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by Mike Vestil 

Essential Email Marketing KPIs To Track In Your Business

Email marketing is one of the essential parts of any business. Getting in touch with customers via email can produce excellent results, both short-term and even long-term. 

Sending valuable content and information about upcoming promotions will give your business a competitive edge while ensuring that your customers are aware of what’s happening in your world.

However, with all that said, it can be hard to know if email marketing is working at its best or not, so tracking the right KPIs is essential for measuring success.

By measuring the right KPIs, you’ll be able to make the most of email marketing and all its benefits and create goals that make sense within your business strategy. This article will explain what email marketing KPIs are and why they’re essential, along with how to measure them in email marketing. 

Let's dive deep into this topic.

What Are KPIs And Why Are They Important When Considering Email Marketing Goals?

A key performance indicator (KPI) is an element or metric that demonstrates the success of any email marketing campaign and will report on whether or not the target objectives were met. 

KPIs can measure things such as the number of leads generated from a campaign, number of subscribers added to an email list, amount of revenue generated as a result of an email marketing campaign, etc. 

If any changes have been made recently, KPIs provide a benchmark to see if such changes were effective or not.

To avoid blindly sending emails, it’s important to set specific business objectives before starting a campaign. These objectives should be measurable to know which efforts are paying off and which ones should be dropped.

By setting goals, you’re better able to create an email marketing strategy that works over the long term.

The Most Common KPIs For Email Marketing

Here are a few standard metrics to use as you build your email marketing campaigns.

Number Of Emails Opens (Open Rate)

The number of email opens is a good KPI for measuring success because it shows how interested recipients were in what they received. You can quickly check this by looking at the "opens" from your email platform.


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Understanding the number of opens helps you when it comes to your subject line. The more emails you send the more you'll start to understand the subject lines that work better for you and your business.

A similar metric to consider is the unique open rate. This is more beneficial than purely looking at the general open rate. This KPI only considers the first time a person opens an email, irrespective of how many times the person actually opened the same email.

Number Of Clicks (Click Through Rate)

You can use this KPI to understand what links in your email are the most popular and, based on that knowledge, start to optimize better and test out newer anchor texts and creatives going forward.


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The higher the number of clicks the links in your email get, the more people will visit a landing page. This means that the odds people will take the desired action (such as filling out a form or making a purchase) will increase.

Number Of Email Subscribers

This KPI will help you understand whether your list is growing in size, staying more or less the same, or decreasing. If this number of email subscribers is not increasing as desired (or increasing slowly), perhaps changes need to be made to the initial part of your email marketing campaign.


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These changes could include items such as using a different headline on your opt-in page, changing the way the page altogether, or potentially split testing a totally different way of getting people to sign up.

If you are giving people any type of deliverable when they sign-up for your list, then you might want to measure whether or not the item that you're giving is well-worth in the eyes of your potential subscribers.

Unsubscribe Rate

Unsubscribes will happen naturally as time goes by. Some people won’t like your content while others will just decide that they’re getting too many emails in their inbox (not necessarily from you). Even though this is a normal occurrence, there are still warning signs to look out for if your email subscriber list starts decreasing at an above-average rate.

Giving people some questions to answer as soon as they unsubscribe might help you gain an understanding as to why they decided to opt out. Try asking them simple questions such as, “Why did you want to stop receiving emails from us?” or “What would prompt you to start receiving emails again?”


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Taking this feedback into consideration when sending out your next email campaign can ensure that you learn from your mistakes and get better email marketing KPIs.

Number Of Complaints

Spam complaints are when the email recipients mark your emails as spam in their email account. This is usually done when they feel like you're sending too many emails that contain little to no value.


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A spam complaint rate below 1% might be considered normal, depending on your industry and list size. If this number starts to rise, it’s time to take a look at how often you are sending emails to your subscriber base, the type of content you are sharing, and whether or not there are changes that need to be made.

Bounce Rate

Another email marketing metric to consider when it comes to your campaigns is your email bounce rate. When you try to send an email but it doesn't get delivered because the email address you're sending to is inactive, then this will be considered a bounce.

This is one of the crucial email marketing KPIs since the higher the bounce rate, the more likely you might get penalized by email service software providers for current and future email campaigns. This happens because soft bounces (defined as a temporary problem on the receiving end) or hard bounces (defined as invalid email addresses on the recipient’s part) cause concern that the sender (i.e, you) might be doing something bad.

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Segmentation (which we’ll discuss below) is a key exercise to do when it comes to decreasing your email bounce rate and ensuring that you stay in your email service provider’s good books.

How To Create The Right Email Metrics For Your Business Goals

Define Your Business Goals

Decide what you want to achieve for each of your email campaigns so that when you set out to measure success you know what it is that needs to be tracked. If your goal is to increase sales or sign-ups then tracking the number of opt-ins, opens, and click-through rates would be the best way to go about measuring this KPI.

Optimize Campaigns

After deciding on KPIs for specific goals, start measuring and optimizing your campaigns for those specific goals. You can also decide to send fewer emails in order to ensure objectives are met before gradually increasing the frequency again.

