🪄 Our new AI-powered features are here! Learn more.

15 email engagement metrics to know and how to improve them

Email engagement metrics
15 metrics to measure email engagement
Tips to increase email engagement
Final thoughts

Getting people to open your emails is one battle, getting them to engage and convert is another. In addition to open rates, it’s important to examine a variety of different engagement rates to determine the effectiveness of your email marketing strategy and content.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some email engagement metrics to monitor and provide helpful tips to increase engagement with your email campaigns.

15 metrics to measure email engagement

Choosing which metrics to measure is a big part of gauging whether or not your email engagement is successful. Of course, “success” depends entirely on your business objectives, so the metrics you measure should be tied directly to your goals.

Below are 15 email metrics to consider measuring. We’ve included formulas to help you understand how email marketing platforms and automation tools calculate these rates.

Note: For metrics measured over time, be sure to keep the period consistent.

1. Bounce rate

Email bounce rate measures how many emails didn’t make it to the recipient’s inbox. There are two types of bounce rates to consider:

  • Hard bounces are permanent, meaning the email address is inactive or fake, or the email was blocked by an inbox provider.

  • Soft bounces are temporary and can be due to large attachments or the recipient’s mailbox being full.

High bounce rates harm your overall domain health and sender reputation, which damages your ability to deliver emails. If someone never receives their email, they can’t engage with it, which means your bounce rate affects your engagement metrics. Aim for a bounce rate of 2% or below and be sure to practice good email list hygiene.

How to calculate

(number of bounces / number of attempted sends) x 100

2. Deliverability rate

Your email deliverability rate is the percentage of your emails that make it to the recipient’s inbox, (rather than ending up in their spam folder). Similarly to your bounce rate, this metric doesn’t measure engagement, but poor deliverability will reduce your engagement.

How to calculate

(number of all sent messages – bounced messages) / number of all sent messages ) x 100

3. Clickthrough rate (CTR)

Clickthrough rate, or CTR, is the number of clicks per email delivered. If your emails include links (excluding your unsubscribe link) and have a call-to-action (CTA), this metric can help you gauge how effective that is.

How to calculate

(email clicks / emails delivered) x 100

4. Click-to-open rate (CTOR)

CTOR is the number of clicks on your emails out of the total number of unique opens. This can be a more accurate representation of how engaging your content was to the people who viewed it, by excluding those who didn’t open.

How to calculate

(email clicks / emails opened) x 100

5. Sharing or forwarding rates

Sharing or forwarding rates measure the percentage of people who shared or forwarded your email. Like CTR and CTOR, this metric demonstrates how engaging your email’s content is, but it can also help you to grow your list with new subscribers.

How to calculate

(number of forwards or shares / number of emails delivered) x 100

6. Conversion rate

In sales, a conversion means someone became a customer. In email marketing, it usually means they took any action on your email, such as clicking or forwarding. An email conversion rate measures the percentage of recipients who took an action on your email (unfortunately, unsubscribes don’t count).

Be sure to seek agreement on what your marketing team and the wider business considers a conversion for reporting purposes.

How to calculate

(number of actions / number of emails delivered) x 100

7. Spam complaint rate

The spam complaint rate is the percentage of people who report your emails as spam. It’s important to keep an eye on this since, as with hard bounces, getting reported as spam has detrimental effects on your domain health. Be sure to include an unsubscribe link on all your emails, as per the CAN-SPAM Act and GDPR, to mitigate this.

How to calculate

(number of spam complaints / number of delivered emails) x 100

8. Unsubscribe rate

Your unsubscribe rate is the percentage of people who unsubscribed from your email list. Unsubscribes shouldn’t always be viewed as a negative as they help with email list hygiene and improve conversion rates.

Email unsubscribe rate

(number of unsubscribes / number of emails delivered) x 100

9. Churn rate

This is the percentage of people who left your list in a given period of time, whether they unsubscribed, marked your emails as spam or bounced.

How to calculate

(number of subscribers who left your list in a given time period / number of subscribers you currently have) x 100

10. Sign-up rate per channel

Sign-up rate per channel is the percentage of people who become an email subscriber on a particular sign-up form, pop-up form, email landing page or website.

You can increase your overall sign-up rate over the long term by understanding the types of emails your subscribers want to receive and providing high-quality email content. By looking at the sign-up rate on individual channels or forms, however, you can zoom in on where you might need to optimize your copy or CTA on a specific form.

