Sifting through analytics is the only way to gauge the success of an email marketing campaign. Though it’s just numbers, it can signify reader interest, the potential for conversion, and reflection on your strategy. Multiple factors go into making a successful email campaign, including great written and visual content alongside an intelligent approach.
Open rate is the most widely known metric to analyze the effectiveness of email marketing – so what is a number to strive for? Also, are there other equally valuable metrics? Untangle the deceptively complex nature of great email campaigns to create success for your company’s future.
What Is Open Rate and Why Does It Matter?
Why is open rate such an important metric and what is the industry benchmark? The open rate is the number of people who open the email. If you send an email to 100 people and 20 people open it, that campaign’s open rate is 20%. This only counts unique instances. Multiple opens do not factor into the equation.
It also does not take reading time into account. Those who open the email for one second versus five minutes will weigh equally toward the open rate metric.
It also does not count bounced emails. If the sender receives an immediate response from the email server stating the receiver did not obtain the email, it bounced. This means the server rejected it for several reasons, including a mistype of the email address or the receiver deleting that account. Emails also bounce if the inbox is full, there’s an auto-responder, or the recipient blocked specific emails. The number of bounced emails is subtracted from the total to accurately represent the open rate.
With this in mind, the current industry benchmark for a quality open rate is around 21.33% across all industries. The full range is closer to 16–28%, with open rates greater for non-profits and sports entities as opposed to manufacturing or generic daily deals emails.
This shows which emails receive higher open rates: Those with a perceived sense of urgency. A government email is more likely to be opened than an ad for an e-commerce business because readers have different motivators compelling them. Based on these numbers, shopping-related emails are far less likely to receive opens than sectors closely tied to more personal subjects like social issues or health and well-being.
Therefore, the open rate is an essential metric because businesses want customers to feel a genuine drive to read their communications. Many include attempts to follow up on leads or encourage repeated conversions. What could change their mind if recipients aren’t encouraged to open emails to receive those calls to action?
What Factors Can Drive Understanding?
Many factors play into successful email marketing campaigns and high open rates. Manipulating the campaign to optimize analytics could save a struggling startup, leading them into an era of new sales and returning customers. It could also cause trouble if it’s operated poorly – a situation influenced by:
- Insufficient budgets
- Ineffective business models
- Outdated or misplaced priorities
- Lack of care in analyzing the target market
Every email campaign must have a superb foundation and a strategy to follow suit. Goals must be practical in their consideration of available resources. Increasing open rates directly relates to this because those who use software-as-a-service (SaaS) to send emails compared to solopreneurs doing everything by hand will ultimately receive more data and have more opportunities to send emails since part of the process is automated.
After this, A/B testing can occur – also known as split testing. This lets the team send multiple variations of an email template to see what performs better. Email subject lines with the recipient’s name may receive more opens, for example. Enticing words like “free” or “limited time” instills curiosity.
Other factors like device type can influence open rate and email marketing benchmarks. Are people more likely to open an email on a laptop than on their phone? People open 63% of their emails on a mobile device. If marketers don’t optimize those emails for mobile usage, the chances of an immediate deletion are higher.
This is why teams must consider and test email campaigns – from the length of subject lines to the quality of graphics within the email – to optimize for every format. To have high open rates and overall metrics, every facet needs equal consideration unless metrics tell a team to place their priorities elsewhere.
How Can You Analyze an Email Audience?
Marketing teams must exercise patience when analyzing audiences. It requires a lot of trial and error and experimentation to see what works with your target. However, there are ways to minimize that time. The key during this phase is to pay attention more to the process than to the numbers – the statistics at the beginning of an email campaign are not reflective of how it will develop in time.
The top priority should be to analyze the subscribers. What does an audience look like? One of the ways to put your subscribers into categories is through segmentation, which explores customers’ priorities and zeroes in on the actions marketers need to take. Here are the top ways to use segmentation to analyze your audience:
- Demographic: This analyzes the audience based on age, location, or education level. These can refine the subject matter of emails or the reading level of the copy.
- Firmographic: This is analyzing demographic information on a company level. If the subscriber base is primarily business-to-business (B2B), you can examine them based on company size or revenue.
- Psychographic: This takes more individual qualities into account, such as lifestyle habits or personalities. It requires more personal research to obtain accurate analytics, such as surveying or interviewing email subscribers, but it can provide priceless insight.
- Behavioral: This accentuates the behavioral triggers of the audience. How do they interact with websites versus emails? What signifies these differences, and how can they translate across mediums so they are equally effective?
