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Email Analytics: Metrics and Dashboards for Email Marketing Optimization

Email marketing remains one of the most effective digital marketing channels. Studies show email generates $42 for every $1 spent, the highest ROI of any marketing channel. With over 4 billion daily email users worldwide, email provides unparalleled reach and engagement.

However, most marketers struggle to maximize the impact of their email campaigns. The biggest challenge is lack of email analytics and optimization. Without the right email metrics and dashboards, it’s impossible to track performance and continuously improve email relevance, engagement, and revenue.

This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about email analytics, including:

  • Key email metrics to track for optimization
  • Best practices for setting up email analytics and dashboards
  • How to analyze email metrics and use insights to optimize campaigns
  • The top email marketing analytics tools and how to choose one

Why Email Analytics Matters for Performance

Email analytics provides the data you need to understand what’s working well in your email program and what needs improvement. By monitoring key metrics over time, you can spot trends, test changes, and iterate your way to better email marketing results.

Without email analytics, you’re guessing about the performance of your campaigns. And in email marketing, guessing leads to subpar deliverability, lower open and click rates, missed revenue opportunities, and frustrated subscribers.

With email analytics, you gain visibility into:

  • Email deliverability – Are your emails reaching the inbox?
  • Subscriber engagement – How do subscribers interact with your emails?
  • Email content – What content resonates best with your audience?
  • Campaign performance – How are different campaigns and segments performing?
  • Automations – Are your autoresponder workflows effective?
  • RoI – What’s the revenue impact of your email program?

Armed with this data, you can prioritize optimization efforts to improve results over time. Email analytics empowers you to send more relevant, engaging emails that align to customer needs.

Key Email Metrics to Track

Dozens of email metrics are available, but not all are equally valuable. Focus your analysis on a core set of 10-15 KPIs to avoid data overload. Prioritize metrics aligned to your email marketing goals and strategy.

Here are the most important email metrics to track for optimization:

Deliverability Metrics

Deliverability is essential for email marketing success. If your emails don’t reach the inbox, nothing else matters. Monitor these key metrics:

  • Bounce rate: Percentage of emails that fail to be delivered due to invalid or unreachable addresses. Aim for less than 2%.
  • Spam complaints: Number of spam complaints from subscribers. Target less than 0.1%.
  • Unsubscribe rate: Percentage of recipients who opt-out from your emails. Benchmark to your industry.
  • Placement rate: Percentage of emails that land in the primary inbox vs. tabs or spam folder. Goal is over 90% inbox placement.

Lower bounce and complaint rates and increase placement rates by maintaining clean lists, segmenting subscribers, and optimizing content relevance.

Engagement Metrics

Engagement metrics indicate whether your email content resonates with subscribers. Measure:

  • Open rate: Percentage of recipients who open your email. Industry benchmarks range from 15-30%.
  • Click-through rate (CTR): Percentage of recipients who click links in your email. Average CTR is 2-5%.
  • Click-to-open (CTO) rate: Percentage of opens that result in clicks. Higher CTO indicates content drives action.
  • Conversion rate: Percentage of recipients who complete a desired action from your email. Varies based on calls-to-action.
  • List growth rate: Rate at which your list grows monthly. Set goals based on industry and tactics.

Test content, design, subject lines, and sending cadence to boost open and click rates.

Behavioral Metrics

Behavioral metrics reveal how subscribers engage with your emails:

  • Email time of day: When subscribers open your emails. Use this to inform send times.
  • Day of week: Weekday vs. weekend opening activity. Important for retail/B2C.
  • Email client usage: The email clients and devices your audience uses. Optimize email render.
  • Subscriber location: The geographic location of opens and clicks. Useful for segmenting.
  • Scroll depth: How far down an email subscribers scroll before exiting. Indicates engagement.
  • Links clicked: Which links in your email get the most clicks. Prioritize content.

Use behavioral data to segment subscribers and tailor content, design, and cadence.

Campaign Metrics

Compare the performance of different campaigns to determine what resonates with your audience:

  • Open rates by campaign: Your best and worst performing email types.
  • CTR by campaign: Highest and lowest performing calls-to-action.
  • Conversion rates: Performance of different campaign goals like purchases or form fills.
  • Revenue per campaign: Sales driven directly from each campaign.

Identify your best campaigns to repeat and unsuccessful ones to eliminate.

