No matter how successful your email marketing campaigns may be, there’s always room for improvement. There’s always something you can tweak to garner even better results for your upcoming campaigns.

Plus, as the marketing world continues to evolve and adapt, it’s crucial you don’t get stuck in a rut or become too complacent about your campaigns. Constantly monitoring your results, adapting them, and retesting them is the way to ensure you’re always one step ahead of the competition.

So, what can you learn from the data you gathered last year? How can you go one step better in 2019?

Below, we take a look at different email metrics, what they indicate, and how you can make those all-important improvements.

Why are my email open rates falling?

  1. You’re not sending your campaigns at the right time
  2. Your subject lines aren’t engaging readers

Open rates indicate the number of people receiving and reading your emails. If over the last year, this rate has begun to fall or hasn’t improved much, this could be because:

1. You’re not sending your campaigns at the optimum time.

You know engaging with your customers is important to maintaining relevance, but emailing them randomly or haphazardly isn’t the answer.

Recipients need to connect with the right message at the right time.

To see when this might be, take a look at last year’s emails, sorting them in chronological order of your open rates.

What time did you get the highest open rates?

Try sending your next email at this time (and perhaps the same day of the week) to see if this boosts your open rates. This may take a little tweaking and some A/B testing, but you should start to see when the optimum time to get in touch with your readers is.

Also, consider whether you’re getting in touch with your customers too often or not enough. Do your open rates start to trail off if you send a higher/lower number of emails in the week/month? Again, start testing this if you feel this could be the main culprit for your low open rates.

There isn’t a Holy Grail for the best time to send an email or how often to send one—this is entirely dependent on your customers and your brand. So ongoing testing is the way to firmly establish your prime time.

2. Your subject lines aren’t engaging readers.

What’s the first thing your recipients are going to see before they open your email?

Your subject line.

So, if this doesn’t grab their attention, they’re probably not going to open your mail. Equally, if it’s too long and doesn’t show completely, your overall message might get lost.

Look at last year’s emails and see which subject lines got the most attention. Why was this? Were they funny, intriguing, or straight to the point? Did they include certain words like “offer,” “discount,” or “free gift?”

Consider these ideas and look at your website to see which social media and blog posts got the most attention, too. Then, have fun creating some new ones (find more help on subject lines here).

Finally, A/B testing is the ideal way to determine which of these new subject lines work, and which don’t.

Why is no one clicking on my emails?

  1. Your call-to-action isn’t clear
  2. Your content isn’t relevant
  3. Your emails aren’t displaying properly

Happy with your email open rates but not getting many clicks from these opens? Then it may be that your content isn’t engaging your recipients as well as it should.

This could be detrimental to your future campaigns because the more disengaged these recipients become, the less likely they are to open them. And the more likely they are to unsubscribe or mark your messages as spam.

There are a number of reasons why your click-through rate (CTR) may be falling, including:

1. Your call-to-action isn’t clear.

Calls-to-action (CTAs) can be unclear for two primary reasons—they don’t show up well in your email or they aren’t worded very well.

The clickable parts of your emails need to be clearly highlighted. If you’ve just hyperlinked “read more” in the same font as the wording that it’s next to, it might not stand out enough for your readers. So, make sure it’s obvious what your readers should be clicking on.

Equally, ensure your CTA is strong. Do your recipients know why they should click on it?

It’s good practice to include the CTA toward the top of your email (so users don’t have to scroll to find it), perhaps also including one further down in case they want to read through the email. Just like this email from SXSW:

SXSW interactive event of the year registration

Image Source: SXSW

2. Your content isn’t relevant to your subscribers.

As you start to dig deep into your emails’ open and click-through rates, you’ll start to learn what keywords and content your audience responds to. Low CTRs may indicate that the content just isn’t engaging them—they aren’t compelled to find out more.

Make sure you’re using segmentation and personalization to target subscribers based on their behaviors. And to guarantee your segmentation works, ensure you’re constantly updating these databases once a month at a minimum (we get into this more below).

3. Your emails aren’t displaying properly.

If your email doesn’t display correctly on the recipient’s browser or mobile device, they’re not going to bother trying to decipher your message.

To make sure this isn’t the problem, run inbox tests before you send every email. Also, look at your reports to see if the CTRs are lower on certain browsers than others as this could be where your problem lies.

Why are my emails bouncing?

  1. You have an out-of-date list
  2. You aren’t using the double opt-in method

While high bounce rates often ring alarm bells, don’t panic straight away. There could be a reasonable explanation for it. For example, you may have sent the email to more than one list. Understandably, the more emails sent, the higher your bounce rate will be.

1. You have an out-of-date list.

If you haven’t cleaned your email list recently, it’s highly likely there will be addresses that no longer exist.

Make sure you’re getting rid of these types of emails by setting a filter. For example, any email address that results in 2 hard bounces should be excluded from any further campaigns.

2. You aren’t employing the double opt-in model.

The double opt-in model means subscribers have to fill in their email address on your opt-in form before confirming this by clicking on a link in an email.

This ensures they want to receive your emails and 100% confirms their email address. Doing so will help get rid of a lot of invalid emails and disengaged recipients.

Circles double opt-in feature

Image Source: Really Good Emails

Why are people unsubscribing from my emails?

If you’ve noticed an increase in the number of people unsubscribing from your emails, this isn’t a good sign.

Common reasons for this include:

  • Campaigns that are irregularly timed
  • Irrelevant content
  • An incorrectly displayed message
  • No double opt-in model

Often, it’s a combination of these factors that lead to people hitting the “spam” button. But if you can ensure you iron out all of the above issues in your campaigns, it should help lower this unsubscribe rate.

Plus, don’t forget to put those segmented lists to good use, since this will keep your recipients engaged and happy to open your messages. This email from The Greenbank is a wonderful example of personalization at its best:

Greenbank example of personalized email

Image Source: Really Good Emails

Don’t just look at these common email marketing metrics, though.

While all of these metrics and key warning signs are imperative, don’t get so bogged down with these numbers that you miss other vital opportunities.

As we’ve previously mentioned, top-notch marketers will work hard to keep their databases up to date. Once a month, make sure you’re creating or updating segmented lists.

And, if you can, look at Google Analytics to see how much income your email campaigns are generating. The ROI you’re getting will be another key aspect in the analysis of your campaigns.

Other things to analyze from 2018’s campaigns are:

  • Click Maps: These show you what percentage of people clicked on what area of your email. From this, you can see which part of your newsletters are getting the most attention. Look at the elements that get more clicks. This could be an image of people, a CTA button, a GIF, or larger graphics. Learn what works for your customers.
  • Click Distribution Over Time: You may find that there’s a delay between when people are opening your messages and when they’re converting. Peaks at certain times of the day may indicate that you need to trial a different time for sending your messages. For example, if your CTR peaks at night, but you’re sending your email in the morning, this gives people all day to forget about your email. Sending it at night may give you more response because people are able to perform the action you want them to—straight away.

Wrap up

Analyzing last year’s email campaigns is crucial to the success of this year’s. But so is updating your database segments based on this data and refining your strategy to suit your recipients’ needs.

Find out which actions are achieving your goals and which aren’t. Then, refine, retest, and analyze your future campaigns to make those key changes to your email marketing strategy. Remember—even the subtlest of changes could make the biggest of differences.