The Top 5 Email Marketing KPIs You Need to Be Tracking

When you think of email marketing KPIs, your mind probably pops up images of sign-up forms and well-designed emails. But analytics, the stats, and graphs that many email service providers record for their customers, are also important.

They tell you what’s working and what’s not in your email campaign: which messages were smash-hits, which flopped, which offended readers, and which prompted purchases. Analytics can also teach you whether or not your web form is attracting subscribers.

There are 5 key email marketing KPIs and metrics that you need to be looking at: opens, clicks, sales, traffic, unsubscribed, and growth.

#1 Opens

open mobile phone showing inbox with open message

The most basic of all your email marketing KPIs is your opens: who opened each message and when they opened it. Your open rate can tell you how your subject lines are performing – both how well they’re written and the topics they cover.

What Influences Open Rates?

Subject lines – they tend to have the biggest influence on open rates.

When crafting a subject line, you should ask:

  • Does it invoke a sense of urgency? Subscribers will be compelled to open your email if you emphasize they should do it now. This works best for sales and special offers.
  • Does consistency work better for your audience? If you’re sending out a weekly or monthly newsletter, you might be better off using a consistent format such as “Newsletter #10: This Week’s Topic.” Some marketers using a consistent subject line format report high open rates.
  • Are your subject lines compelling? The subject line is the one chance you have to catch the reader’s eye and convince them to read more. 

Also, if you look at your open reports, you may find that there are times in the day when your messages are opened most. You may also find that sending on some days of the week is more successful than sending on others.

If you send during a time when opens aren’t likely, your email may end up buried in the inbox, and you’ve set yourself up for poor results. There’s always a need of taking your emails under constant control. Using effective email tracking tools can help you analyze your email campaign. 

Subject lines and the time you send aren’t the only influences. Here’s what else can affect open rates:

  • Recognition – If the subscriber doesn’t know who you are, they’re less likely to open your email. You can help this by being consistent with the name you use as the sender. For example, don’t switch between your company name, your name and another employee’s name.
  • Emails passed on through forwarding – Emails that have been forwarded tend to have higher open rates. This could be linked to social proof; if the person receiving the forwarded message sees a trusted friend sent it, they’re more likely to open it.
  • Past experience with your company and emails – How someone perceives and values your company will have a direct impact on future interactions, including with email.

#2 Clicks

email marketing kpis 2 - shows cursor on blank screen

Once a reader opens your message, you’ll most likely want them to click on a link in your email.

By watching your click reports, you can see how many times each link in your emails gets clicked. This shows you what content your readers find compelling – and what they don’t. This is why it’s crucial to use proper SaaS marketing email templates and deliver relevant messages to receivers.

You should pay attention to the difference between your overall clicks and your unique clicks. Your overall clicks show how many times each link was clicked in total. Your unique clicks show only the first time each person clicked a link. So this number really represents how many subscribers clicked, regardless of how many times each of them re-clicked.

Sometimes a link will have far more overall clicks than unique clicks. This happens when some of your subscribers clicked that same link again and again. It can also mean they forwarded the message to other people who also clicked that link.

These click reports are secret windows through which you can see your readers’ reactions to your messages. Keep track of these email marketing KPIs to learn what will keep them engaged in the future.

What Influences Whether or Not a Subscriber Will Click

Just like with opens, there are a number of factors that can contribute to whether or not someone clicks on something in your email. The five main factors will be covered here.

  • The Layout of Your Email
    User experience is important – if it’s not easy and clear how to interact with your emails, chances are you won’t get much interaction. 
  • The Colors You Use
    People respond to certain colors favorably. You can test your entire design, changing the color of your links, buttons, text, and background. 
  • Using Links vs. Buttons
    This is another test that comes up with different results for different people. It may have something to do with how you’re using the link or button. Or, you may find that your audience prefers one over the other. 
  • The Words You Use
    We all know that when it comes to persuasion, how you say something in your web form is of utmost importance. This article shares ten tests on how different phrases can bring in different results. 
  • The Placement in Your Email
    Should you have the link or button at the top or button? Ultimately, that’s up to you, and something you should test out.  

