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Understanding email campaign performance

It is critical to examine in detail the performance of every email campaign that you run. There are many Key Performance Indicators “KPIs”, to look at, CTR, EOR, ECR and more. In this article, we go through each and explain how to best understand your email campaign performance and how it could be improved.


What does Click Through Rate really mean?

The term email click through rate “CTR” is often used as a key parameter to decide whether an email campaign has been successful or not.  But is it really that useful?  Lets first define precisely what it is.


Where “Total clicks” means all clicks made. “Total emails successfully delivered” includes all emails delivered, opened and unopened, but excludes hard or soft bounces.

So what does this tell us about how successful the campaign was? The answer is very little, there are too many unknowns if you only look at the CTR. Let’s look at some other more insightful KPIs.

What does Email Open Rate “EOR” mean?

This is pretty self explanatory, what percentage of delivered emails were actually opened. This covers two important aspects of your campaign.

Firstly, how good was your subject line and preview text? Remember, most users will spend 1 or 2 seconds reading a subject line and the preview text, to decide to open the actual email or not.

A low EOR, could indicate a poorly constructed subject line and or preview text.

Secondly, how good was your targeting? Were you sending the email to users who just weren’t interested? No matter how good your subject line, if its not relevant, they won’t open it.

Therefore both aspects need to be examined, if EOR is lower than expected.

Is Click to Open Rate “CTOR” important?

Yes. Click to open rate helps understand how engaged the users are, once an email is actually opened.  The name can be slightly misleading, but the equation below should make it clear. Only considering opened emails, how many clicks were made? A CTOR of 100% means 1 link was clicked for every opened email. 200% means 2 clicks and so on.

This is a great way to gauge how well written and easy to use your email was. It disregards unopened or undelivered emails, so this really does measure user engagement, once a user has made the decision to actually open your email.

How can you improve CTOR?

A key point to remember is that users don’t generally read word by word everything you write. They skim through the text, looking for keywords and phrases that interest them. Keep it short, concise and clean.

Make sure your email is easy to scan, so that the important phrases are simple to find.

Critically, make sure your important content is first.

How can I improve Email Conversion Rate?

Let’s first agree a baseline definition of Email Conversion Rate, ECR. We define this as the total number of successful operations on a landing page, divided by the total number of clicks. The operation (sometimes referred to as a Call to Action) might be to sign up for a newsletter, purchase a product, sign up to a subscription and so on.

Marketwise doesn’t have visibility of the CTA, so we cannot track ECR directly.

The critical factor for improving ECR is the landing page.

It must be clear, easy to use, and remove any fears a user might have. Details can really make a huge difference. A good summary of landing page changes that have been shown to work can be found here.

In summary, as we have seen, it is very difficult getting a user to your landing page, so it is time well spent to optimise it for a high conversion rate.

At Marketwise, our email campaign statistics reports include all critical metrics, so you can judge how successful your campaign has been. We also provide recommendations for what to try to improve for future email campaigns. Lastly, we can also track your campaigns over time, to help show how your performance is changing.

For more information on email marketing, head back to our main page.

FAQ for Email Marketing


Is email marketing worth it?

Many studies have shown a great ROI for email marketing, averaging at a 30x to 40x return. The key is to use high quality data and send relevant, engaging messages. We can advise.

How do I target email marketing?

Build your ideal audience. Based on what market segment they work in, what they do and what they specialise in. Add in geographic location and you have a well targeted email list. Now you need to send relevant and interesting messages to build trust.

How do I improve email open rates?

Two main factors. The subject line and email deliverability. The subject line should be short, create some intrigue or curiosity and avoid spammy words. You build trust with an audience over time.
Email deliverability depends on good email data and a good email reputation.

How do I improve my CTR?

Some quick tips are:
Keep your message short, to the point and easily skim-able.
Be relevant and create curiosity in your audience
Have a single Call to Action button with a clear message on it "Download the report".

What is A/B testing?

This simply means testing two versions of something. Most common is Subject Line testing. Send out two different versions and see which gets the best response. Testing message content is possible as well. Ensure you only change one thing, so you know what made a difference.

How can I avoid the Spam filters?

Two main causes:
1. Technical reasons, poor email reputation and lack of email authentication.
2. Message content is spammy. Cut out flowery language and keep it professional.

What is contact nurturing?

This simply means sending multiple messages over time, to build up trust and a stronger relationship with your audience. Its rare to be able to send a single message and expect a brilliant response. Build trust with a series of engaging messages.