The Most Important Email Marketing KPIs You Should Track and Why

What key performance indicators (KPIs) should you be tracking to measure the success of your email marketing campaigns and learn the changes you should make to get better results? That’s a common question I get asked often, but knowing what KPIs to track is just the first step when it comes to measuring email marketing success. You also need to understand why you’re tracking those KPIs, and how you can use the data to make informed decisions.

To make sense of all of this, let’s take a look at some of the most important email marketing KPIs you should track and why, particularly when you’re sending email marketing campaigns to cannabis and hemp license holders using the Cannabis Media License Database.

Measure How Well Your Subject Line Worked

Email marketers use open rate to track how well a campaign’s subject line worked with the audience who received the message. 

You can calculate this KPI by dividing the number of unique opens by the number of email messages sent and multiply the result by 100. So if you sent a campaign to 100 recipients and 10 different people opened it, the open rate would be 10% (10/100 = 0.01 and 0.01x100 = 10%).

If your open rate is low, then one or more things are happening:

  • The subject line was irrelevant to some recipients. To fix this problem, segment your list into niche audiences and send personalized subject lines that are relevant to each audience and promise something of interest (i.e., perceived value) inside if they take the time to open the message. 
  • The subject line just wasn’t good. To solve this problem, consider using Co-Schedule’s free email subject line testing tool and learn how to write subject lines that are likely to get more opens.

Measure How Well Your Message Content and Call-to-Action Worked

Use the click-to-open rate (CTOR) metric to determine how well the content and call-to-action (CTA) inside your message worked with the recipients who actually opened the message and viewed the content. 

To calculate this number, divide the number of unique clicks by the number of unique opens and multiply the result by 100. So if you sent a campaign to 100 recipients, 10 people opened it, and two different people clicked on a link inside the message, the CTOR would be 2% (2/10 = 0.2 and 0.2x100 = 20%).

If your CTOR is low, then the content and CTA inside the message didn’t resonate with the recipients who saw them. Either they thought the content was irrelevant to them or they simply weren’t motivated to click based on the copywriting or the offer (i.e., what they would get by taking the time to click a link).

Just like improving your open rate, you can improve your CTOR by segmenting your lists into smaller niche audiences and personalizing the content within each message to make it as relevant, valuable, and motivational to the specific audience or recipients as possible.

Measure How Well Your Email Campaign Worked Overall

Click-through rate (CTR) provides an overall measurement of how well your email marketing campaign performed. It includes all aspects of the campaign, including the list, subject line, content, call-to-action, and offer. 

To calculate CTR, divide the total number of unique clicks by the total number of people the campaign was delivered to and multiply the result by 100. If you sent a campaign to 100 recipients and two of them clicked a link, then the CTR is 2% (2/100 – 0.02 and 0.02x100 = 2%).

When you take steps to improve your list segmentation and personalize your subject lines, content, and offers to each specific recipient audience, the CTR will improve.

Measure How Well Your Message Worked Based on Your Goal

Every email marketing campaign you send should have a specific goal – an action that you want people to take after reading the message. Usually, this action is to click on a specific link in your email message so you can track it. Therefore, the way you measure how well a campaign performed based on the action taken is by tracking clicks on the goal CTA link in the message content. You can refer to this as your Click-to-Goal Rate. 

For example, if your goal was to get people to click on a link in your email campaign to visit a sales page on your website, then that link is the most important one in your entire message. It’s your CTA link, and it’s recommended that you use a button for that link rather than hyperlinked text. Research shows, buttons typically perform better for CTAs than hyperlinked text.  

To calculate the click-to-goal rate, divide the number of unique clicks on the specific CTA button/link by the number of unique opens and multiply the result by 100. So if you sent a campaign to 100 people, 10 people opened the message, and one person clicked on the CTA button/link, then the click-to-goal rate would be 1% (1/10 = 0.1 and 0.1x100 = 1%).

Keep in mind, the goal of your campaign is an action. Once a recipient takes that action (e.g., clicks the CTA link), the goal is completed, but you may have a conversion beyond that action that you want to track, such as whether or not someone made a purchase, requested a demo, registered for a webinar, downloaded a report, and so on (not every conversion has to be a sale). 

For example, if a CTA link leads to a form on your website for recipients to contact you, make sure you use a unique form specifically for the email campaign so you know which form submissions actually came from your email campaign versus other sources. 

On the other hand, if the CTA link leads to a product sales page where recipients can click and buy, make sure you use UTM codes and Google Analytics to track those sales back to your email campaign or provide a special code recipients should provide when they make a purchase (like a coupon code, but it’s a tracking code instead) so you know it came as a result of your email campaign.

Measure How Irrelevant Your Campaign Was

This KPI is the unsubscribe rate for your email marketing campaign, and it’s calculated by dividing the total number of recipients who unsubscribe from your list after receiving your email campaign by the total number of people the message was delivered to and multiplying the result by 100. So if you sent your message to 100 people and 1 person unsubscribed, your unsubscribe rate would be 1% (1/100 = 0.01 and 0.01x100 = 1%). 

Here’s a hint – you want this metric to be very low (1% or lower). If the unsubscribe rate is high, it means you’re not taking the time to segment your list into niche audiences and send them highly relevant, personalized content. If they’re not happy with your email message, which most often happens when recipients don’t think a message is relevant or useful to them, they’ll unsubscribe.

Keep in mind, you want people who don’t want your email messages to unsubscribe, because their negative engagement or lack of engagement with your messages in the future (e.g., not opening your messages, deleting without opening, marking them as spam, or blocking you as a sender) can do much more harm to the deliverability of your future messages than good (i.e., whether email service providers like Google, Outlook, Apple Mail, and others send them to the inbox or spam/junk folder). You never want anyone to block you as a sender or flag your messages as spam, so make sure it’s easy for them to unsubscribe! 

However, you still want to keep the unsubscribe rate low so you don’t lose opportunities to connect with the right people. The unsubscribe rate gives you critical information. You could be losing people who you actually want to talk to – people who could be interested in your content – so don’t make them think they have to unsubscribe because you’re sending them irrelevant messages. Instead, segment your lists and send personalized content rather than sending the same generic content to everyone.

Key Takeaways about Email Marketing KPIs

If you send email marketing campaigns through the Cannabiz Media License Database, open rate, CTR, CTOR, and unsubscribe rate are all tracked for you and available in your account in the performance data section of each campaign. Keep in mind, it’s best to wait at least two or three days after you send an email marketing campaign (a week is even better) before you evaluate this KPI to ensure recipients have a chance to engage with the message.

Once you start using these KPIs to understand what’s working in your email marketing investments and what needs to be improved, your results will get better and better. The key to success is to develop a strategy, track results diligently, test, and keep trying. Your audience will tell you what they want based on their engagement behaviors, so listen to them and your results will improve!

At the same time, always segment your lists into niche audiences and personalize the subject lines, content, and calls-to-action in your messages so they’re as relevant as possible to each recipient. Truly, that is the #1 way to get better email marketing results.

Want to learn how you can connect with cannabis and hemp license holders using the Cannabiz Media License Database for sales and marketing, including email marketing? Schedule a demo and see how a subscription can help you reach your goals.

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