Automation Metrics

For autoresponder emails, track:

  • Send rate: Percentage of subscribers entering each workflow.
  • Drop-off rate: Percentage of subscribers who exit the workflow early.
  • Full completion rate: Percentage who complete the full workflow.

Use drop-off points to improve relevance and messaging in automations.

Email Program Benchmarks

Finally, zoom out to monitor overall program health:

  • Email revenue: Total revenue directly attributed to email campaigns.
  • Cost per acquisition (CPA): The average cost to acquire an email subscriber.
  • Return on investment (ROI): Revenue driven by email vs. total cost. Aim for 4,400%+ ROI.
  • Subscriber lifetime value: The average lifetime value of an email subscriber.
  • List growth: Rate your list grows monthly and yearly. Set growth goals.

These benchmarks help quantify the business impact of your efforts and identify areas needing more focus.

How to Set Up Your Email Analytics Stack

With so many metrics to track, proper tools and dashboards are essential for monitoring email performance. Follow these best practices to get the most from your email analytics:

Choose an Email Service Provider with Robust Analytics

Your email service provider (ESP) is the foundation of your email analytics stack. Leading solutions like Mailchimp, Sendinblue, and Omnisend have excellent built-in reporting.

Key features to look for include:

  • Pre-built reports and dashboards: Easy access to charts showing opens, clicks, conversions, etc. over time.
  • Customizable reporting: Ability to create advanced segments and custom reports.
  • Real-time analytics: See results as they happen for immediate optimization.
  • Email activity tracking: Times, days, locations, and devices for subscriber engagement.
  • Campaign performance comparison: Benchmark different campaigns and groups.
  • Automation insights: Metrics for each workflow and recipient cohort.
  • List management analytics: Growth, churn, lifetime value, demographics.
  • Email testing capabilities: A/B test subject lines, content, and designs.
  • Integration with other tools: Connect other data to complete the picture.

Pick an ESP that provides visibility into these areas out of the box to simplify reporting.

Implement Campaign Tracking Parameters

To attribute downstream actions like form fills and purchases back to specific emails, implement campaign tracking parameters.

Campaign tracking appends a unique ID to each link in your email in the format:

https://www.website.com?email_campaign={uniqueid}

When someone clicks and takes an action, this ID is stored so their activity can be traced directly to that campaign.

Campaign tracking enables you to accurately measure conversions and ROI per email rather than just list-wide. Work with your ESP and website developer to append parameters to all links.

Connect Other Data Sources

While your ESP provides a wealth of insights straight from your email program, additional tools can fill in the gaps:

  • CRM: Sync email analytics with CRM data like deal value to calculate ROI.
  • Google Analytics: Track site activity driven by email campaigns.
  • Revenue analytics: Directly connect sales data to matching campaign IDs.
  • ** Predictive lead scoring:** Build subscriber propensity models to optimize targeting.
  • Feedback surveys: Gather first-party insights into subscriber preferences.
  • Social media: Correlate email performance to social engagement.

A complete view combines email behavior data with attributes and actions in other systems. API integrations make this easy to accomplish.

Build Custom Dashboards

With data flowing from multiple sources, pull the pieces together into unified dashboards tailored to your goals.

Great dashboards enable anyone on your team to get insight into email program performance at a glance. Follow best practices like:

  • Structuring dashboards to align with goals and buyer journey stages
  • Limiting metrics to the vital few KPIs for each area
  • Displaying trends over time, not just one-off snapshots
  • Comparing segments like campaigns, lists, and integrations side-by-side
  • Automating report delivery to stakeholders on a cadence
  • Keeping dashboards easy to interpret for fast analysis

As your needs grow, don’t be afraid to maintain multiple dashboard views for different teams and use cases. Segmenting your data for precise analysis is key.

How to Analyze and Optimize Email Metrics

Setting up robust email analytics and dashboards is the first step. But simply looking at metrics won’t magically improve your results. You need to regularly analyze performance to uncover trends and opportunities.

Approach email reporting as an ongoing optimization process following three steps:

1. Monitor Metrics and Set Goals

Start by reviewing key metrics on deliverability, engagement, campaigns, automations, and overall program health. Look at trend lines over months and quarters.

Gather historical averages and set specific goals you want to improve. For example:

  • Reduce bounce rate from 2.5% to 2%
  • Increase click-through rate from 3.8% to 4.5%
  • Drive $5,000 more revenue per month from email

Give yourself quarterly or annual goals to work towards. Baseline metrics make progress tangible.

