How are your email campaigns performing? Would you like them to perform better? There are several key metrics you should be tracking regularly to know the effectiveness of your email campaigns. Once you have a handle on your data, you can make changes to improve the emails you send to subscribers.

Note: Each industry has its own benchmarks for these metrics, so be sure to compare yours accordingly.

1. Open Rate

The open rate is the percentage of successfully delivered campaigns opened by recipients.

Why It’s Important: An email campaign has little value if it is not being opened and read by anyone.

Ways to Improve Your Open Rate:

  • Write better subject lines. If your open rate is low, your subject line may not be enticing enough for your subscribers to open. A/B test different subject lines and be sure they accurately describe what your campaign is about.
  • Narrow your audience. Every subscriber you have shouldn’t necessarily be getting every email. If you sell clothes for men and women and you have a sale on women’s winter jackets, segment your audience so your email campaign only gets sent to women who live in colder climates.
  • Adjust how often you send. Sending emails too frequently can deter recipients from opening them, but not sending enough can cause recipients to lose interest. It’s best to test to see what works best for your audience. Also trying out different days of the week and send times can be beneficial.

2. Click Rate

man checking email on phone

The click rate is the percentage of successfully delivered campaigns that registered at least one click. (The click rate pertains to clicks that happen within the actual email, not the click it takes to open the email…that’s the open rate.)

Why It’s Important: The click rate shows how valuable your content is to your subscribers by indicating how many people engage with it. Getting engagement (clicks) is usually the goal of most email campaigns, so tracking this metric is very important.

Ways to Improve Your Click Rate:

  • Use descriptive link text. If users don’t know where a link is going, chances are they won’t click it. Make sure your link text is clear, descriptive, and enticing to users.
  • A/B test how links are displayed. The way links are displayed (CTA buttons, pictures, text, etc.), as well as their location and prevalence throughout an email, can affect click rate. Test different setups to see what works best for your audience.

3. Bounce Rate

The bounce rate is the percentage of emails that were not able to be delivered to your recipients.

There are two types of bounces: soft bounces and hard bounces.

  • Soft bounces are typically emails that aren’t able to be delivered for a temporary reason—a recipient’s inbox is full, an email file is too large, or the email server for the recipient is down.
  • Hard bounces, on the other hand, usually indicate a permanent reason an email cannot be delivered—the email address is incorrect, the domain name doesn’t exist, or the recipient’s email server has blocked the email from being delivered.

Why It’s Important: The bounce rate helps indicate the quality of your contacts.

Ways to Improve Your Bounce Rate:

  • Abide by spam laws. A large bounce rate can be the sign of a spammer and can affect your reputation as a sender. Make sure you are complying with spam laws and that subscribers have willingly signed up for your email list.
  • Require a double opt-in. If you are getting a lot of spam signups, you may want to set up a double opt-in so subscribers must confirm they signed up for your list before they are added.

4. Abuse Rate

The abuse rate (or complaint rate) is the percentage of successfully delivered campaigns that were marked as spam.

Why It’s Important: Email service providers want to ensure that senders are not spamming their contacts. If your spam rate is high, your email service provider may suspend or block your account.

Ways to Decrease Abuse Rate:

  • Do not purchase or use purchased email lists. Make sure your contacts have given you permission to email them. Most email service providers prohibit sending to purchased lists.
  • Send better content. Be sure you are sending quality, relevant content to your subscribers.
  • Let subscribers unsubscribe. Include an unsubscribe link in all emails.
  • Change your send frequency. Sending too many emails can cause people to mark them as spam. Also, sending too infrequently can have the same effect.

5. Unsubscribe Rate

The percentage of people who receive an email campaign and unsubscribe from future emails is the unsubscribe rate.

Why It’s Important: Unsubscribes can indicate that contacts are not interested in your content. If you have a high unsubscribe rate, your email service provider may suspend or block your account.

Ways to Decrease Unsubscribe Rate:

  • Let subscribers know what they’ll be getting when they sign up. Content that is not what subscribers were expecting can contribute to a high unsubscribe rate.
  • Change who you are sending to and how often. Let people opt out of certain types of emails and segment your list so you are only sending relevant content to your subscribers. You can also poll your contacts to see if they want fewer or more emails, or try testing different send frequencies.
  • Be transparent. Make sure your “from” name is recognizable, display your permission reminder (which lets users know how they signed up), and include your postal address.

6. Conversion Rate

The conversion rate is the percentage of email recipients who completed the desired action. For example, people that purchased a product from an email.

Why It’s Important: Conversion rates help you determine the success of your email campaigns.

Ways to Increase Conversion Rate:

  • Test, test, test! Use tracking data to look for areas of improvement, then make changes to different elements of your email campaign and/or website and test them to find the best solution. Check out our recent blog posts on conversion tracking and form design to learn more about optimizing for conversions.
  • Add incentives. Offers like coupons, bonus material, and free downloads can entice users to convert.


Tracking the metrics outlined above and adjusting your email strategy can greatly improve the success of your email campaigns. Test out some new techniques and track your progress to see their effectiveness.