Setting Your Email Marketing KPIs | Emailcenter

With the new year just around the corner, it’s time to identify your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and set yourself appropriate, achievable and measurable targets for your email marketing campaigns this coming year.

What are KPIs?

KPIs are metrics that can be measured to evaluate the performance of a business and its activity. To achieve organisational goals, KPI targets should be set and measured regularly.

In email marketing, KPIs help you to identify how successful a campaign has been, so it’s crucial to set your targets at the beginning of the year to ensure your efforts aren’t going to waste.

What Metrics Should You Be Measuring?

Your chosen KPIs will depend on the nature of your business and the types of email campaigns you are running. For example, if you’re an online retailer then you’ll probably want to record ROI for each email, but if you’re an events company then you’ll want to track the number of sign-ups for an event (or conversions).

Begin by measuring and evaluating a wide range of KPIs and you’ll soon learn which metrics are most meaningful to your business.

The Basic KPIs

There are some basic KPIs that all email marketers should measure, and with a reporting suite like Maxemail’s the task should be pretty straightforward.

Unique Open Rate:

This is the percentage of individuals who received and opened your email, with each recorded only once no matter how many times they reopened it.

Unique Click Rate:

This is the percentage of individuals who opened your email and clicked one or more links within the content, with the individual being recorded only once.

Click to Open Rate:

This uses the unique count and click rates to calculate the percentage of people who have opened your email and then gone on to click a link.

Unsubscribe Rate:

The percentage of people who have clicked the unsubscribe link within your email and requested to be removed from your email list.

Bounce Rate:

The percentage of emails that were returned by the recipient’s mail server as they failed to be delivered. Common reasons are that the email address is incorrect, the recipient’s mailbox is full or your email has been quarantined as spam.

Other KPIs to Consider

Below are some more advanced KPIs, which you may want to set targets for in the coming year.

Spam Complaint Rate:

This is the percentage of people who reported your emails as spam in their inbox. It’s important to keep track of this metric as it can lead to serious issues with your sender reputation where your IP address could be blocked by email clients, such as Yahoo! and Google.

List Growth Rate:

This is the percentage at which your list is growing and can be calculated by New Subscribers – (Unsubscribes + Hard Bounces) / Size of List

You should look to achieve a positive and steady growth rate, as the quality of your list is more important than the quantity.


The metric for this will vary depending on the call to action of your email, but it essentially measures whether a campaign is successful in achieving its desired goal. For example, the conversion rate could relate to the number of purchases, sign ups, downloads or submitted forms.


This shows the amount of money your campaigns are making by tracking the behaviour of your recipients from the email’s call to action through to the payment stage on your website.

Return on Investment (ROI):

This measures the profitability of a campaign, which is calculated by Revenue – Cost of Email.

Recipient Lifecycle Engagement:

This tracks the engagement levels of each recipient based on a set of emails or a set time period. Engagement metrics include opens, clicks, conversions, social shares, and so on.

What’s key here is the level at which your recipients are engaging over time. Have you noticed that your audience tend to lose interest in your emails after six months, or during a specific lifecycle programme?

Setting Targets for Your KPIs

How do you know what the targets should be? Don’t just pluck these figures out of thin air, aim to:

  • Check your industry benchmarks
  • Report on metrics from the previous year
  • Do some research and seek expert advice

It’ll probably take you a little time to figure out whether the metrics you have chosen are valuable and what your targets should be. Monitor them all closely and make any adjustments where necessary.

The important thing is that you have all the metrics available to you initially, so you can start the analysis process as soon as possible.