How to Track and Improve the Effectiveness of Your Email Marketing

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They say content is king. What they should really say is, “effective content is king.” Because after all, as an email marketer, it’s the effectiveness of your marketing content that really counts.

But how can you measure the effectiveness of your email content? What kinds of things should you be looking for, and where should you be focusing the majority of your energy?

They’re good questions, and they’re ones that you should continue to ask yourself after each email marketing campaign you launch. After all, without good feedback it’s hard, if not impossible to improve.

Lucky for us, we’re marketers in the 21st century. And that means we have access to data. Lots of data. So much data it can make your head spin— especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

So let’s take a few minutes and talk about the different metrics you have available to you, which ones you should be tracking, and how each can be used to measure the effectiveness of your email marketing.

Open Rate

If you’re just beginning to build your subscriber list, this is perhaps the most important metric to watch. After all, if no one opens your emails, it’s going to be impossible to test different campaigns and marketing strategies with them.

Open rate is also a great metric to start with, as tracking it is pretty straightforward. Most, if not all, email marketing platforms will show your open rate next to each campaign you send. If you’re a (super awesome) Sendlane user, you’ll likely already be familiar with this. Next to each campaign you’ll notice a percentage:

If your open rate is below the standard for your industry, you’ll want to focus on three key elements:

  1. Your subject line (learn to write an amazing one)
  2. Your send time (learn to optimize for engagement)
  3. Subscriber happiness (learn to keep them smiling)


However, keep in mind that open rate is just the beginning. Once you have an above-average open rate, you’ll want to start focusing on a much more powerful metric— click rate.

Click Rate

Sometimes expressed as CTR, click rate can be a fantastic metric for measuring the effectiveness of your campaigns. Where open rate simply tells you whether you have your audience’s attention, click rate can tell you how engaged they are.

What’s more, just like open rate, click rate is a metric that’s usually calculated for you by your email service provider. In Sendlane, you’ll see it alongside your open rate:

There’s a lot to be said for marketers who can consistently get their audience to click. In fact, a lot of email marketers make it their primary tracked metric. To improve it, try changing:

  1. Your email content (sell the click, not the product)
  2. Your email strategy (learn how to build a great one!)
  3. Your targeting (meet segmenting, your new best friend)


Click rate can give you a clear idea of how your audience feels about the content you’re sending them. If it’s well written, relevant, and targeted they’ll reward you with clicks. Clicks lead to sales. Sales lead to extended vacations in the Bahamas.’

However, before you get too excited, we should probably spend a few minutes talking about click rate’s ugly cousin… unsubscribe rate.


Unsubscribe Rate

When you look at the click rate for your campaigns, what you’re really looking at is the percentage of people who took action after receiving an email from you.

This is a big deal. Motivating your audience to take action isn’t easy to do, and that’s why your unsubscribe rate can be such a potent indicator of the effectiveness of your email content.

Think about it: In order to unsubscribe, an email recipient needs to get your email, stop what they’re doing, open it, and then find the content so irrelevant that they spend time searching for and clicking through on the unsubscribe link.

That takes a lot of energy. For your readers to be that motivated, your email marketing would need to be particularly uninteresting.

Unfortunately—and for reasons too complicated to go into here—this isn’t a metric that marketing platforms provide. In order to track it, you’ll need to look at the total number of unsubscribes on each campaign, and then divide it by the number of recipients. (Click here if you’re a Sendlane user).

For example, if you sent an email to 11,969 subscribers and 1 unsubscribed, that’s an acceptable percentage of 0.008% :

If you can keep that number below 0.2%, consider yourself in the clear. If you’re at 0.2% or above however, here are a few things you can try:

  1. Better segmentation (learn how here)
  2. Different send frequency (how often should you send email?)
  3. Work on your UX (become a user experience ninja here)


At the end of the day, a high open rate and killer click rate won’t matter if your unsubscribe rate is through the roof.  Make sure you’re keeping an eye on it and making adjustments if it ever starts to get out of hand.

Improving Metrics– Always be Testing

If you’re a marketer, and you need to be both tracking metrics and constantly looking for ways to improve. Try A/B testing different emails, campaigns, and landing pages. Try segmenting your lists and sending side-by-side campaigns with just one variable changed. Try emailing your subscribers who open, but don’t click and ask what kind of content they would be more interested in.

Unfortunately, there’s simply more ways to test your marketing than we have room for in this article. But whatever you do— don’t give up!

Marketing is a long-term experiment, not a short-term hustle. Keep honing your skills, learning new strategies (click here to get new tactics sent direct to your inbox), and testing your theories.

And as always, if you have any questions about the crazy world of email marketing, let us know in the comments. Good luck out there!

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Jerrik Neri

Jerrik Neri

Jerrikis a Sendlane warrior by day and an avid and aspiring Web Developer ninja by night. His passion for programming and technology which has cultivated since he was young, has landed him in this company - helping people and fixing code.
When he’s not helping out and fighting for Sendlane’s cause or staring hard at long lines of code, you can find him at the gym trying to lift heavy things, or at home, trying to be the next E-sports gaming professional.
Jerrik Neri