Digital Marketing

6 Actionable Email Marketing Insights For Powerful Campaigns (And 3 Bonus Strategies)

Colleen Thornton

We want detailed insights, but that desire doesn’t mean we enjoy number crunching. Insights turns out to be a fancy word for analytics, and while you may not enjoy those, they’re critical to the success of your business.  

Because analysing data tends to be painful, we’re going to focus on the metrics that give you the most insight into whether you’re meeting your email marketing goals. Then you can focus on the strategies that really matter.

But before we get started, you might be wondering if email marketing is still the best method for meeting your marketing goals. Compared to SEO, PPC, and social media marketing (SMM), email marketing takes a leading role in improving conversion rates. But that doesn’t mean you should drop all other methods and focus solely on email. We recommend a diversified approach to your marketing campaign, especially if you’re an e-commerce business.

That said, let’s hone in on what email marketing metrics are most important. Although that may vary depending on what you’re seeking to achieve, we’ll look at some key metrics that every business should pay attention to regardless of its goals.


Engagement is arguably the most important metric. If your audience isn’t interested in your content, then you’re effectively speaking to no one. The point of email marketing is to foster a relationship with subscribers by keeping them informed with relevant, current hits of industry knowledge. But more important is how you go about attracting their interest. You may have excellent, valuable content that they’ll never see because of the way you deliver it.

While you can reach out to your audience a couple of different ways, one is far more effective than the other:

1.     You can blast your lists with multiple emails urging subscribers to do this, click here, buy now, buy now, buy NOW.


2.     You can strategically reach out to your subscribers and potential customers with triggered emails that deliver timely, relevant content.

The difference is obvious and a bit like online dating. In the first scenario, you’ll either lose interest or never gain it to begin with. The second is person-focused and far more effective for garnering genuine engagement.

You want to create campaigns that don’t just speak to humans but speak to specific human desires and behaviours. That may mean a smaller list of more engaged subscribers, rather than a list of stale, non-participating recipients.


It’s never been about size anyway.Quality has always made a more significant impact when it comes to email marketing. Focusing on just growing your list misses the point. Such tunnel vision is akin to doing all the work of planting a garden that doesn’t grow. Your efforts are better served by tending to plants that thrive in the right conditions.

Use these few simple questions to help assess the fertility of those conditions:

●     How much of your list is inactive?

●     How compelling and relevant is your email content, objectively?

●     How many subscribers have clicked through in the last couple of months?

●     Are you continuing to email non-participating subscribers, running the risk of harming any future attempts at a reactivation campaign? Some of your list will naturally go stale each year, so if you’re going to focus on growing your list, make retention a priority.

And there are always more. Using a mix of experiential knowledge and collating expert advice, we determined the six most important KPIs every e-commerce business owner should track, regardless of industry, company size, or ROI goals.




Email performance is a holistic term representing open rate, click-through rate, bounce rate, and unsubscribe rate. All four lend some insight into the success of your email campaigns. We’ll break each one down, and more, below.

1.  Open Rate

There is some uncertainty about whether open rate is a reliable measure of success. It all depends on how and why you’re tracking it.

An aggregated estimate from experts suggests that a healthy open rate resides between 20-40%,but it depends on your industry. E-commerce hovers around 16%. Your subject line dramatically influences your open rate, so if you’re looking to test out how different subject lines are performing, regularly assessing your open rate is a good place to start.

However, this metric is affected by whether you include embedded images in your emails. Some people enable image blocking, which means that even if recipients open the email, it won’t reflect in your open rate, making that metric unreliable. Using open rate as a comparative metric against a predetermined benchmark maybe the best way to go, especially by comparing one week to the next, sent to the same list, and with the same variables in place.

2.  Click-Through Rate (CTR)

CTR is the percentage of recipients who clicked on one or more of the links in an email. A high CTR indicates that your content is relevant and engaging. A low CTR suggests the opposite. To calculate it, use the following formula:

Total number of emails sent ÷ number of click-throughs * 100

CTR is one of the primary metrics e-commerce owners track because it allows you to determine the performance of every individual email. It’s also extremely useful for split testing because it gives you direct insight into how many people are engaging with the content you’re sending out.

A healthy click-through rate is somewhere around 6%-7%, but that may depend on the sizeof your company. Most importantly, it’s influenced by the type of email campaign. Triggered emails will reflect higher CTRs because they’re relevant and current. Take a look at the following image:


There is some disparity between B2B and B2C email campaigns, according to Hubspot. Click through rates are generally higher for B2B companies and that increases with the number of emails sent (16-30 per month)

3.  Bounce Rate

These are the undelivered emails that have escaped into the digital ether. Soft bounces are temporary issues with a recipient’s email address. Hard bounces refer to permanently undeliverable emails.Email servers use hard bounces to determine the reputation of an email sender so you want to track and remove these frequently to avoid appearing as a spammer to ISPs.

4.  Unsubscribe Rate 

Give this attention, but without too much weight. People are either busy or lazy. If your subscribers aren’t engaging with your emails, they may not go through the process of unsubscribing, but will instead leave it unopened in their inbox or dump it. It’s far more accurate to measure subscriber engagement through conversions and click-through rates. You can also make it personal, which for us, is always an effective way to maintain a healthy list. Occasionally check in on unengaged subscribers and toss them out(see how to improve your campaign below).

5.   Conversion Rate

This metric indicates the number of subscribers who clicked on a link and took the desired action, whether that’s purchasing a product or service or completing a lead-generating form. Conversion rate is one of the most important ways to know if you’re meeting your goals. Why? Because conversions are linked directly to your CTA, which is directly tied to your email marketing goal, whatever that may be. undefined

6.  Email Sharing Rate

This is a great way to generate new contacts, so some of your emails should always include a pitch to share or forward content to a friend or colleague. Then, track what type of content is being shared to help you plan future email campaigns.



There’s no use in compiling and analysing these numbers if they’re going to accumulate dust. Knowing is the first step. Action must follow. To sum up, we recommend three essential moves you can take right now to ramp up the success of your email campaigns.

Ditch your unengaged subscribers. They’re clogging your list and skewing your numbers.Worse, subscribers will eventually report grey mail as spam, which ultimately affects the overall deliverability of your email.

Define your target audience. Making this a regular practice helps organically track your metrics, keeps your aim relevant, and reminds you to regard your customer as a living, breathing person rather than solely a source of income. Recreate your customer avatar every few months, especially when you see a dramatic up- or downswing in metrics.

Align your content with your goals. While this may seem an obvious strategy, many businesses are in the habit of churning out content for the sake of keeping communication alive. This is where relevancy hits the road, along with subscribers. If your goal is to convert newly acquired subscribers, create content that relates directly to your product or service, rather than providing an information piece.

Running a successful e-commerce business is full-on. If you’re choosing to analyse and track your own business metrics, we’ve gotta hand it to you, but a little help along the way doesn’t hurt. Rather, an expert, objective perspective can help develop valuable strategies that often get lost in the head spin of sorting through sheets of data. We’re here to help you construct an effective email marketing strategy from start to finish, or just those few parts in between. Contact us today to learn more.

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Colleen Thornton

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