#3 Sales

man entering card into card machine and making a sale

Sometimes the goal of your email will be much larger than a click – it will be a sale. While some clicks may actually be a sale, it’s important to track these two email marketing KPIs separately so you know exactly how much you’re making off your emails.

Sales tracking shows you just who clicked over to your site and made a purchase.

What Influences Whether or Not A Subscriber Will Make a Purchase

Subscribers will be more likely to make a purchase if they:

  • Know why they should buy from you, not your competitor. You have to stand out from the crowd somehow. What makes you unique? Do you have a niche audience? Better support? Better prices? Make sure you know what makes you different, then communicate that to your audience.
  • Don’t have any obstacles. The subscriber clicks on a link in your email. They’re taken to a page that asks them to purchase the product by clicking another link. That page has another link to click. So does the next. Does this sound like fun? Probably not. You want to make the process as simple and quick as possible so a prospect doesn’t change their mind. For example, if you’re a restaurant owner, you will want to redirect customers from your online ordering system directly to the online menu where they can place an order.
  • Are familiar with your product. What it is you’re selling shouldn’t be a mystery – you should have as many details available as possible. This can be in the form of FAQs, case studies, blog posts, etc. If your prospects are familiar with what you have to offer AND why they need it, they’ll be more likely to buy.
  • Trust you. You must present yourself as a credible business that people can trust. Testimonials, security badges and awards are all great ways to do this.

#4 Traffic

busy crowd

Sales aren’t made in emails. They’re made on websites. Marketing emails are meant to attract people’s attention and then take them (via links) to your site where they can browse, share or purchase.

If you are sending an email with the purpose of increasing traffic to your site, and it doesn’t, you need to know. And if another email shows unusually high movement, again, you should know about it.

What Influences The Amount of Traffic I Get?

Advertising and search engine ranking are big ones, but when it comes to email there’s one big one: sharing.

If you can get readers to share your information with others, you have free advertising. One way this can happen is if a subscriber forwards the message to a friend. Another way is through social media.

You should include social sharing buttons right in your email. This will remind subscribers they can share and make it easy for them to do so. 

What to Do With Your Traffic Reports

Occasionally, you may send an email that completely flops in the traffic-generating department. When that happens, consider what went wrong. Ask yourself:

  • Did I try something unusual and it just didn’t take?
  • Was my call to action unclear?
  • Did I include links in this email? Were any of them broken?
  • Is it what I’m offering that’s turning my readers off, or is it the way I’m offering it?
  • Does it make sense to offer the same thing again, presented in a different way?
  • What happened here that I need to avoid in the future?

Other times, your reports for an email may show uncommonly high traffic. If that happens, pay attention you may have hit on a winning tactic.

Be careful not to make assumptions here you’ve found a winner only if your end goal was accomplished. For example, you may have attracted hundreds of eyes to your site, but your ultimate goal was sales, and you only made two. (Maybe readers were expecting one thing when they clicked and landed on another?)

If you did accomplish your goal, celebrate! You’ve found an email marketing strategy that strongly resonated with your subscribers.

#5 Unsubscribers

door with exit sign above it showing customers wanting to unsubscribe

Most email service providers automatically include a link that subscribers can click to unsubscribe from emails. Once a subscriber clicks that link, they can no longer receive any emails from that sender. The email service provider handles everything for the sender, so if you’re already using one of these providers, all you have to worry about is why people are unsubscribing.

What Influences Whether or Not a Subscriber Unsubscribes?

People unsubscribe from emails for a lot of reasons:

  • They may think you’re sending too many messages. If they’re not super-psyched about the content in them, they may decide the filtering process isn’t worth the bother.
  • They may forget they subscribed in the first place. If you only send messages every once in a while, people may not recognize your email after a long period of latency. (So balance your frequency.)
  • They may be switching to a new email address and planning to resubscribe with their new information.

Whatever the case, unsubscribes will happen. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about them.


Check out these resources to improve your email marketing KPIs:

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AWeber is an all-in-one marketing solution specializing in email marketing. Their platform is used by over 300,000 creators, side-hustlers, and small businesses around the world. Their web-based tools help businesses grow by staying in touch with customers and prospects. AWeber allows customers to send emails, create landing pages, and collect payments online all from a single platform.