This is more than just a post on conversion copywriting for email. It’s your ticket to confidently take on email projects that would have previously given you pause. Made to teach you from the ground up, this resource is inclusive of everything you need to know about conversion copywriting for email. It’s so inclusive, in fact, we nearly published it as a book. So bookmark it now and refer to it to answer all your email-related questions. This is part IV of IV.
So you now know how to build an email list of hot, interested leads. You know how to get more prospects to open and click. And you’re slingin’ automations, campaign emails and getting Sharon in accounting to respond to your email before you’ve even pressed send… right? Then you’re ready for the most nerdy-fun part of email copywriting: seeing your results and iterating on them.
Email Analytics: The Email Metrics that (Actually) Matter
Now that you have a full grasp of the do’s and don’ts of email marketing, it’s time to dive into the hard numbers.
Analyzing your email’s metrics isn’t as technical as it sounds.
In fact, you probably won’t have to do a lick of math. Or look at a single spreadsheet.
The dashboards in most email marketing software have gotten so good, that they can easily give you all the data you need at a glance.
The trick with these dashboards isn’t finding the metrics you need.
It’s ignoring the metrics you don’t need.
Many of them aren’t optimized around the right metrics. Just metrics that are easy to understand and make you feel like you understand what’s going on with your email marketing. Even if they’re just vanity metrics.
A great example is list size.
Dashboards love reporting on list size. And people love talking about their list size.
And it’s a fine metric to casually glance at, but when you start asking questions that matter like “How much money will I make if I launch a new product?” or “Is my opt-in working?” you quickly discover that list size doesn’t give you any answers.
Here are the 6 metrics that do matter in email marketing.
These 6 will help you answer almost every question you’ll need answers to.
The Metrics That Matter
Now, before we get into what metrics to look for, let’s start with the basic: where to find those metrics in your email service provider.
Because all ESPs are different, we can’t say exactly where you’ll find these metrics in your specific provider. But if you have any issues, refer to the relevant ESP support doc, or contact your service provider directly. They are usually extremely helpful.
1. Unique Open Rate (OR)
Your open rate shows you how many people opened your email. This is the critical first move – or micro-conversion – toward conversion (or the goal that you decided after reading about how to increase opens and clicks).
Looking at the open rate of a single email can tell you how it performed. Looking at the open rate over the past few emails can tell you how you’re doing overall.
Questions answered: Are my subject lines working? Do I have good list hygiene? Is my list engaged? Is my email deliverability strong? Is my From Name recognizable?
2. Unique Clickthrough Rate (CTR)
The next micro-conversion is the click.
The click will help diagnose whether the body of your email is doing what it needs to.
Questions answered: Is my offer working? Did my copy and design convert? Is my email relevant? Did I segment my audience enough? Did my email display in all clients and browsers?
3. List Growth
The final step we should be concerned with is List Growth. Most people miss this one as it’s usually not as obvious in most dashboards. But it’s worth seeking out.
For most brands, list growth is the most important micro-conversion. The more people you have on your list, the more payoff you can get from each email send.
However, it must be reiterated – as we covered extensively in the list building section – do not buy your list. When we talk about list growth, we talk about growing it with quality, engaged leads.
At some point, open rates and clickthrough rates plateau. But you can always get more subscribers.
Questions answered: Is my list growing? Is my opt-in working? Am I getting enough traffic to my opt-in?
4. Revenue per recipient (RPR)
For any email where the goal is revenue, looking at Revenue per Recipient is key. And it’s a great metric to look at to understand the overall picture of your email marketing.
Because this is the goal – the macro-conversion. And for most businesses, this is the North Star metric of their email marketing efforts. The one metric they should optimize for.
It shows you the success of your email marketing funnel from opt-in to offer. And it’s what every improvement to your funnel directly impacts.
Questions answered: Am I making money? Is my offer relevant? Did I segment my audience enough?
5. Revenue from Email/Total Revenue
While RPR is what we should optimize for, it’s good to keep an eye on Total Revenue coming in from email marketing.
This is the number that helps us make sure our efforts are paying off. And that email is profitable and helping us keep the lights on.
If our RPR is high, but there’s only 10 people on our email list, then it probably doesn’t make sense to have a full-time email marketing manager yet.
Questions answered: Am I making money? Is my automated email strategy working? Is my campaign email strategy working? Are my emails relevant? Am I emailing enough/too much?
6. Bounce Rate
This metric is key and answers a single, fundamental question:
How clean is my list?
