How to track the success of your email marketing

You’ve read up on best practices, designed a firecracker email marketing campaign, and sent it out into the world. Nice!

But now what?

Sure, you could move on to planning your next campaign, but if you continue to do the same things you’ve always done, you’ll continue to see the same results. Instead, track the success of your current email marketing campaign to learn how effective it was and how you can do better in the future.

But to truly understand how well your marketing campaign worked, you need to know what metrics are the most informative for your business as well as for each specific campaign.

Keep an eye on these 7 metrics and you’ll know exactly how your emails translate into increased revenue and engagement in order to bolster your next campaign:

1. Delivery rate

The first metric to track is the delivery rates of your email campaign, or the number of emails that are actually reaching your subscribers’ inboxes, as opposed to getting stuck in spam filters or returned to you as undeliverable. Deliverability is a key factor in whether or not your marketing campaign is effective because no one can engage with your emails or your brand if they’re not getting the emails.

Only 28% of emails ever reach their intended inboxes. In order to see the best results possible from your email campaign, your emails have to be reaching the most inboxes possible. To improve your delivery rates, focus on building a quality list: always opt for quality over quantity.

The higher the percentage of people who are opening and engaging with your emails, the better your deliverability rates will be, because email providers will see that your emails are trustworthy and relevant to their users.

By purging the old and inactive users from your subscriber list, you’ll not only dump the deadweight that is bringing your delivery rates down, but you’ll also see better inbox placement and thus more engagement from the subscribers you retain.

Purging your list might mean an initial drop in subscribers, but ultimately you’ll wind up with higher-quality subscribers that are more engaged.

2. Open rate

Are people deleting your emails? Leaving them to rot or moving them straight to the trash? Once you know your emails are hitting your subscribers’ inboxes, it’s important to gauge whether or not they’re actually opening them.

If you find that your open rates are low, don’t panic. There are plenty of ways to increase your opens. Consider devoting more time and energy into crafting an effective subject line. Your subscribers receive a lot of emails and crafting a catchy subject line is a great way to increase opens.

In fact, subject lines that include a subscriber’s name can increase opens by 26%. Just be sure that your subject line informs your subscriber what they can learn by opening your email. Don’t sacrifice clarity for catchy.

Another way to increase your opens is to change the email address in your “From” line—just be sure to warn your subscribers before you do. Studies show that sending an email from a person’s name can increase opens as well.

The more relevant content you send, the better your chances are of becoming an email that subscribers look forward to, so don’t underestimate the power of consistently sending quality content. The more value and benefits your emails have to your subscribers’ lives, the more likely they are to open an email, read it, and share it.

3. Click-through rate

70% of marketers say their click-through rate is the most important metric to track the success of an email campaign. The click-through rate is the amount of people who clicked on links in your email to visit your website. If your subscribers opened your emails, but you aren’t seeing the action on your website you hoped for, you likely have a low click-through rate.

Once people open your emails, they’ll only spend an average of 11 seconds reading it. Providing a clear and direct CTA that stands out from the rest of your email is a great way to grab your reader’s attention, even in as few as 11 seconds. Toast found that a singular CTA with a clearly stated function improved their click-through rates by 371% and increased sales by 1617%.

The CTA button in this email from The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation is impossible to miss and far more likely to improve click-through rates and increase engagement:


Click-through rates offer insight into whether or not you’re sending the right content to the right people. Low click-through rates show that you’ve got engaged subscribers opening your emails, but they aren’t connecting with any of the content. If they continue to open your emails and see nothing that interests them, eventually they’ll stop opening your emails and unsubscribe. Or worse, they could mark your email as spam.

Studying your click-through rates can teach you a lot about your subscribers. For instance, are some subscribers clicking through to a certain type of content that others aren’t? You can then break your list down into segments in order to send more of the content people are engaging with.

4. List growth rate

Another metric that illuminates the success of your email campaign is the growth rate of your list. In fact, it’s normal to lose about 25% of your contacts yearly. Unsubscribes are natural and, honestly, unavoidable, but you want to make sure people unsubscribe from your list at a healthy rate and that your list of quality subscribers is still growing overall.

People tend to leave jobs and abandon old email accounts; this means that your subscriber list is always decaying. That’s why growing your list should be a priority: if your list isn’t growing, it’s dying. Growing your list is imperative to expanding your reach, especially if you want to maintain a high amount of engaged subscribers—and who doesn’t want that?