After looking at these numbers, it’s time to make the content relevant. This refinement will take time and a backlog of email analytics to inform future marketing decisions. Relevant copywriting and graphics may not seem like they could increase the open rate since you have to open the email to get to them – but they do.
How Can You Increase Email Open Rates?
Suppose someone opens your company’s emails for the first time and sees a high-quality template with brand-identifiable imagery and copywriting with clarity and intent. In that case, they will continue to open them in the future. Everything from on-point brand colors and an easy-to-follow template to complete, yet reasonable, copy length all matters.
When time passes and your company has countless emails in its history, it’s time to get into more nitty-gritty statistics.
To increase average email open rates, it’s vital to analyze the best time to send emails. Do most of your readers check their emails on their lunch breaks around noon? Maybe sending emails before then is ideal so they can see them immediately at the top of their inbox.
Then, you can decide how frequently emails should be sent out based on this time frame. If they open emails around noon, how often would they perform this action each week or month?
It’s possible this may not be an easy question to puzzle out, especially if the email list isn’t curated. Perhaps you’ve analyzed the audience and there is too much variety or too many emails bouncing back. Refine the list by removing inactive members as necessary. Having continually refreshed and updated lists with more recent subscribers and frequent clickers can help statistics stay high and allow you to market to more people who care.
To solidify that customer base in the first place, subject lines must be catchy but not resemble spam. More often than not, they should be personalized to autofill the receiver’s name, making it feel more attentive. They should be short yet descriptive and avoid using too many decorative elements like special characters, punctuation, or emojis – this can come off looking like spam.
Are There More Important Benchmarks?
A high open rate is ideal, but what are some of the other statistics that can guide an email campaign to success? Are any of them more important for your business than the open rate?
It can be disheartening to see people unsubscribe from a mailing list. It can tell marketers if something is wrong with a specific email or if a subscriber has lost interest. It’s essential to keep an eye out for trends like this, as it can help teams identify what types of emails do not appeal to the audience or how long a subscriber will hang on until they get bored and leave.
See every unsubscribe as an opportunity for improvement and make it a goal to reduce that over time. Since the number can never be zero, aim for a low number. The average rate of unsubscribes is often less than 0.2% anyway. If the number exceeds this, that’s when more intentional action can take place.
Implement a prompt for those who unsubscribe to submit a reason. This can prove invaluable. Often, people do so because they are already inundated with too many promotional emails – it isn’t always personal.
If your company’s emails get semi-consistent spam reports, it’s time to reevaluate. There are plenty of reasons people report spam, including:
- They forgot they subscribed to the mailing list in the first place.
- They suspected spam because of suspicious formatting.
- They thought they had unsubscribed previously.
- They saw multiple emails from the same sender arrive in a short period.
Reduce the number of spam complaints by keeping careful watch over marketing teams and automation. Send test emails to internal staff to ensure the appearance doesn’t resemble spam and double-check that you only send emails once.
Click-Through Rate (CTR)
CTR sounds like an open rate, but it is slightly different. Click-through rate measures how many people reading emails click on internal links. How many people are enchanted enough by the copy to click the link to learn more or shop around? One way to secure a high CTR is to use embedded calls to action (CTAs) within the copy.
This can help marketers reach a coveted 7–10% CTR (although a more practical goal is around 2%). Encouraging readers to access more information or exclusive deals by clicking an external link will create more engaged readers.
This metric can be mysterious since it isn’t directly related to receiving and opening emails. Subscribers can sign up for a mailing list through countless avenues, including directly from the business website, Instagram stories, or business cards.
Because of the variety of avenues that can drive signups, the scope of the audience becomes more expansive. This could muddle advertising strategies slightly as demographics become more widespread. However, this provides an exciting opportunity for marketing teams to stretch their imaginations.
Arguably one of the most critical metrics in email marketing, conversion rates signify when an email subscriber becomes a paying brand customer. Whether requesting a consultation for a service or purchasing from a shop, following through with leads and converting customers is the goal of every marketing campaign.
However, it also may not be a priority for a given email campaign to convert. This could be left to text messaging or social media campaigns instead.
Boosting an Email Marketing Strategy
Now that you’re familiar with what a solid open rate looks like, you can generate ideas to improve it alongside other facets of your campaign. How can improving the open rate provide insight into the other improvements you can make to your comprehensive marketing strategy?
Analyzing a simple email template could reveal a company’s need to hone its brand tone or social media channel priorities. It could make a business more creative with its communications. No matter which doors analyzing your open rate unlocks, it will undoubtedly refine your marketing strategy for increased sales and engagement – and a more satisfied and loyal customer base.