Measuring Your Performance

Purpose of this page.

To identify a simple set of data metrics to measure the performance of your emails.

Explore and analyze the data giving you guidance on how to improve your email performance.

Table of Contents 

  • Engage your email service provider (ESP) to track the performance of your email messages with Google Analytics

  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) supporting the two recommended tracking strategies

    • Open Rate

    • Click Through Rate

    • Website traffic

    • Conversion rate

    • Unsubscribe rate

    • Bounce rate

    • List growth rate

  • Testing your email messages to improve performance

  • Timing question – When’s the best time to send Email Marketing messages?

  • Google Analytics – Measuring your performance

  • Recommendations for you

Engage your email service provider (ESP) to track the performance of your email messages

  • What are the most important metrics to focus on?

  • Recommend two sets of complimentary tracking strategies.|

  • First set – track message results based on message content.

    • Subscriber engagement

    • Subscriber behavior

    • Message outcomes

  • Second set – tracking how well are the messages doing in getting the subscribers to move through the Marketing Funnel.

    • Where are the subscribers in the funnel?

    • Are the messages efficient in moving the subscribers along?

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) supporting the two recommended tracking strategies.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) – start with the set shown below:

These are the most important to track determining how effective your email marketing strategy is.

You can go deeper into the analysis with more complex KPIs later on.

This set will get you on your way to keep pushing your email messages positively to superb performance.

Here’s the KPIs

Open Rate – how calculated – messages opened ÷ messages sent

1. Why is Open Rate important?

Open Rate tells you a recipient is interested enough in your subject line, sender name, and preview snippet to open the message.

You should want to take that initial measure and move it up in a positive direction through a split testing process to reach (and surpass) your end goal for conversions.

You will be testing subject line, sender name, and preview snippet.

Open rate is a measure of that positive direction.

2. The Open Rate equation should be – messages opened ÷ messages delivered.

But an accurate number for the quantity of messages delivered is almost impossible to get.

That brings up a caution – Open Rate numbers may not be an accurate statistic to track due to the unknown delivery factor.

3. Suggest to look at the Open Rate figures as a trend analysis. Hopefully, it’s in a positive upward trend.

4. Here are some tips to move your Open Rate up. (Candidates for A/B Split testing)

Make your subject lines powerful (keywords, emotional benefits).

Explore ways to have the content of the subject line and preview snippet be more relevant to the recipient’s problem or want.

Test a change to the sender name.

Send messages at a different time of day or weekday.

Test changing the frequency on sending your messages.

Explore adjusting your list segmentation.

Make sure you are not using spam triggers.

Click Through Rate – how calculated – clicks on links within a message ÷ messages opened.

1. Why is this important?

It’s a measure on how convincing your message is to have the reader click the link to your conversion.

The metric informs you if your email conversion funnel is working or not.

You may have reached your goal.

But, if your goal is for the recipient to make a purchase, you’ll have to add analytics to track the purchase action process.

This track would be part of your marketing funnel.

2. Basically, the click through rate tells you recipients are interested in the content of your message and want to find out more info by clicking a link.

3. Here are some tips to increase your Click Through Rate.

Explore ways to have the sub-headlines and body content of your message be more relevant to the recipient’s problem or want.

Test alternate keywords. (A long tail keyword?)

Add an emotional benefit in the text. Just one will do.

Can you make your call-to-action more powerful, clear, or urgent?

Follow SEO guidelines to make your message more readable.

Having images or a link to a video.

Don’t hide links. Make them standout.

Explore adjusting your list segmentation (ref. Segment Page).

Design the message to be mobile friendly.

Website Traffic

1. Why is Website Traffic important?

2. It’s important to know where your traffic is coming from.

3. This metric identifies where the traffic to your website comes from.

Email Marketing messages, visits from other pages on your website.

You will need to assign a unique URL to the other page sites for tracking purposes.

You may want to explore adjusting those other sites to improve traffic flow to the website page where the conversion is located. It’s an opportunity.

Conversion Rate – calculated by – number of people who completed the desired action ÷ number of emails sent

1. Why is Conversion Rate important?

It’s a measure against your goal.

Are you generating conversions?

It’s the measure on how well your marketing funnel is working to achieve your conversions goal.

And you can measure if your split testing is showing improvements in your marketing funnel on conversions.

2. Your action to track might be:

Ebook downloads

Webinar sign-ups

Free trial schedules

Free demo schedules


3. What could you do with the conversion data?

Discover the average revenue received for each message sent.

Calculate campaign profitability.

Find out the ROI of a campaign.

Discover marketing funnel improvements.

Unsubscribe Rate – contacts unsubscribed ÷ messages sent.

1. Why is Unsubscribe Rate important?

Use the figure to identify an upward or downward trend.

If upward, it’s a message to take action.

Don’t consider the Unsubscribe Rate in your decision making.