If the answer is: I’ve followed your instructions on list maintenance and I check in and clean up my list regularly, clean, then carry on. If the answer is anything but that, it’s probably time to clean your list again.
Questions answered: Is it time to clean my list?
The Metric that Doesn’t Matter as Much as People Think
You may have noticed a popular metric that I left off that list.
I left it off on purpose. And for good reason.
Most people’s unsubscribe rates are fine. And regularly monitoring your unsubscribe rate will cause you to optimize for the wrong thing.
And people optimizing for the wrong thing end up creating those awful preference pages that make you jump through hoops before they’ll let you unsubscribe:
Besides just annoying your subscribers, this strategy boosts your probability of getting SPAM complaints, which hurts your deliverability.
The goal with your unsubscribe rate shouldn’t be to get it as close to zero as possible.
There’s a related economic principle. Even though unemployment seems inherently negative, there is actually a natural level of unemployment that occurs – like people quitting jobs before they get new ones and seasonal fluctuations – and there’s nothing wrong with that.
So economists aren’t looking for an economy with 0% unemployment, but a low, natural level.
The same is true of your unsubscribe rate.
People will unsubscribe from your list. It’s just a fact of life.
The only time you should worry is if your unsubscribe rate suddenly jumps. In every other situation, ignore it completely.
How to measure success
Now you know which metrics matter and which don’t. But you still need to know what to do with all this new data at your fingertips.
Okay, so… my RPR is $0.75.
To evaluate the numbers in front of you, you need to look at industry benchmarks and establish your company’s own benchmarks.
When you first start email marketing, you’ll compare your metrics to industry benchmarks.
Where you’re below industry benchmark is where you should focus first.
As you optimize and get new metrics, you’ll start to see them plateau.
And that’ll create your company’s email marketing benchmark against which you can evaluate all future marketing efforts.
Set up a regular check-in (probably weekly or bi-weekly), to see how your email marketing metrics are changing over time.
Remember: while these metrics are helpful overall, you’ll also want to keep the goal of each individual email in mind. If you send an email with content links, you shouldn’t expect this to be a high revenue driver, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t send it.
Context is always important and your strategy doesn’t always have to be about short-term revenue optimization.
The Secret to Successful Email Marketing? Testing
We’ve gone over key email metrics and how to evaluate their performance. So it’s time to talk optimization…
Which is all about testing.
If you’re familiar with website conversion rate optimization, then you know some of the fundamental principles behind email testing.
But in email testing there are two primary kinds of tests that we’re going to use: split testing and control group testing.
Also known as A/B Testing, this is the testing you’re familiar with from conversion rate optimization.
You take the control, and an alternate version where one variable is changed, send equal traffic to the two versions and see which converts better.
Just like with website testing, you need to use a sample size calculator to make sure that your test results are statistically significant.
You can’t trust test results from your email software when the test wasn’t run on a big enough sample size. And your email software isn’t going to tell you if your sample size was big enough or not.
It will just declare a winner. (Whether or not that’s accurate.)
A well-meaning test can easily go wrong.
It’s up to you to set up the test correctly to make sure your results are significant.
Split testing is best for: subject lines, from names, email copy, email design, landing pages.
Control group testing
If you want to test out a new idea or strategy, then you might be better off using a control group test.
WIth this test, you keep what you’re currently doing (your usual 20%-off sale, or your current giveaway opt-in), and you test it against a new idea that you think might outperform (a steeper 40% discount, or free gift with purchase opt-in).
You send the new variation to a randomly selected control group from your list. And with this control group that you can access later, you can track how this shift in strategy changes this group’s behavior over time.
Does a steeper discount lead to continued higher email engagement?
Does a free gift with purchase opt-in lead to repeat purchases within the first 90 days?
These are the questions you can answer with control group testing.
Control group testing is best for: new opt-ins, discounts, offers.
Deciding what to test
Before setting up either a control group test or a split test, you should identify what metric you’re trying to optimize for.
Depending on whether you want to impact OR, CTR, or RPR – you’ll want to test different elements.
To help you figure out what to test, scroll up to the email analytics section and see the bolded questions answered section under the KPI you’re interested in.
That should give you an idea of what to test.
And when you’re choosing between your options, remember our campfire from the definitive email guide…
What impacts revenue goes in this order: list (including segmentation), offer, then copy.
That knowledge can help you prioritize potential test ideas. (Bonus hack: keep that list accessible!)
And if you feel like this post is giving you a taste of what you can achieve with email marketing, then click here to check out our copywriting program 10x Emails
Now go forth and be awesome.