2. Diagnose Problem Areas

Next, dig into your reports to identify strengths and weaknesses. Look for:

  • Portions of your audience less engaged based on open and click rates
  • Email campaigns that underperform peers
  • Low conversion rates for key offers
  • Activity differences across days, times, and locations

Find specific problem points creating drag on email results. The biggest issues are sometimes hidden until you segment and analyze the data.

3. Brainstorm and Test Optimization Ideas

Now conduct root cause analysis to understand why these issues are occurring. Consider factors like content relevance, email timing, subject lines, designs, lead nurturing, and list quality.

Brainstorm ideas to address the problems and outline a plan of action. Improvement ideas may include:

  • Refreshing content for low-engagement segments
  • Sending campaigns on better days and times
  • Reactivating inactive subscribers with re-engagement campaigns
  • Adding more quality sources to grow your list
  • Improving deliverability with double opt-in and sender reputation monitoring
  • Testing new automations for abandoned carts or first-time purchases

Prioritize optimizations with the biggest potential business impact. Set up tests, implement changes, and continue tracking metrics to see if you achieve your goals.

Choosing the Best Email Analytics Tools

The final piece of building your email analytics capabilities is selecting tools. The right technology provides the reports, customization, and integrations you need to turn data into insights.

All-in-One Email Marketing Platforms

For most companies, an integrated email marketing platform is the best place to start. Solutions like:

  • Mailchimp
  • Omnisend
  • Sendinblue
  • Constant Contact
  • Campaign Monitor
  • HubSpot

Offer ESP capabilities plus built-in analytics and workflows to get your program up and running quickly. Many also provide landing pages, forms, CRM, and automation features for complete email marketing and optimization.

Evaluate key analytics functionality like segmentation and custom reports to find the best fit. Ease of use is also important – you want a solution that?s intuitive for your team.

Specialized Email Analytics Tools

As email programs grow more sophisticated, dedicated analytics tools can provide deeper customization for power users.

  • Agile CRM: Robust custom reports with tracking, scoring, and BI connectors.
  • Mailshake: Focus on detailed engagement and lead gen metrics.
  • Metrics for Mailchimp and Sendinblue: Extended analytics built for the major ESPs.
  • Email Analytics by Litmus: Analytics weighted to email deliverability.
  • Databox: Integrates email with other marketing channels for unified reporting.
  • Funnel Report: Specializes in visualizing email conversion funnels.

Evaluate standalone tools based on your largest analytics gaps and need for customization. They can complement all-in-one platforms with extended functionality.

Business Intelligence (BI) Tools

For enterprise brands with large datasets, BI tools add capabilities like:

  • Predictive modeling and machine learning
  • Data warehouse storage
  • Advanced visualizations and dashboards
  • Real-time alerting

Leading solutions include:

  • Google Analytics 360
  • Adobe Analytics
  • Looker by Google
  • Microsoft Power BI
  • Tableau
  • Sisense

The investment is significant but delivers deep analytical rigor for established email programs.

For most companies, a combination of your core ESP platform plus 1-2 specialized tools is sufficient. Work backwards from your analytics needs, rather than evaluating every vendor under the sun.

Key Takeaways and Next Steps

Robust email analytics is mandatory to maximize the impact of your email marketing today. By closely tracking key metrics around deliverability, engagement, conversions, and overall program health, you gain visibility into what?s working and what needs improvement.

But analytics tools are only as valuable as the insights you act on from them. Setting up dashboards, monitoring trends, and continuously testing improvements based on the data will drive better email performance over time.

To get started with optimizing your email analytics:

  • Audit your current email metrics and tools, and identify gaps holding you back
  • Research ESPs and specialized tools that fill these gaps
  • Prioritize implementing campaign tracking and integrations
  • Determine your core KPIs to monitor, set goals, and build reporting dashboards
  • Schedule time at least monthly to review email performance and brainstorm optimization ideas
  • Test changes to improve results, iterating as you learn more

With the right foundations for email analytics in place, your program can fully evolve based on how your audience engages today. But it requires staying disciplined in your optimization process.

The tools are the easy part – making smarter decisions driven by email analytics data is where the real magic happens. Approach email reporting as an ongoing journey rather than a one-time project. With the right metrics as your guide, your email marketing will reach new heights.

By Dani Davis

Dani Davis is the pen name of the writer of this blog with more 15 years of constant experience in Content marketing and informatics product, e-commerce niche.

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