2. May not be accurate – doesn’t include the number of people who don’t bother to respond to the unsubscribe link.

3. Work with the Open Rate and Click Through Rate instead to analyze the way people interact with your messages.

Bounce Rate – messages delivering bounces ÷ messages sent.

1. Bounce rate – Usually a quick in and out when a visitor accesses your website.

2. Why is Bounce Rate important?

Why send messages to bounced email addresses?

It affects your deliverability rate.

If the bounce rate is significant, you should clean your email list.

Most ESPs will remove the affected addresses for you.

3. Two terms for bounce – a hard bounce and a soft bounce. Both are bad.

Hard bounce – an email address is permanently broken. No way to deliver your message.

Soft bounce – the reader reviews only one page of your site.

List Growth Rate – ([new subscribers – (unsubscribes + bounced email addresses removed from your list)] ÷ email addresses on your list) X 100

1. Why is List Growth Rate important?

Your goal is to grow your email list over time.

This metric is a measure of the growth rate.

Keep your growth rate positive to align with your goals.

If the growth rate is negative, it tells you to take action.

In your split testing, you can look at the affects your tested changes make in your growth rate.

Keep testing to discover the positive growth factors.

Testing your email messages to improve performance.

Why is testing important?

Say your email marketing funnel is working well.

Are you going to be complacent and not try to improve it?

Well, you’re throwing bucks out the window.

There are always improvements out there.

Just have to have a way to discover them.

What if your competitor has been split testing messages and all of a sudden plows ahead of you in conversions?

You’re dumbfounded. What happened?

Before that happens, let’s leave that competitor behind and outpace him in sales.

You must continually test your email messages to improve performance.

Yes, it is work.

But you will be happy, happy, happy when you find out it was worth it.

Be the winner, not the loser.

Here’s one way to do an A/B Split Test to gather performance data.

Start by testing changes to the Email Box Subject Line, the Inbox Preview Snippet, Sender Name, and the Call to Action in the message body.

Just a few variables. A few key elements listed above.

Recommend the following A/B testing example.

1. You create a message inviting people on your email list to join your Golf Country Club for the next season.

2. The message includes an Email Subject Line, a Sender, an Inbox Preview Snippet, and a message with a Call-to-Action.

3. That’s your control message.

This is the “A” part of your A/B split test.

4. Create a second message changing just the subject line.

Everything else remains the same.

Suggestion is to change the subject line to include an emotional benefit.

This will be your test message (“B” part of the A/B split test)

5. Ten percent of the audience gets the “A” message. Another ten percent gets the “B” message.

6. Run the test for 48 hours

Review the results.

Identify the winning message based on the Open Rate and Click Through Rate.

Keep testing

Take the winner of the above test and let’s change the Inbox Preview Snippet.

Maybe change the benefit in the text.

It must be relevant to the subject line.

Follow the same process shown above.

Pick the winner and try another test.

You can perform as many A/B tests as you want.

Here are a few changes to be tested. A list of 20 email message elements to test is available.

1. Subject line.

2. Inbox preview snippet.

3. Call to action offer.

4. Add an image.


Keep your marketing funnel design in mind as you’re performing the tests.

Timing question – When’s the best time to send Email Marketing messages?

Actually, being realistic, there are too many variables involved to pick a good day and a time to send Email Marketing messages.

But some businesses recommend the following days and times.

Tuesday, Thursday, and Wednesday are the best days in that order.

Timing – 10 AM, followed by 11 AM.

Remember the time-zones.

Based on the product, such as a Golf Country Club Membership, a Saturday or Sunday may be a better day to send an Email Marketing message.

Google Analytics – Measuring your performance

  • Sign-up for Google Analytics at 

  • Install the Google tracking code on all of your web pages.

    • With a WordPress platform, you can use the plugin from MonsterInsights.

    • Or through Google Tag Manager, the Duracell Tomi’s plugin.

    • Verify you installed the tracking code correctly.

      • To verify that the tracking code is working, visit your website and check to see that your visit is being registered in the Real-Time reports.

    • With the installed tracking code, you can now track people entering your website and what they do.

    • Select your time horizon in the upper right corner.

    • You will have to input your goals into the Google Analytics file.

    • There’s a ton of info available from Googles Analytics.

      • The user interface is a challenge.

      • But be patient.

      • Access to the basic data is through the menu tabs in the left-hand column of the screen.

    • Look at four groups in the menu tabs:

      • Audience – Gives the characteristics of your website visitors.

      • Acquisition – Answers the question: What path did people follow to get on your website?

      • Behavior – What did they do once they landed on your website?

      • Conversions – Did the visitor actually buy something or clicked access to a file such as a lead magnet?

      • More detail on the four groups. Review the next section labeled “Google Analytics”

    • If you have a problem, there is a Help file under the three dots, upper right.

Recommendations for you.