Make it easy for currently engaged subscribers to share your content with the people they know in order to expand your reach and let subscribers do some of the work for you. Another great idea is to prompt visitors to sign up for your emails at various points across your website as opposed to just one. Consider offering incentives to new subscribers to make your newsletter more attractive. There are plenty of ways to boost subscribers, just be sure that you are seeking quality subscribers and building your list organically.

Keeping an eye on the number of people who unsubscribe from your list informs you how well your content resonates with your subscribers. If your unsubscribe rates are too high then it’s time to re-evaluate your content and/or your strategy.

5. Sharing rate

Another way to judge how well your content is resonating with your subscribers is to track your sharing rates. If your subscribers really like your content, they’ll share with their friends or colleagues, other people they believe will be interested in what you have to offer.

Sharing generates more leads for you to nurture and engage, leads you might not have reached on your own or who might be more willing to engage on the recommendation of a friend. You have far better results in generating new leads and are more likely to find a receptive audience when your current subscribers reach out to their inner circle on your behalf.

Plus, when your existing customers share your emails, they become ambassadors for your brand and invest in your success. These are the kind of engaged customers every brand wants, so keeping an eye on this demographic can help you determine what content gets them involved and sharing and what doesn’t, helping you replicate these results in your next email campaign.

You might be surprised by what you find and refine your strategy. People who share your emails are also a great population to use for your A/B testing whenever the need arises.

Check out how GasBuddy included a primary CTA to encourage sharing:

Source: Really Good Emails


If you want to increase the amount of subscribers who are sharing your emails with friends, include a link to share with friends, whether it’s your primary CTA or a link at the top or bottom of your email. Also consider offering subscribers a platform to tell their story in order to get people sharing.

6. Conversion rate

Obviously, an important metric to watch is the conversion rate or the percent of subscribers who complete your desired action. After all, you’re sending an email marketing campaign with a goal in mind and tracking the conversion allows you to see what percent of subscribers actually accomplished that goal. Did your subscribers do what you set out for them to do? Did your marketing campaign do what you wanted it to?

Though oftentimes the desired action is directly related to sales, it doesn’t have to be. The goal for your email marketing campaign could be converting new leads into subscribers or getting your subscribers to download a free ebook, start a free trial, or offer feedback.

Freshbooks includes a free download as well as an option to learn more, both options can be seen as a conversion:


The conversion rate shows you how well you are utilizing email marketing to accomplish your goals. If your subscribers aren’t converting, you know you have room to improve. For instance, if your open rates and click-throughs are solid, but your conversion rate is low, you might have a problem on your website. Be sure that your website, as well as your emails, are optimized for conversion: it should be as easy as possible for your subscribers to perform the desired action.

7. Overall ROI

Again, a great way to track the effectiveness of an email campaign is to look at how much money you’re bringing in for every dollar you invested in the campaign.

By determining the amount of revenue minus the cost of the campaign and dividing by the total money invested, you can see just how much money your email marketing campaign brought in.Depending on the primary CTA of your email campaign, ROI might not be the clearest indicator of how successful your email campaign. 

For instance, if your aim was to increase free downloads, your campaign won’t yield that much money from the CTA. However, that doesn’t mean these customers aren’t making purchases elsewhere.

You might have to tweak the formula or calculate the overall ROI a year later in order to determine what the actual return is, whatever makes the most sense for your company, your industry, and your specific campaign. Even so, it’s still important to see firsthand how well email marketing brings in real, tangible results for your company.

Wrap up

If you want to get the most out of your email marketing campaign, you need to know what your emails actually accomplished. After all, 59% of B2B marketers believe email is their most effective channel for revenue generation, but only if you’re using it well.

The best way to track your success is to watch these 7 metrics and you’ll know exactly how your emails have done and how you can improve your next campaign:

  • Delivery rates

  • Bounce rates

  • Open rates

  • Click through rates

  • List growth rates

  • Sharing rates

  • Conversion rates

  • Overall ROI

Of course, just one of these metrics alone can’t tell you the full story. Just because you have great open rates doesn’t mean you’re converting your subscribers; likewise, just because you have great conversion rates doesn’t mean your list is healthy and growing.

Whichever of these metrics are the most important for your company, email marketing is too effective to miss tapping into its full potential for your business. Tracking the success of your current campaign is essential to refining your email marketing strategy, ultimately boosting engagement and increasing revenue.

About the Author

Grace Miller is a content writer with a passion for grammar and the public library. When she isn't writing for Emma, she's probably writing fiction, reading another thriller, or listening to a true crime podcast.

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