Email Marketing Metrics and KPIs (Conversion & Open Rates)

Apr 14, 2020 - By Skirmantas Venckus

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Before you send your next first email, stop for a while and think: “What is the goal of your email marketing?”

Is it to grow subscribers or to generate more leads? Is it converting more existing leads into consumers?

No matter what you decide, you next must find out which metrics you will need to track to understand how you’re progressing.

It’s easy to get lost in the enormous email marketing world if you don’t follow the right directions. Email marketing KPIs are like “leading pointers” that help you create better email marketing campaigns. They lead you and show what precisely you should be doing to increase your chances of reaching your goals.

To recognize key metrics, we analyzed more than 120 million emails which are over 50 thousand email campaigns.

The analysis was conducted to determine which metrics must be important for B2B and B2C sectors, regardless of whether they are products or services.

Let’s start by determining the leading email marketing metrics for your business goals.

1. Open Rate Metric

The open rate is simply the percentage of email receivers who opened a specific email.

Most email marketers are still crazy about optimizing their email subject lines for higher open rates even though this can impact more opens, although it’s better to be focused on optimizing clickthrough rates.

To be honest, the open rate metrics are actually very misleading for several reasons. An email is counted as “opened” if the subscriber also receives the images inserted in that newsletter. This means that even if subscribers opened the email, they wouldn’t be included in your open rate analytics.

It makes these numbers a mistaken and misleading metric for marketers. You can get benefit from an open rate as a KPI if you use these numbers as a comparative measurement. For example, if you examine the open rates of this week’s email to last week’s email. Then it might give you some useful insight.

Comparing the results of 2018 and 2020 we can see that the average open rate increased by 3,2%. Also, the average rate increased by 0,97%.

Actually, only 10% of the respondents who opened an email clicked on the email’s content.

Open rate by device:

Nowadays, most people use mobile phones to check their messages, although the Desktop users’ open rate is still very high. That’s because a lot of office workers use a desktop to check their emails, to answer their clients, suppliers, service contractors.

2. Clickthrough Rate

The definition of clickthrough rate (CTR) is also simple and easy to understand. It shows how many recipients clicked on specific links in your email. This metric lets marketers easily to calculate performance for every single email they send and check how it changes over time.

Clickthrough rate is a very valuable metric for all email marketers to track, as it gives direct insight into how many people are engaging with content and interested in learning more about the company’s brand or offer.


As we can see from the table, the most clicked attachment of the email is File/Link to invoice or payment. It’s five times more popular by clicks from other categories. In 2018 the number of clicks increased by 3,6%, but it decreased by 0,4% from 2019. Also, this year increased the percentage of clicks for Link to resource (cases, blog posts and etc.). The least popular attachment to click is a Link to offer/promotion. That’s why it is better to make an offer or promotion look like a blog post or a poll because people click more on it than plain promotions.

3. Unsubscribe Rate

This means the percentage of people who unsubscribe from the send list after opening a delivered email.

As well to the open rate, the unsubscribe rate isn’t a very reliable number. Most of consumers who are exhausted from receiving email messages from hundreds of brands won’t bother going through the formal unsubscribe process. They’ll just stop opening or clicking on email newsletters.

That’s another great reason to follow a much more effective measure of subscribers’ engagement by clickthrough rates. You can watch unengaged subscribers there, so you can consider removing them from your email list.


As you can see from the data people take care more of their email and leave it for important messages.

Sending emails only on Tuesday might help to see a higher open rate result, but you could also see more unsubscribes.

It means that marketing professionals can stop searching for “best day” and focus on metrics: A/B testing is the best way to discover the day your target audience is most engaged.

4. Conversion Rate

The percentage of email recipients who not only clicked on a link, but also completed the wanted action, such as purchasing a product.

How to calculate it? (A number of people who completed the desired action ÷ Number of total emails delivered) * 100.

After an email subscriber clicked through email, the next purpose is typically to get them to convert, to take the action that an email has asked them to take.

Specifically, if your goal is to generate leads, conversion rate performance is incredibly important as it shows how successful newsletters are at actually generating leads.


As we can see from the table the best conversion rate comes from Abandoned Cart reminders, in the second place is Follow-Up/Reminders. This year those numbers improved, Abandoned Cart increased by 1,5% and Follow-Up/Reminders by 0,9%.

We can see a tendency that more and more people like to keep their mailbox clean. That’s why they subscribe only to websites that give them useful and valuable content or offer a product or service they need. 

