7 Email Marketing KPIs You Need to Track (& Current Benchmarks)

minute/s reading time

Email marketing ebbs and flows with the online trends of each year. Using trackable metrics, we can measure the success of our email campaigns against current benchmarks and assess our return on investment. Join us as we uncover our 7 top email marketing KPIs you need to track and current benchmarks to keep an eye on.

Email marketing KPIs include click-through rates, conversion rates, unsubscribe rates, open rates, click-to-open rates, overall return on investment, forwarding rates, and the best days to send emails. Measure your performance against industry standards to adjust your approach as needed.

You've hit “send”. Now the real work begins. Keeping track of your email campaigns' performance is critical in any email marketing endeavor. Here, we list our top seven email marketing key performance indicators to look out for. We also provide current industry benchmarks to allow you to assess your campaign against others in the field.

7 Email Marketing KPIs You Should be Tracking

When tracking your email marketing campaigns, you can keep an eye on many key performance indicators (KPIs). From hard and soft bounce rates to forwarding rates and everything in between, it can become a little confusing to know which to focus on.

We have selected seven without which we feel you simply cannot live (or market). Let us look at all seven KPIs in detail to better understand what you are tracking and the current benchmarks you should keep an eye on.

1. Click Through Rates (CTRs)

Click-through rates are a helpful metric to watch. They take open rates a step further by allowing you to see how engaging your email content is.

Since your email includes a call to action, you have a prescribed action you would like your reader to take. The first step the reader takes is opening the email. The next step is clicking on your in-text link or call to action button.

When you monitor CTRs, you need to assess whether or not the reader followed through on the action. You are simply noting whether or not they clicked on the link. The benefit of measuring CTRs is that you monitor the engagement level of your email content. If your CTR is low, you can adjust your content to make it more exciting.

(Related: 8 Ways to Improve Email Click-Through Rates (CTRs))

Looking at the current benchmarks for click-through rates, at the end of 2021, The CM Group reported that the Education field had the highest CTR of 4.4%. The lowest CTR belonged to retail, with a low 0.7%. The average CTR is around 5%, so if you aim for approximately that, you will be level with most of your peers.

2. Conversion Rates

While click-through rates track what readers click on, conversion rates track what they do next.

Did they download the e-book you were giving away?
Did they subscribe to your service?
Did they purchase your product or ask for more information?
(Related: Top 6 Email Marketing Hacks That Will Boost Conversions & Engagement)

Tracking your conversion rates gives insight into the strength of your calls to action and offers. It allows you to assess how much return you are getting on your investment. Unlayer recommends ensuring you include the following three criteria in your emails for reasonable conversion rates:

  • Catchy content
  • Good design
  • Visible positioning

3. Open Rates and Click-To-Open Rates

The data gained from open rates has become somewhat skewed in recent years. It was designed to show email marketers how many readers opened their emails and when. However, the dawn of picture blockers and Apple's Mail Privacy Protection features have meant that false opens give us an inflated sense of how well our campaigns are doing.

A better metric to use is click-to-open rates. This tracks a combination of clicks and opens, essentially letting you know how many of your readers opened your email and engaged with the content by clicking on links and buttons.

To calculate your click-to-open rate:
Divide the number of emails clicked by the number of emails delivered and multiply the total by 100.

Let us look at industry benchmarks for click-to-open rates. At the end of 2021, data from Campaign Monitor shows that the highest-performing click-to-open rate was for the Education field, which came in at 15.7%. The lowest performer was retail, which scored 5.3%.

4. Unsubscribe Rates

This may not be the most fun metric, but it indicates how your campaigns perform. While it is helpful when readers unsubscribe from lists they no longer find useful, we can use their departure to up our game and make changes if needed.

Consider any changes you have made that could have led to their unsubscribing.
Can you improve your audience segmentation?
How about your email layout, frequency, tone, the day you send them out, or anything else?

Your unsubscribe rates should not exceed your growth or maintenance rates. If your contacts leave in droves, you must make serious changes to your campaign.

5. Email Forwarding and Social Share Rates

Tracking which emails get forwarded and shared is part of tracking your click-through rate. The more forwards and shares you get, the more engagement you get, which is great for your search engine optimization and engagement ranking.

Seeing how many forwards and shares your email get can show you how valuable your email content is. You have done a stellar job if your reader feels it is worthy enough to share with friends and colleagues.

Still, your readers are likely to share your emails if you make it easy for them to do so. Attach “share this” buttons and social media icons to the bottom of your emails to encourage your readers to go crazy.

6. Overall Return on Investment

The benchmark for your overall return on investment (ROI) is how much you spend on your campaigns. In general, email ROI should be about 122%. That is around four times the return of any other digital marketing platform.

Calculate how much you spend on your email marketing, and then tweak your campaigns until you are receiving a return on your investment. Remember that time is money. Even if you are using a free email service, calculate the time you spend working on your content by the hour as if you were charging a client.

7. The Best Days to Send Emails

You may feel that sending marketing emails during work hours makes the best sense since they are work-related, but are you sure?

Although we highly recommend you send test emails to your contact list for your specific business, we found interesting data to use as a benchmark regarding the best days for sending marketing emails.

  • The days that perform the best are usually from Monday to Wednesday.
  • The day with the highest open rate is Monday, with an open rate of 22%.
  • Tuesday wins the highest score for click-through rate, with 2.4%.
  • The days that perform the worst are Friday to Sunday.
  • Tuesday and Wednesday share the highest click-to-open rate of 10.8%.

Final Thoughts

The key performance indicators for email marketing can be measured against current industry standards. You should always perform your own tests to assess if your methods match your specific business and audience.

Tweak your campaign and aim to make your email content as valuable and engaging as possible. Track the success of your campaigns on as many levels as possible to gain a clear understanding of how well it is performing.

About the Author

I have been in the 'online business' space since 2009 when I started an eCommerce business selling motorcycle parts (sold in 2012). Since then I have owned and operated several successful online business (and had a fair share of failures), along with owning offline home services businesses. Currently my focus is online businesses that are profitable with paid traffic. As a 'self employed individual' I do not use Linkedin, but you can connect with my on my personal instagram and youtube which largely revolve around my mountain biking passion!