  • Emails you send have an objective and a goal.

  • Measure your success against achieving your goal with the set of metrics reviewed in this Page.

  • Set-up a tracking system with the help of your ESP to measure performance for every email campaign, autoresponder, and automated sequence you send.

    • Use Google Analytics.

  • Get into the A/B Split testing process to continually improve your email performance.

  • Don’t ever give up testing.

  • Additional performance metrics can be introduced when a deeper analysis is warranted.

  • Review the next section for additional Analytics detail and procedure.

Google Analytics

Additional detail on Analytics definitions and procedure


  • A session is recorded when someone interacts with your website.

  • A 30 minute inactivity period ends the session.


  • Must not block cookies or disable Java Script on your browser.

  • Do not have a plugin installed on your computer to opt out of being tracked by Google Analytics.

  • Bounce Rate is the percentage of sessions where someone only viewed a single page on your website.

Four tabs to look at in detail on the Google Analytics page

  • Audience – Gives the characteristics of your website visitors.

    • Tells you how many

      • Sessions you had in the time period you chose.

      • Unique users

      • Page views

      • Bounce Rate

    • A few interesting things to look at

      • Geo > location – where are you getting your traffic from?

      • Technology > browser – who’s using what browser? What version are they using?

      • Mobile > overview – How much traffic came from mobile devices? What’s the most popular phone? Click on devices

      • User flow – Google draws you a picture how a user flows through your website.

  • Acquisition – Answers the question: What path did people follow to get to your website?

    • Click overview showing how people came to your website.

    • Can dig into any one of the categories shown, such as social.

    • Find the source of traffic in each category.

    • If you’re running AdWords, it will tell you what campaigns you’re running on. Group and actual keywords.

    • Search Console – connection to Web Master tools.

    • Social – drills into your social media.

    • Campaigns – if you set-up any kind of campaign using the Google URL builder.

  • Behavior – What did they do once they landed on your website.

    • Behavior flow – a picture how people go thru your website.

    • Site content – answers question “What is the most popular page on this website?”

    • Landing page – “What is the first page people touch?”

    • Exit page – last page they touched.

    • Site speed – How fast has your website’s been? Will give you some suggestions on how to improve your site’s speed.

    • Page Analytics – doesn’t work anymore in Google Analytics. Go to the Chrome plugin.

      The plugin will tell you the percentage of people who click to what link.

  • Conversions – Did the visitor actually buy something or clicked access to a file such as a lead magnet?

    • Answers question – “Did people complete the goals of the website?”

    • You have to define your goals – separate section below on how to do this.

    • Click on goals tab – tells you the number of goal completions. Look at the breakdown of the goals.

Going beyond the basics

  • A goal in Google Analytics is usually a sale or a sales lead.

  • How to define a goal. And once you define one, how to get them to work in segments so you can understand who is completing your goals.

    • Start the process of goals by reminding people to remember the real world.

  • Inside Analytics, you can go to Conversions > Goals.

    • But there is nothing there to tell you how to define a goal.

  • So instead, click on the Admin tab.

    • On the right under view, go to goals.

    • That’s where you define the goals.

  • Click on goals > new goals and follow the instructions.

    • An example of a goal is when someone gets sent a “Thank You” for a conversion.

    • Goal is complete every time someone gets a Thanks sent to them after a conversion with something like an email form

  • Once you have defined the goal in the Admin tab, you can see performance results in the reporting tab.

    • In the reporting tab, click on goals > overview > all goals.

    • Your goal result shows up as something like “94 clicks on your email form in the last month”

Using goals with segments

  • Your goal conversion (email sign-ups) can originate from – YouTube, Facebook, Organic.

  • Using segments as a goal performance result.

    • Go into Overview > segments, click on   Compare traffic from – YouTube, Facebook, Organic.

    • Click “Apply”

    • Look at results at the top of the screen. Then click overview to goals.

  • Turn this around. Click on advanced segments. Go to system, find “Converters”

    • Converters are somebody who did a goal of some type.

  • People who completed a goal, where did they come from?

    • Click on Acquisition and you answer that question.

    • In this case, social is a lot of the traffic – almost 20%.

    • It’s YouTube – it’s very valuable.

    • Flipping it around, you can have a goal as being a segment.

  • Wrap up summary

    • You need to define your goals on your website. A simple goal is something like a feedback form.

    • You have a “Thank You” on a URL to memorialize the completion of the form.

    • You can go into Analytics to define a goal, but they are hidden under the Admin tab. You need to record those goals immediately. You can’t go back in time.

    • Finally, you can use goals in combination with segments to be very powerful in slicing and dicing your data. And look at where they came from.

 If you have any questions or need help, please contact me at:

Paul Heiler
585 703-0646

“I help businesses attract and turn leads into customers and brand ambassadors by creating, implementing, and testing low-cost, high-impact Email Marketing campaigns.”