Is Your Marketing Team Confused About How to Analyze Email Results?

Email marketing has been used for maybe the last 20 years. But we still see companies not understanding how to properly analyze its results. Email marketing isn’t the sexiest marketing channel, and sometimes it just doesn’t get much attention. Sometimes the basics – in even the most organized marketing operations — just seem to fall through the cracks.

Frequently, it’s because: 

  • Someone set up an email conversion series a while ago, and the series is just running without actively being managed
  • There’s a “production” mentality in the marketing area – we just have to keep projects moving. And no one is really tracking how effective the email messages are individually.
  • Those working on sending the emails now don’t really understand what they should be looking at – or the implications of the numbers. Or maybe they don’t think it’s their job to analyze results.

 Do you know how effective each of your email messages and Offers are at driving traffic? Do you know if your audience is reading your enewsletter or other promotional emails?  Have you seen an email analysis report lately?

Email can be a highly profitable workhorse – when it’s more actively managed. That means tracking results and continuously testing ways to improve.

 Click-through Rate (CTR) for message/offer effectiveness

Click-Through (not Open Rate) is the key indicator of whether your email persuaded your audience to act.

Look at Unique Clicks (number of individuals who clicked) divided by total Delivered (total sent minus undeliverables and bounced names):

  • CTR =  Unique Clicks / Delivered for each email.

 Why “delivered” versus “sent”?  You’re looking at your message and offer effectiveness.

 You want to gauge how effectively your email drove clicks from those that actually had the opportunity to see your email (total delivered).

What should your Click-Through be? Customer CTR is typically much higher than for leads. But every company’s results will be different.

Track CTR by individual email: higher Click-Through indicates more interest in that email. (If you’re sending an enewsletter with links to your blog posts, you can track clicks on each link to identify which topics were most interesting to your audience.)

Conversion Rate to leads and sales

For emails designed to get a sale or lead, the message should focus on driving the action. How effective is your message and Offer at driving leads or sales?

To compute Email Conversion Rate, compare number of sales (or form completions for leads) divided by total emails delivered.

 Email Conversion Rate = sales/delivered or leads/delivered

Always follow results through to the lead or sale when possible.

For email conversion series (to leads) and email renewal series (for ecommerce clients), we analyze the results of each email in each series periodically.  For those emails with lower conversion rates, we rewrite them to test something new.

Why are marketers still confused about “Open Rate”?

“Open Rate” is useful for testing Subject Lines and giving you some indication of the attractiveness of the Subject Line. But Open Rate does not mean that recipients clicked on your email to open it or even saw your email.

 (Have you explained this to those running your email operations now?)

 Open Rate actually means that any images within the email were “opened” (or pulled from the server).

 So Open Rate is problematic for gauging email effectiveness: 

  • Many email programs now have “graphics off” as the default. If the recipient doesn’t turn graphics on for your email, NO opens will be counted, no matter how many times the recipient views the email.
  • But if the recipient has “graphics on” (in an email program with a “preview pane,” where you can see a portion of the email without clicking on it) EVERY email with an image will count as “opened” whether the recipient ever actually views your email or not.
  • No mobile views register as “opens” no matter how many times recipients open your email on a mobile phone.

How can we conclude anything from Open Rate? As we compare Subject Line to Subject Line, we assume that each version went to a similar percentage of “graphics on” and “graphics off” individuals. Any increase in Open Rate for one version may have been due to individuals turning “graphics on” to view the email. So use Open Rate for comparison only.

Whenever you see “results” or recommendations based on Open Rate, just keep in mind: Open Rate isn’t an indicator of whether the email was effective at generating a click, lead, or sale.

  • And if you’re getting reports from your team citing your great Open Rates – and no CTR or Conversion Rates — it may be time to go back to some basic email marketing education.

Implications of Higher CTR but Lower Conversion Rate

Some emails may get a higher Click-Through percentage but have a lower Conversion Rate to leads or sales.

That indicates strong interest in the topic. 

  • If you’re generating leads, it could also mean the form on your Landing Page is too long – or there’s a problem with the copy.
  • If you’re driving sales, it could mean your product copy didn’t effectively convince the visitor to take action – or prove the value of the product in relation to its price.

For each landing page with a form, track its conversion by looking at leads (completed forms) / unique pageviews. This will give you an indication of the landing page’s overall Conversion Rate. For pages with low Conversion, time to modify the copy or the form to try to improve results.

For each product page on your ecommerce site, track its conversion by looking at sales of that product divided by unique pageviews of that product page. Look at those products that have lower Conversion Rates, and work on improving the product copy.

  • We rarely see ecommerce companies taking this analysis step. But it can be eye-opening, and help you focus your improvement efforts.

Tracking your results by email can help you improve your traffic-driving efforts. But if a landing page isn’t getting good Conversion across all of your traffic-driving efforts, it’s a problem with the page rather than the email effort.

Be sure all of your marketing team (including the new ones) understand how to track and analyze results at each step in your traffic-generating, lead-creating, and sales-driving process.


Excerpted from our new Amazon BESTSELLER, “The Results Obsession: ROI-Focused Digital Strategies to Transform Your Marketing” !

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Learn more about The Results Obsession and see the Table of Contents

The book includes 3 copywriting chapters, plus High Impact Email Strategies, Creating Email to Drive Leads and Sales, and step-by-step tracking and analytics to ensure you maximize your email results.

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About the Author:

Website SEO and Direct Marketing Copywriter, Offer and Lead Generation Strategist. Karen has generated stellar Internet Marketing and Direct Mail Marketing RESULTS for a Range of Clients, including: 1) 67% boost in online guest accounts for; 2) 60% response to an online survey for Luce Forward; 3) 22% response for Union Bank; 4) Direct mail for Qualcomm that boosted sales response by 25 times; 5) Email Nurturing Series that doubled sales for; 6) New Email Series for Software company that boosted click-through by 3 times. Contact Karen at 760-479-0012.

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