The Email Analytics You Forgot to Measure

Open rate and click rate are only two of six important elements of productive email analytics dashboards

When you think of the term “email analytics” there are two metrics you probably think of first: open rate and click rate.

If those are the only two you can think of off the top of your head, it’s probably because most email service providers use these primary metrics in most of their dashboards.

Your open rate is the percentage of users who opened an email from you. This calculation is based on the number of people who opened your email, divided by the number of people who you sent it to. So if you sent 10,000 emails and 1,000 opened your email, you have a 10% open rate. Find out how to increase your open rates. Also, this.

Your click rate is the percentage of users who opened your email, and then clicked on a hyperlink inside of it. So if 1,000 people opened your email, and 100 clicked a link, you have a 10% click rate. Find out how to increase click rates and how video can increase click-through rates even more.

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The other email analytics

Relying on open rate and click rate as your prime indicator of success, is like asking your five-year old if you’re going to get that big promotion.

Open rates and click rates are indicative of good headlines, and effective calls to action. But hopefully you’re also measuring these other more than fundamental metrics:

Revenue per email subscriber

How much is each email subscriber worth to you? How much can you be willing to spend, in order to gain a new email subscriber?

If he had been a consultant to our industry, the legendary Peter Drucker probably would have said something pithy like “measure your email revenue right, and measure the right email revenue.” In any Mequoda System, revenue produced by email newsletters is measured differently from the way that print publishers have traditionally measured the lifetime value of a subscriber.

To calculate revenue per subscriber take your total email revenue and divide it by your average number of email subscribers.

If you can average $50 in revenue per 1,000 emails sent to your email newsletter subscribers, and your contact frequency is daily (five mails per week), you’ll generate an average of five cents per subscriber every time you mail. At five times a week, that amounts to 25 cents per week or about $13 per year for every email newsletter subscriber.

So, if your average value per subscriber is $13, and you have 100,000 subscribers, your Mequoda publishing system is grossing $1.3 million annually.

Site-wide email capture rate (we also refer to them as email conversion rates)

How many casual visitors to your site are you converting into email subscribers?

Any website analytics tool can measure your unique monthly visitors, but projecting optimal email capture rate (ECR) requires a calculation.

Most publishers we’ve studied are only implementing one basic email capture on their site. Thus, they are only seeing a 0.1 to 0.2% web-to-email conversion rate.

Using 3C Zone Architecture, you will get the highest ECR. It requires you to align each of your blog categories with a freemium. So when someone is reading about how to wallpaper their living room, they’re getting an offer for a free eBook on the most popular wallpaper colors, not an eBook on how to clean the grout in their bathroom. In exchange for the eBook, they give you their email address and subscribe to your email newsletter.

To get your site-wide email capture rate, divide the total number of new email subscribers you acquired via your website in one month by the total number of unique visitors (minus visits from email subscribers) you received in that month—4% is a great number.

If you can double your ECR, you will double the size of your subscriber file over five years (or any fixed period).

Email opt-out rate

Are you serving your email audience? What causes them to opt-out?

As publishers, we focus on our email list more so than possibly any other online business. Content is our specialty, and this is why we depend on email to keep our readers engaged and actively involved in our business. This is also why it’s very important to track our opt-out rate, to effectively watch what our users respond to—and to change, when necessary.

To get your email opt-out rate metric—both voluntary and bounced—divide your number of opt-outs by the average number of email subscribers for a given period.

We’re big fans of what we call “Management by Exception”, which means regularly reviewing a standard set of daily, weekly, or monthly metric reports, looking to see if something is above average, way above average, or way below average.

The idea is to manage for the things that are coming out differently than they have in the past or than you thought they would. These five metrics above will help alert you to any problems or opportunities you may have in your online business.

Email retention rate

Using these three numbers, you can determine your email retention rate, that is, what percentage of your email subscribers choose to stay subscribed.

To find out, use this calculation for a month’s worth of data to determine your monthly email retention rate:

(# of subscribers – bounces – unsubscribes)/# of subscribers

Your email bounce rate: When an email “bounces” it’s returned back to you. The number of bounces you receive is an indication of how clean your list is, and if you continue to send emails to addresses that bounce back, you can get blacklisted and be unable to send emails to that domain at all. For a domain like Gmail, you could be missing out on a huge percentage of your list.

Your email unsubscribe rate: Initial emails typically have a higher unsubscribe rate than ongoing campaigns. This isn’t surprising to see, especially when it comes to content-based businesses operating a content marketing model. Often times, recipients will register for a free report or a coupon and after they receive the content they want, they opt out of the email list. People unsubscribe from email lists when they see an email arrive day after day and realize they haven’t opened one in a long time. Sometimes they go on a mass unsubscribing binge and eliminate you along with tens of other email newsletters.

Feeling like the open and click rates are small potatoes up against these email analytics metrics? That’s not entirely true, in fact, they all work together. Better open rates lead to better click through rates, which lead to higher revenues per subscriber, lower opt-out rates and higher email retention rates. Of course, this is all dependent on your email capture rate, because they need to opt into your email list first.

Are there any other email metrics you measure, that I haven’t included?


    Thanks for the article. Do you recommend a specific site-wide application to measure these measurable analytics?


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