How to calculate

(number of email signups / number of visitors or viewers) x 100

11. List growth rate

Your list growth rate measures the pace at which your email list is growing overall, across all channels. Keep in mind that a slow or negative list growth rate might be because people are unsubscribing, not because fewer people are signing up. Refer to other metrics for context before investing resources in getting more subscribers.

How to calculate

(number of new subscribers – number of subscribers who left your list in a given time period) / number of subscribers you currently have ) x 100

12. Revenue per email

This is a measure of the average revenue a single email produces. This metric can help you gauge the overall effectiveness of your email marketing in driving revenue over the long term.

For example, if your list growth rate appears to be slowing, your churn rate is steady, but your revenue per email is going up, you’ll know to focus on driving more sign-ups versus tweaking your email content.

How to calculate

(total revenue generated by email / total number of emails sent)

13. Revenue per open email

This is the average revenue that each opened email generates. Similar to CTR vs CTOR, revenue per open email is sometimes considered a more accurate measure of the success of the engagement of your emails.

How to calculate

(total revenue generated by email / number of emails opened)

14. Revenue per subscriber

This measures the revenue an average subscriber provides. It is an important metric when looking at different audience segments.

For example, if you’re a software company that sells different products, looking at your revenue per subscriber can help you determine which product’s email list you should prioritize growing to reach your revenue targets, in addition to which audience segments’ emails could use improvement.

How to calculate

(total revenue generated by email / number of recipients to whom you sent the message)

15. Profitability per email

This metric can also help you confirm that email marketing provides a good enough return on investment to remain part of your digital marketing strategy.

If your email marketing is bringing revenue but at a high cost, this metric will show you that you need to change up your strategy.

How to calculate

(total revenue generated by email – campaign cost – cost of goods sold / total number of emails sent)

Tips to increase email engagement

Beyond high-quality content that either educates, entertains or solves your audience’s problem (or maybe all three), here are some ways you can improve your email engagement metrics.

Ask subscribers to add your email address to their address book

Reminding subscribers to add your email address to their contacts can go a long way. Providing step-by-step instructions for the various inbox providers and email clients can take you even further.

While this may seem like common knowledge to a frequent email user, simple processes like this are confusing to some. Meeting subscribers where they are and showing them exactly how to make sure your emails reach their inbox will make them feel seen and increase the odds of them following through on the request.

Make your emails scannable

Similarly to blog posts, the most engaging emails are scannable. This means utilizing header tags and bold texts to denote different sections, making your images large enough to see but not so large one has to scroll too many times to get past them. This also means clearly denoted links, buttons and CTAs.

Learn more in our guide to how to format an email.

Optimize for mobile

Optimizing your emails for both mobile and desktop will ensure a better reading experience for all audiences and, in turn, improve engagement and conversions.

This means following mobile email marketing best practices and also ensuring your emails are mobile responsive so they display properly across various devices.

Have just one main call-to-action (CTA) per email

This isn't a hard and fast rule, since newsletters will frequently link to multiple pages. For promotional emails, however, having just one CTA narrows the focus of the email and prevents subscribers from getting distracted, thereby increasing conversions.

Add social proof or testimonials

Reviews and testimonials from happy customers and clients can help convert prospects on the fence about trying your product or service.

User-generated content (e.g. social media posts) is also a great tool to leverage because it shows your product or service out in the “real” world. When subscribers see people using your product, they’ll likely visualize using it themselves, which is an important step in the consideration journey.

Remove any guesswork or extra steps

This goes for both email subject lines and content. Intrigue and mystery are effective copywriting techniques, but only when used sparingly. Use clear subject lines that let subscribers know exactly what they can expect when opening your email. On the content side, put the information you want the subscriber to know in the actual email, when possible, versus simply linking to it.

Segment your list

The more specific and relevant content you provide in your emails, the more likely people are to engage with it. This can be achieved by segmenting your list into different audiences and creating valuable, helpful content specific to their interests and pain points.

Test your campaigns

Typos, broken links, and images that don’t load all contribute to subscribers losing trust in your brand. If you manage your business’s email marketing campaigns (versus a third party with strict quality control), make sure you build testing into your email marketing process.

Final thoughts

Much like any other type of marketing analytics, context is key when it comes to email engagement rates. KPIs and industry benchmarks provide a needed foundation, but no email marketing metrics should be examined in a vacuum.

When trying to make sense of email engagement rates to understand your email’s performance, be sure to dig into a variety of metrics to get the full picture.

Driving business growth