Also, during this analysis, we found out that 28% of people have more than one mailbox. One mailbox is for important emails like job emails, shops, blogs to which they subscribe, and another is used as a trash folder. For example, an email for the trial program, free ebook and etc.

Inactive customer conversion is getting lower because people start using more and more tools in this case, if they cancel the subscription, it would be difficult to take the account back.

Abandoned Cart data is getting lower because businesses communicate more with their customers who abandoned their carts and offer new things to them. For example, a discount, gift, or cheaper delivery if they finish their order.

5. Bounce Rate

You probably heard the “bounce rate” from the SEO part if you have a website. Although the bounce rate in email marketing means the percentage of total emails sent that could not be successfully delivered to the recipient’s email. Bounces are divided into “hard” bounces and “soft” bounces.

Soft bounces

Soft bounces result from a temporary problem with an email address, for example, a full inbox or a problem with the recipient’s server. Usually, these problems are easy to solve, or they can solve by themselves. The recipient’s server may retain these emails for delivery once the problem clears up, or you may even try sending your email message to soft bounces one more time.

Hard bounces

Hard bounces affect an invalid or non-existent email address, and these emails will never be delivered. You should instantly remove hard bounce email addresses from your subscriber’s list because internet service providers (ISPs) use bounce rates as one of the key indicators to determine a sender’s reputation.

While a bounce rate doesn’t link directly to the company’s goals, you should still look at it to ensure there are no difficult issues with your emails. Also, having too many hard bounces can make your company look like a spammer in the eyes of an ISP.


As we can see from the results this increased soft bounce and hard bounce numbers. That can be because more and more companies decides to use email marketing in their marketing strategy, but do not segment they target audience yet.

We also recommend to read our guide – Hard bounce vs Soft bounce in Emails (with Expert tips).

6. List Growth Rate

It means the valuation at which your email list is growing.

Aside from the call-to-action metrics, for example, CTR or conversion rates, you’ll also have to keep track of your list growth and loss. Of course, you should aim to grow your list to increase your reach, grow your audience, and position in the industry to become a leader.

7. Email Sharing/Forwarding Rate

To count your success, also check the percentage of email subscribers who clicked on a “share” button to post an email to a social network like Facebook, Instagram Linkedin, etc., and/or who clicked on a “forward” button.

This is how you generate new subscribers to the newsletter. Encourage your subscribers to share your email to a friend or colleague if they think the content is valuable, and start tracking how many new people you can add to your database this way.

Keep a following on your sharing rates to find which types of articles get shared the most, and use that insight when you plan email campaigns shortly.

As we can see from the results, numbers changed drastically this year. Since 2018 the number increased by 5,5%.

People who forward their emails usually work with B2B because they get an email that should be sent to another colleague. Usually, those emails are received by company administrators, who forward the letter to the responsible person.

The most common emails which are forwarded/shared in the B2B sector:

  • for office rent;
  • new supplier offer;
  • offer to participate in the event (to improve team competence).

The most common emails which are forwarded/shared in the B2C sector:

  • special offers for goods/services (when the content of the letter indicates a price, a specific product, or service);
  • special promo code (the promotional code is indicated in the letter, its value, and in which store it can be applied);
  • an interesting article (when the letter contains an introduction to the article, the pitch of the article, and a link).

8. Overall ROI

To increase your revenue, follow the overall investment return for your email campaigns. Shortly, total revenue is divided by spend.

As with every marketing channel, you should be able to manage the overall ROI of your email advertising. If you haven’t still, set up and assign different values to various types of leads based on their possibility to generate revenue for your company.

  • How many of each of these types of leads did you generate via email marketing?
  • How does this translate to potential revenue? 
  • Actual revenue?

The ROI increased x41 times this year, which means that if you will spend 1$ returns 41$ revenue. That is a huge improvement from the last year (3 times more). In statistics, you can see the growth trend every year. Therefore, the growth of email marketing can be expected in 2020 as well.

The ROI was calculated by considering the cost of all the tools required for the work and the cost of content preparation (letter writing and design work).

These characteristics of analysis will help the company’s sales team see reports on how valuable email marketing is as a channel that drives real, actual results.

Our goal today was to give you the most valuable explanation of email marketing KPIs as we possibly could. Now that you know the essential email marketing metrics start testing and optimizing your email campaigns for better results.

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