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In this article, we’re going to discuss tracking and testing, or as I like to call it, email analytics. There’s not going to be a quiz at the end, but I hope for your sake you’ve been paying attention because you’re well on the way to becoming an email marketing maven.

Email Analytics: Tracking

First, let’s talk about tracking. Tracking your email marketing statistics is vital if you’re going to be sending emails. Sending emails without tracking results is like taking a test and never getting a grade back from your teacher. I’m going to tell you everything you need to be tracking and how to determine if your emails are performing well, then we’ll get into the fun part: testing.

Open Rate
Ok, I’ll be honest, Open rates are super important, but it’s also a bit of a vanity metric. While they determine how strong your subject line is, and your overall important in someone’s inbox, it’s not going to tell you how good your email actually is. So open rate is just that, it measures how many people opened your email out of the number of people you sent it to.

Industry standards for open rates range from 18-25%. Look up your industry specifically to see how you compare. If you’re not getting average rates, then it’s time to tweak your emails.

Click-Through Rate
The click-through rate is how many people click your call to action. This is a pretty good indication of how your content is performing, and you should be averaging about 2-3% CTR each email. If your click-through rates are low, you’re probably not selling very well. Try changing your call to action, or your content approach altogether.

Click to Open Rate
This is my favorite measurement. Because I’m a nerd. This measures how many people clicked through the email out of the people that opened it. This is a better indicator of how well your copy is performing because it’s only tracking the people that opened the email in the first place. Now CTORs, as I adoringly call them, are all over the map, so check what’s normal in your industry. I’ve sent emails that get 1% CTOR, and I’ve sent emails that get 50%. It’s totally dependent on your audience, but obviously the higher it performs, the better your email is.

No one wants to see who unsubscribes, it hurts our feelings. But it’s actually pretty important to track. It measures how many people are asking not to receive your emails ever again. I recommend trying to stay below 1% here. If you’re getting an exorbitant amount of unsubscribes, then it’s time to look at your content, and how often you’re emailing.

Spam Complaints
Another dismal metric, spam complaints are how many people mark your email as spam. It’s super important that you’re watching these, because if you get too many of these, Gmail, Yahoo, and other email platforms may start flagging you and won’t deliver any of your emails to your entire list. Scary.

So being the nerd that I am, I like to have a spreadsheet of all of these metrics laid out for every email that I send. I recommend that you make one too. That way, you can see your monthly averages, check on which emails perform best, and also make sure that your metrics aren’t dipping down into negative territory. You want to do better every week!

So how do you make sure you’re improving with every email? I’m glad you asked. It’s all about testing, yo. And I’m gonna teach you how to do it.

Email Analytics: Testing

Testing, testing, 1-2-3. It’s about as easy as 1-2-3, anyways. Most email providers have A/B tests built into their campaigns, so all you have to do is choose that option when sending a campaign. What you’re testing is where it gets a little tricky, so let’s go over what you can test in these emails.

Subject line tests
First and probably the most popular are subject line tests. To be honest, I run a subject line test on almost every email I send, and not just because my boss and I disagree on what to say. The truth is, you may never know what is going to convert best. That’s why testing is so awesome, you can run a campaign to deliver to 20% of your audience and determine the winner based on open rates. Then the other 80% get the winning subject line and BAM you just increased your open rates exponentially. (It’s also really cool to brag when you’re the one that wrote the winning subject line.)

When you’re planning out your subject lines, I do two different things. First, I run over to CoSchedule’s subject line analyzer, which is going to give you a “headline score.” Because I trust them so much, I usually don’t use a headline that gets under a 70 score. They’ll analyze it and even tell you certain word types you’re missing. Go check it out for yourself.

The second thing I do when testing subject lines is to pick one very exciting, edgy subject and one boring, run of the mill, straightforward subject. This is going to help you get to know your audience better, and it’s probably going to surprise you! Some people click on the edgy subjects because they’re like “wtf is this” whereas sometimes you’ll find the boring straightforward subject tells them everything they need to know to open it. Run a few tests and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

Images vs. plain text
So like I said in my last post, it’s important to have a format and style that is consistent. But before you decide on that style, I recommend testing a few variations. This is another thing that your email provider will let you do, which is test email content. I usually test using images vs using plain text first. A lot of times, surprisingly, you may find that plain text just converts better, especially when announcing a sale. Play around with your format and see what works for your reader.

Who it’s from
If you remember what I said in the last post, you’ll know that I recommended having an email come from a specific person on your team (or you). If you just use your name, will they know who you are? Or do you need to say your name from your company? Test these against each other and see which gets higher open rates. You only need to do this once or twice. Any more, and you’re going to confuse the subscriber on who they’re getting an email from.

When running tests, make sure to only run ONE at a time. This is the only way you can determine what works and what doesn’t. If you have 3 tests running, and it’s the best email you’ve ever sent, you won’t be able to tell if it was the subject line, the content, or the from name. See the dilemma here?

You’ve officially completed Email Marketing Strategy 101. There isn’t going to be a test, but I hope that you’ll test yourself each day by trying to send even better emails with better statistics every time. If you want to start again at the beginning, or want us to cover more of your email marketing strategy questions, just reach out in the comments and let us know! Happy emailing, friends.

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About the author

Molly Corless

Molly has been marketing for small startups for over 5 years. From marketing automation to Facebook ads to copywriting, Molly has figured out the key to growing a business from the ground up. She lives in rainy Portland, Oregon with her dog named Hamms.


  1. Michele lazarus

    Hello i missed out on the whole thing here ???? Ur marketing offer !!!! What is it about ???? Im interested in learning this marketing thing and marketing !!!! Can u help me please !!! Do u know of any offers i can get into and learn from ???? I need help on this and dont know what offers are good ones ???? Can u please help ???? Thank u !!! Michele lazarus

    1. Kristen DeCosta

      Hi Michele! This post is part of a 5-part series! You can read all of them for more information on email marketing! If you subscribe to our blog, you will receive an email everytime a new post goes up! Please take a look through our blog, we have lots of great instructional pieces on marketing your business! Hope we can help you :)

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