Ten Email Marketing Terms to Measure and Master

These days, marketing meetings can seem like a contest to see who knows more metric acronyms – KPIs, CTR, GA, UX, CPC – Ugh, I quit. But metrics and industry standards are how we measure success, compare standards, and report progress to the higher-ups.

As you prepare this quarter’s email marketing plan, here’s a refresher on the key metrics you need to know, measure, and test. Heck, you might even learn a new acronym.

1.  Deliverability Rates

Deliverability Rate

What it really means for you

The deliverability rate is a metric that tells you how healthy your email list and service are. There is a myriad of reasons emails don’t make it into the box where they belong: sometimes an email is misrecorded, sometimes folks change names, jobs, or email addresses and sometimes a mail server could reject your message as spam.

How do you stack up?

The normal undeliverable rate is between 1 – 2%.

Best Practices for Success

Regularly clean your list
Want to make sure you keep your deliverability rate low? Us too! Regularly cleaning your list is key. Remove bad email addresses that have bounced several times. Being proactive can help keep this rate low.

Don’t spam
Using spammy words or sending your messages to folks who didn’t opt in can really hurt your deliverability rate.

Be wary when buying or renting list
When purchasing or renting a list from another party, be careful. Make sure to scrub your list before importing it into your system. If you skip this scrubbing step, you will ultimately get a high number of bounces.

Scale it back when they aren’t opening
If your audience isn’t opening or interacting with your emails, it might be time to scale back the number you are sending them. If you don’t, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can see that as poor list management and possible treat you as a spammer.

Watch Out For…

Bad lists
Be careful when purchasing or renting lists. Scrubbing is essential to help combat high deliverability rates.

Human Error
Give your bounces a once-over to look for common misspellings or missing letters.  Take some time to look at your domains. Many times your emails will bounce because you typed gnail.con instead of gmail.com. Those are the easiest to find and fix.

2. Spam Score

What it really means for you

The SPAM score is calculated based on your sending history, count of spam complaints from your domain, etc. Keeping this score low helps keep your messages out of the junk folder.

How do you stack up?

Only one source reported this. Hubspot says every 1/1000 is acceptable as SPAM.

Best Practices for Success

Regularly clean your list
Regularly cleaning your list. Remove bad email addresses that have bounced several times. Being proactive can help keep this rate low.

Avoid spam words
Wild claims and exclamation points have a new permanent home – SPAM folders. If you don’t want to end up in no man’s land, our headlines and body text need to avoid spam words like the plague.

If you need a SPAM refresh, try Comm100’s list of Spam words.

Watch Out For…

Not checking your score
Using a service like Mail Tester can score your IP address on a scale from 1-10. The service is free and easy to use. It is important to check this score often and make changes to your practices if necessary to keep the score low.

3. Device Categories

There are three main device types:

  • Desktop – Windows PC or Mac devices; software such as Outlook,  Gmail, Lotus Notes, Apple Mail, or Thunderbird are included.
  • Webmail – web browser such as Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, etc.
  • Mobile – smartphones or tablets such iPhone, Android, etc.

What it really means for you

Since your email is viewed on all of these devices, platforms, and browsers, you have to ensure designs are optimized for every presentation.

Breakdown of the average open rate by category:

  • Desktop – 16%
  • Webmail – 28%
  • Mobile – 55%

Best Practices for Success

Design optimization test
Want to make sure that your emails look all fine and dandy? There are lots of great paid services, but if you are on a budget, start with PutsMail’s testing tool.

Hmm… now that’s interesting
Mobile email dominates in email engagement – that’s kind of expected, but over the course of the year it has more volatility in open rates than webmail and desktop opens. By how much? A whopping +26% in comparison to the -9% and -18% changes in webmail and desktop, respectively.

4. Unsubscribe Rate

What it really means for you

The unsubscribe rate can mean a lot. It can show signs of disinterest in your messaging, poor content, or too many communications.

How do you stack up?

The normal unsubscribe rate is 0.23%

Best Practices for Success

Understand your audience
You need to understand your audience and cater to their interests. What is most important to them? Once you have a grasp of this, you can shape your content to be more impactful, clickable, and keep your audience coming back for more.

Hold your horses on sending
Don’t send too often. Most likely, your audience does not want to hear from you every day, so don’t flood them will multiple emails in 24 hours. Be strategic about the content you create and send only the most interesting. There is no magic number of newsletters that you must send each month. Instead, find what works best for your organization and what your subscribers respond to best.

Watch Out For…

Not doing a retention analysis
Unsubscribes are not all bad, you know. In fact, they can provide you with some valuable data and potentially point you to where things are going wrong. Did people drop off after you changed the design of your email? Maybe switch it back to the original. Are subscribers bailing soon after sign up? You might not be meeting what you promised to deliver. Evaluate and learn from these unsubscribes. This can help you prevent future drop off.

5. Opt-in Rate

What it really means for you
The opt-in rate reflects the interest level of a subscriber in your brand, product, or services

How do you stack up?
The normal opt-in rate varies but tends to range between 1 – 5%.

Best Practices for Success

Prominent calls-to-action
There are several ways you can put the focus on your sign up form. One popular method is through using a pop-up tool. The visitor will have no choice but to see what you offer before closing the box. However, this is a tool you have to be wary with and use sparingly. Only allow the pop-up to appear once as you don’t want to annoy your visitor.

Show and offer value
Incentivise visitors to subscribe to your communications. Show your value by highlighting the big benefit to subscribe or by maybe offering a discount on your product or service. Seemingly small changes like this can have a huge impact on your opt-in rate.

