Social Media Metrics: Which E-mail Metrics to Measure

When compared to social media marketing, e-mail marketing is a whole other ballgame with its own vocabulary. And, of course, you can track e-mail metrics in Google Analytics.

Because e-mail marketing is permission-based marketing and faulty e-mail marketing can trigger the reflex for folks to list you as spam, it's best to use a program designed for the purpose of e-mail marketing from the beginning of each e-mail campaign or newsletter you send.

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So what metrics do you need to measure in e-mail? It's a fairly short, but important, list:

  • The size of your e-mail list: The number of e-mails in your list that are unique. Note: This number isn't necessarily the same as the total number of subscribers!

  • The number of new subscribers to your list: In this case new subscribers are those that you added after the date of your most recent mailing, not over time.

  • The number of folks who opt out (unsubscribe): Having people unsubscribe is normal. People weed out their inboxes all the time (especially when they're trying to increase their productivity or clean out their inbox).

    If you notice that folks seem to opt out fairly quickly after opting in, you may want to make sure that your content is delivering what you promise in your signup form.

  • Bounce rate: The bounce rate in e-mail marketing is different than the bounce rate on your website analytics. In e-mail, there are two types of bounces:

    • A hard bounce means the e-mail will never be delivered — usually the person has left a company or changed e-mail providers, and that email is no longer valid. Treat those like unsubscriptions.

    • A soft bounce may mean that the person's e-mail inbox is full or having a similar issue. This person may eventually see your e-mail, but it's not likely. If the e-mail gets a soft bounce several campaigns in a row, you can treat it as a hard bounce as well.

  • The open rate of your email campaign: the open rate is fairly self-explanatory, as it tells you how many people opened your e-mail. Some e-mail programs calculate only if the e-mail is opened the first time. Some e-mail programs calculate if the person comes back and opens it a second or third time.

    If you're running a campaign that needs to track all opens, one of the paid e-mail programs will be the solution you want to use.

  • The click rate of links in your e-mails: You may find yourself reviewing this measurement the most often, as it tells you how many times links in your e-mail are clicked. This is important to know if you run classes or have other sales-converting links in your e-mail.

    If links clicked is important to you, make sure that you set your e-mail campaign software to track not only whether someone clicks within the e-mail, but also if she clicks more than one link.

  • How fast or how much your newsletter or e-mail campaign lists are growing: This just refers to how many new subscribers you have versus how many unsubscribers or hard bounces. A good general rule is that if your click rate is steady or rising and your open rate is solid, don't worry too much about this number. If you see a decline across those three factors, it's time to review the campaign and the list.

  • The number of folks who open e-mail compared to the number of clicks they make: This open-to-click ratio is useful for deciding whether your calls-to-action and marketing language are effective within the e-mail.

  • How much each click costs: This cost-per-click metric is useful in figuring out how much each e-mail campaign actually costs you when you send it. This metric takes a little finagling and needs to include not just the cost of the software solution you've chosen (easy to price because most charge by the message) but also the cost of your time, any design work, and so on.

  • What your conversion rate is: The true measure of ROI is a combo of "Are your customers happy?" and "Are you making money?" — not a pile of metrics data about page views or a fan count — and this final metric speaks directly to that.

If your e-mail campaign is converting well, you'll be able to track the person through the entire sales funnel from your e-mail — from subscribe to open all the way to purchasing a product or service from you.

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