The Case for Email Marketing Metrics: Top 5 Best Practices

Email Marketing

Email matters more today than ever before. By the end of 2018, an estimated $500 billion in digital commerce revenue will be attributable to email marketing, reports Gartner. And if you are managing email marketing campaigns your CMO wants to know:

  • What impact did they make in terms of revenue?
  • Can you prove they achieved a return on investment?
  • How did they influence sales and opportunities?

These are the metrics that matter to the CMO and rest of the marketing team, and you’ll be expected to report on these metrics with each campaign you launch.

Fortunately, we created five best practices on email metrics to help you get the most out of your email marketing initiatives.

1. What You Should Measure and Track

It’s no secret that your CMO doesn’t really care about the open rate or click-through rate of your email campaigns. So, here’s a list of a few email metrics that will help to make you and your campaigns stand out:

  1. Engagement score: A standard way to measure the engagement of your emails over time and not just as an isolated standalone event
  1. First-touch (FT) attribution: This answers a simple business question, ‘which campaigns generated the most profitable new names (leads) into the database?’
  1. Multi-touch attribution: This answers a complicated business question, ‘which campaigns are most influential in moving people forward through the sales cycle over time?’

These metrics take the guesswork out of evaluating your marketing efforts and will help you to get the budget and resources you need to make email a core part of your strategic marketing plan.

2. Get Stakeholders to Buy-in Early

When planning strategically, make sure that all relevant stakeholders are involved and have buy-in from the beginning. This helps assure that everyone will be well aware of the benefits and limitations of the email marketing initiatives.

Best practices include:

  • Set expectations with all stakeholders
  • Determine the strategy, goals, and attribution model
  • Agree on what metrics will be looked at and when

Taking the time to get early buy-in from all stakeholders assures that everyone is on the same page and helps mitigate any surprises from lack of communication.

3. Test and Control

You’re ready to quickly launch your email marketing initiatives. That’s great, but take a breath before jumping in headfirst! Here’s why. Testing of the effectiveness of these initiatives is important. For example, you can create two to three separate messages and test them in a well-formed control group; and in doing so, you can understand the nuances of your message as well as your intended audience.

Tactical testing tips:

  • Examining contact frequency
  • What copy, tone, and length work
  • Testing on different subject lines
  • Including images, different call to actions, etc.

With a smaller, controlled test group, you’ll be able to scrutinize specific metrics to see what doesn’t work and what resonates with your audience.

4. Fine-Tune and Adjust

It’s imperative to use email metrics insights for the tactical as well as the strategic. If some metrics are indicating low effectiveness, you don’t always have to scrap the entire campaign. If possible, as covered in “Test and Control,” you can make a few tweaks here and there with your email marketing campaigns to better target your audience.

You’ll be surprised that a few fine-tuned measurements, done in small increments, may give the boost you’re looking for.

5. Plan for Future Success

Email metrics are about improving your ROI and not just proving your ROI. As covered, you want to get insights not only on what works but what works better. Be sure to design your email marketing programs to be measurable and then also apply the insights from previous measurements in the current cycle of planning.


Only 1/3 of CMOs say ROI of total marketing spend is a key performance indicator, reports Gartner. That means it’s a learning process but you can still reach that competitive advantage over 2/3 of your competition so, keep at it!

The best practices covered should not be seen as just standalone pieces but part of an overall holistic email marketing and metrics approach. You’ll notice that some of these suggested best practices overlap and support each other. Approaching your email marketing initiatives and metrics in a unified matter can help you develop an analytics culture not only in your marketing department but your whole organizations. And with these insights, you can take both strategic and tactical measures to improve your marketing initiatives today and on future horizons.

Have you found any additional email metrics best practices that worked for you? Share with us your experiences in the comments.

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