics will you give an edge and help you adapt your email strategy accordingly.

Don't underestimate the impact of using these metrics to guide your strategic email efforts.

Your audience will also appreciate your efforts. What your email metrics are actually telling you is far more than you may have realised.

Before you go! You'll need an audience to send emails to before you begin. Learn the fastest ways to grow your email list today by using the tried and tested Email Database Growth Playbook.

Click here or on the image below to get your FREE copy👇

Preview of The Ultimate Database Growth Guide for Email Marketing by Email Expert Africa

Want to become an email expert? Get our expert email guide today! Click here to find out more

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