Watch Out For…

Not testing
You created a pop-up with an intriguing headline and simple form. All done right? Wrong. You have only just begun my friend. How can you measure the success of your form if you have nothing to compare it to? Keep trying out different messaging, wording, and placement. Find what works best for your site and go with it. Continue to test to improve your opt-in rate.

6. Bounce Rate

There are two types of bounces:

  1. Hard bounce – permanent delivery failure due to an outdated domain, address no longer in use, etc.
  2. Soft bounce – temporary delivery failure due to an issue with the receiving server, a full recipient mailbox, etc.

What it really means for you

The bounce rate is important because it affects your sending reputation and will degrade the deliverability of future newsletter campaigns

How do you stack up?

The industry standard bounce rate is 2%

Best Practices for Success

Requiring permission for opt-in
The legal part of email might not be as sexy but it is necessary to keep on sending. Be sure you comply with CAN-SPAM policies and your lists are built with subscriber permission.

Send consistently
To keep your bounce rates low, send frequently and consistently. This will keep your list from going stale and allow you to catch engagement and spam issues earlier rather than later. Don’t flood your subscribers.

Watch Out For…

Using free domain send-from addresses
Email addresses such as Gmail and Hotmail can fail DMARC checks. When using these address, your email could automatically bounce or be sent to the junk folder. Sending from a business domain will help keep your communications out of the spam filters.

7. Call-to-Action Conversion

What it really means for you

The call-to-action conversion is a key statistic to ensure you are meeting organizational goals. Often, this is the best statistic for determining ROI.

How do you stack up?

There are really no average rates as this is very individualized to the campaign purpose.

Best Practices for Success

All in the design
The call-to-action is most often a button. Getting a subscriber to click this button can be tricky but there are some cool design and copy tricks to help you out with this. As far as design goes, make the button stand out. You can do this by surrounding the button with white space, appropriately sizing, and placement of the button. As far as the copy, stay away from friction words such as ‘download’, ‘buy’, ‘order’, or ‘submit’. Instead, focus on the benefit.

Watch Out For…

Not setting a call-to-action conversion
Many senders don’t create a campaign with a specific goal in mind. Email can be difficult to tie down to an ROI but it is necessary to make the case for why your organization or you are creating beautiful and time-consuming campaigns. By creating campaigns with a goal in mind, you are taking steps in the right direction already. 😉

8. Click Through Rate – CTR

What it really means for you
The click-through rate is a measure of success for your email campaigns. A higher click-through rate means a more engaged audience. This ratio is crucial for measuring if the content you are delivering in your email marketing is of interest to your audience. A great click-through rate drives traffic to your website.

How do you stack up?
The average click-through rate is 2.69%.

Best Practices for Success

Send Frequency
How often you send messages can have a significant impact on your click-through rate. While you don’t want to drown your audience with emails, you also don’t want to be forgotten. Finding this balance is key to improving your click-through rate.

Responsive Design
More than half of emails are opened on mobile devices. You need to make it easy to click on every platform. Make sure every link in your email resolves to a mobile-perfect page. Ensuring your campaign is fluid and easy-to-read on every platform is critical for success.

Relevancy
You could write the best post in the world and it could still flop with your audience. Why? Because it wasn’t relevant to your subscribers. You need to understand your audience and cater to their interests. What is most important to them? Use your content category data and your click-throughs to find some great content ideas. Once you have a grasp on what your audience loves to read, you can shape your content to be more impactful and clickable.

Watch Out For…

Clickbait titles and subject lines
Clickbait is essentially dramatizing the deliverability of your content. It looks spammy. You can spot clickbait titles or subject lines typically when WRITTEN IN ALL CAPS, with trigger words like ‘free’ or ‘selling fast’, or when followed by overuse of exclamation points!!!!!!! Users find this behavior dishonest and it can really hurt your brand.

Generic subject lines
On the opposite end of the spectrum, don’t be generic. Spice it up by adding the subscriber name into the subject line or by personalizing your content offerings. People like to feel like people. Be human in your interactions.

9. Open Rate – OR

What it really means for you

The open rate is one of the most commonly-used measures of success for email marketers. It can signify how strong your relationship is with your audience.

However, open rate is one of the most unreliable and misleading metrics.

This rate is not useless. Just use it understanding that it does not give you a full picture view into your audience engagement.

How do you stack up?

The average open rate is 22.83%.

Best Practices for Success

Get personal
Want higher opens? Customize the subject lines for each subscriber. By simply adding a name or a point of interest in the subject line can dramatically increase open rates. Personalized subject lines are 22.2% more likely to be opened.

Be human
Nobody likes READING ALL CAPS or being flooded with exclamation marks(!!!) so don’t do it in your subject lines. Be simple, authentic, and human. Sure you can have fun or add a little pop to increase opens but be truthful about the delivery of the email.

Watch Out For…

Image Accounting
An email is only counted as opened if all embedded images are received. However, many email clients have image-blockers. The means your numbers could be higher than your system is reporting.

Not Testing
No two audiences are the same so find out what works best by testing what works best. Conducting a few A/B tests can dramatically increase open rates.

10. Engagement 🙂

What it really means for you

Engagement is essentially your relationship with your audience. The stronger your relationship, the higher the likelihood of purchasing a product, using a service, or reading content from your brand.

How do you stack up?

Cerkl partners’ average Engagement Rate is 76%.

Best Practices for Success

Understand your audience
You need to understand your audience and cater to their interests. What is most important to them? Once you have a grasp of this, you can shape your content to be more impactful, clickable, and keep your audience coming back for more.

Using platforms like Cerkl 😉
Your audience are all people with unique interests, so knowing their unique interests on an individual level can be pretty tricky. Cerkl does the heavy lifting of personalization for you.

rachel@cerkl.com

Director of Product, Cerkl

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