As we all know, email delivery is challenging in and of itself. However, once an email leaves your application, server, or mail client, you quickly encounter another obstacle: understanding what actually happens to that message. There are several different metrics that the average company should consider tracking in order to gain useful insight and produce educated business decisions.
In this post, we will cover a subset of the statistics that SendGrid tracks for its users and explain what each means—plus, we’ll cover other metrics you can measure with that data. The metrics featured here are mostly relevant to email marketing-focused messages. To learn more about bounce management, and how they’re handled at SendGrid, reference this article.
Email metrics you need to monitor
A request is an email sent and is reported in your SendGrid dashboard every time our servers get a “request” from your application or server to send an email to one of your customers.
“Delivered” seems pretty obvious, right? At a fundamental level, a delivery is recorded when a request to send an email results in an email being delivered to the end recipient. However, there is a little more to it. You could consider an email classified as “delivered” to mean that an ISP has accepted the email and said “OK, I’ll take this email off your hands.” However, “delivered” does not necessarily mean that your email is in the recipient’s inbox, and it could even mean that it was delivered to the spam box or completely dropped from their system after being accepted. Lastly, if an email is “delivered” you can be certain that it was not deferred by the ISP (“deferral” will be covered in Part 2 of this post).
3. Clicks & unique clicks
The “Clicks” statistic represents the total number of times your users have clicked on the various links within your emails. “Unique clicks” represents the number of unique individuals that have clicked the links in your emails. So, if a certain customer clicks the same link more than once, it will only be reported once in the “unique clicks” count.
4. Opens & unique opens
The concept explained above regarding clicks also applies to opens. An important thing to keep in mind when evaluating numbers around opens is that many email clients often do not load images by default. Therefore, a customer could potentially open your email, read it, and even click a link, without an open being reported. This is obviously not ideal, but as we advance in our tracking mechanisms, we should be able to gain greater accuracy in instances such as this.
In order to maintain compliance with CAN-SPAM laws, any email that is sent in bulk to a mass audience should include an unsubscribe link. SendGrid provides a “Subscription Tracking” app that automatically adds this link to your emails. When someone clicks that link within their email, they are added to your “unsubscribe” list. The next time you send to the address as part of your regular newsletter list, we will not attempt to send to email addresses that appear on this list. Sending to an address that has unsubscribed from your mailings can be detrimental to your reputation. Typically, transactional emails do not need to include unsubscribe links; however, marketing newsletters should always include one.
6. Conversion rates
A conversion expands on the click. During a conversion, not only did a recipient click on one of your links, they took a step further down the marketing funnel by handing over some sort of information. Conversions will vary depending on what you are offering in your email but some examples include:
- Filling out a form
- Downloading a whitepaper or eBook
- Downloading a promotional code or coupon
You should certainly be measuring conversions after each campaign to see what is working and what could be improved. Although your email service provider (ESP) probably won’t have this available to you out of the box, you can track this metric with a CRM. Or if you don’t use a CRM tool and if you are sending recipients to a landing page, you could measure this metric with a free tool such as Google Analytics.
7. Leads generated who turned into customers
You’ve done all this work to create targeted email campaigns with quality and engaging content. Don’t forget to take the next step and monitor who of those have done the deed and made a purchase. If you have freemium versions of your product or service, this would also count as a customer.
You don’t need a fancy CRM to track the leads-to-customer ratio either (although many automated versions exist for companies of all sizes these days).
Consider the email touch points that your email subscribers need to take to become a customer. If you keep providing additional value at each stop on the way, you will be more likely to persuade them to become a customer.
8. Email list growth
Finally, I want to call out your email list as a significant email metric. Without a growing and healthy list full of engaged users, the above metrics won’t matter or even exist. Closely monitor how much your email list grows over time.
Also keep track of those who unsubscribe from your emails. Was there a spike in unsubscribes after a certain campaign? That may signal email fatigue.
Your email list really brings your program full circle and illuminates the importance of the open rate as well. Make sure you are removing those from your list who haven’t opened an email in a few months. This is an inevitable part of any email program and happens to the most seasoned email marketers. Learn about more strategies for building your list by reading our How to Grow Your Email List guide.
Do more with your email metrics
Each of these email metrics is important to consider when evaluating the performance of your email campaigns. Overall campaign performance should essentially guide your decisions around customer communications, and a full picture is essential to making smart decisions.