Export Data

Export data from the email marketing software you use and analyze it in a spreadsheet or other reporting tool to determine how well each campaign performs. You can sort your datasets by various filters (in Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets) making it easier for you to identify high-performing campaigns as well as those that aren't doing so well.


Segmented emails perform better than non-segmented ones – they allow you to focus on a specific audience and deliver personalized content that is relevant to each individual in that segment. The more targeted your segments are, the better the results will be, so try various variables when coming up with the segmentation rules.

Some of these might include segments such as: 

  • Number of email opens in the last 3 months
  • Number of link clicks in emails
  • No clicks on emails that were opened
  • Age range
  • Purchased as least one item in the last 3 months
  • Never purchased anything from your company

Segmentation also improves the click-through rate and conversion rate because people receiving these types of emails are more likely to open them and act on the actions you've suggested. Segmented emails (with a specific subject line, body content, and links) will be more targeted towards the recipient than if you had to send a general email to all of the people on your email marketing list.


You should always be testing different elements in your emails. These include subject lines, creatives, layouts, etc. It's also worth trying to send some emails at different times or days than you usually do. Such periods of low activity could include times such as Saturday or Sunday evenings - this is when people tend to be freer to check their emails and act on them. 

Some businesses prefer weekend campaigns because people seem more engaged than they would at work but it's up to you what time of day works best for your campaign efforts.

Email Marketing Metrics Vs KPIs

Email marketing metrics are a commonly used alternative for email KPIs. While technically they do not mean the exact same thing, the measured values are sometimes interchanged. 

Regardless of whether you opt to use one word over the other, what’s important is understanding that the right KPIs/metrics can substantially increase your business’ bottom line.

Measuring the right metrics can be extremely helpful in maintaining current customers as well as attracting new ones. Use the tools provided by your email service provider or go for a third-party solution such as Litmus. Both of these will allow in-house marketers and other stakeholders in the company to see how all things email-marketing related are doing. With this data, they can then decide on the best course of action to take.


By checking out what your competitors are doing you can get inspiration when it comes to working on improving your email marketing efforts. This could be anything from the subject lines they're using to which creatives work best for your shared audience. If perhaps you come across something interesting such as a great-looking button then give it a try, increase or decrease its size, change the color just test different variations of it to find out which one works best for your business.

Email Marketing KPIs - FAQ

What does email marketing success mean?

Email marketing success depends on many variables that are combined together. It's an ongoing process of building, testing, and refining the various elements involved in email marketing.

One important thing to keep in mind is that even if everything seems to be working properly, there's still room for improvement. Always strive for improving your email marketing KPIs and maximize your ROI.

How Do I Create Better Email Marketing Campaigns?

Creating better email marketing campaigns isn't an easy task. You will need to invest time and resources into testing and iterating your emails, as well as analyzing the data collected from those tests.

Here are some of the best practices for creating effective email marketing campaigns:
  • Personalize everything you can: from the preheader text, initial email greeting, and even the contents of your email, see if you can make each subscriber feel unique.
  • Tell a story: don't just describe what you do, create an experience for your subscribers and make them part of the story.
  • Write great subject lines: keep it short and include the value proposition of your offer.
  • Use autoresponders: collect email addresses from your website visitors and subscribers. Send them automated emails when they subscribe to push them towards buying or taking the next step in your funnel.
  • Create a great lead magnet to build initial value: use an appealing freebie offered in exchange for their email address to increase engagement with your emails.

What Are Essential Email Marketing KPIs?

Essential email marketing KPIs are the most important metrics you should be looking at when analyzing your email marketing campaigns. These include:

  • Open rate: measures how many subscribers have opened your email, expressed as a percentage of total subscribers.
  • Click-through rate (CTR): is the total number of clicks divided by the number of emails delivered.
  • Unsubscribe rate: is the total number of unsubscribes divided by the number of emails delivered.
  • Bounces: when an email cannot be delivered to a recipient's inbox for one reason or another.
  • Complaints: the total number of complaints divided by the number of emails sent.

Why Are Email Marketing Statistics Important?

Email statistics are important because they give you a quantitative idea of your current marketing state and help you understand how successful your efforts have been.

They let you know how your subscribers feel about your emails and whether or not what you're doing is working.

What Is Double Opt-In?

Double opt-in refers to the act of having someone submit their email address and then confirming it. This process helps you avoid spam complaints, as it only allows people who want to receive emails from you to actually do so.


In conclusion, email marketing KPIs can be measured in a variety of different ways based on your needs, available data, and the type of email campaign you're running.

With that said, the basic KPIs mentioned above should be measured to evaluate the success of your email marketing campaign and iterate on it.

These basic KPIs can be broken down further into several more specific metrics (such as click to open rate as well as sharing and forwarding) which might better help you understand their true meaning and drive future optimization for your campaigns.

A successful email marketing program will encompass multiple dimensions of data, be dynamic and allow you to pivot to new segments that are currently not being addressed as best as they can be.

Finally, remember to start simple, but be prepared to evolve your KPIs as your email marketing program matures and your subscriber list gets bigger.

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About the author 

Mike Vestil

Mike Vestil is an author, investor, and speaker known for building a business from zero to $1.5 million in 12 months while traveling the world.

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