How to Read Email Campaign Reports, Part 1

How to Read Email Campaign Reports, Part 1

In Part 1 of this two-part series, we address what to make of open and click-through rates in your email campaigns. For Part 2, on other email campaign metrics such as links clicked and unsubscribes, click here.

For most small businesses, just getting an email campaign out the door is difficult enough. But what about doing a post-analysis to determine if your campaign was successful and what you should do next? We’ve all used open and click-through-rates to quickly gauge the success of our campaigns, but do we really know how they performed? Or even how to read the report properly? Every campaign and every audience is different, so there is no gold standard for email success; however, properly reading and analyzing your email campaign reports will help you determine what’s working and what isn’t. How do you do that? Without further delay…

Open Rates

Open rates really reflect one key metric: how good your subject lines were. Sure, there are other factors that affect email opens, such as when the email was sent, but ultimately, good subject lines should produce better open rates. As marketers, we typically want to compare our performance to the competition’s. Luckily, Mailchimp published a set of email benchmarks by industry. Typically, email platforms provide two open numbers:

  • Unique Opens - how many different recipients opened the email at least once- useful for determining reach
  • Total Opens - the total number of times the email was opened, even if the same person opened it multiple times- useful for determining if your content was so appealing the customer kept coming back

The open percentage doesn’t always tell the full story. For example, what was the list size? Was your list segmented to customers for whom the message was relevant? Taking a look at the actual number of opens is important too. A 50% open rate on an email to two people doesn’t tell you much.

Click Rates

Click-through rates, also know as CTRs, are helpful in gauging the quality of your email’s content - particularly your calls-to-action. CTRs are calculated using a simple formula:

CTR = (# unique clicks) / (# unique opens) * 100

In layman’s terms, the CTR shows what percentage of recipients who opened the email subsequently clicked on something within it. Unlike open rates, which pretty much have one contributing factor, the forces that affect email clicks are a bit more complex. For example, what was the purpose of your email? If it was strictly informational, the odds that someone would click through to your website are pretty low. Did you include calls-to-action, and if so, were they enticing enough and above the fold? Was the value prop to drive the recipient to your website strong enough? What about the design? If your goal is to drive recipients to your website and you’ve tried to design email campaigns that encourage that behavior, then CTRs are good indicators of whether or not the design and content of your campaigns are effective.

Can't wait for Part 2? Get in touch with Longstreet here.


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