Have you ever been in a situation where you feel like making a certain decision is obviously beneficial? Yet, oftentimes you can’t explain why this decision is the best you can make. As a marketer, you must trust your gut, but not as often as you think.

Making data-driven marketing decisions makes some people tremble in fear. But about 80% of tasks you do as a marketing manager should rely on data. And it’s not as scary as you might think. Looking at the open rates and deciding what email newsletter performs better is also a part of data-driven decision-making. Not that scary, is it?

Establish your marketing goals and consider how you can use and collect data to reach these goals. It will help you understand your audience and learn how to solve future problems almost intuitively. You can use data to:

  • Personalize your emails
  • Segment your lists
  • Develop the right CTA
  • Improve your future campaigns


Improving email campaigns is a general idea that implies working on things like:

  1. Open rate
  2. Click-through rate
  3. Conversion rate
  4. Bounce rate
  5. Unsubscribe rate
  6. Spam complaints
  7. Social shares

It seems like a complex task, as each given metric requires working on different aspects of email campaigns. However, according to Gavin Laugenie here, email is one of the highest ROI channels. In 2019, this number had grown from £32 (roughly $40) to £42 ($53) per pound spent. And it keeps growing.

Without further ado, let’s learn exactly how to work on each email marketing metric to make smart data-driven decisions.

#1. Open rate

The number of times your emails were opened is the first metric you should pay attention to. Nothing you do will matter if nobody even gets to see your email. But you probably already know that.

When it comes to data-driven marketing, an open rate can help you understand what features customers need the most. For instance, by creating two email campaigns with subject lines, “Meet our LinkedIn analytics tool” and “Meet our Facebook analytics tool,” you can validate what tool is worth further developing. Just check the open rates.

All email automation tools allow checking the open rates. You should always gather this data and save it in a dedicated spreadsheet. When you need to make an email marketing decision in the future, refer to this sheet.

Source: newoldstamp.com

#2. Click-through rate

Email CTR is an even more important metric comparing to an open rate. While the latter is mostly about the message you include in a subject line, the number of generated clicks is the first step towards getting ROI from email marketing.

There are a few things that directly affect CTR.


Of course, you can try and force people to buy the biggest package right in the welcome email. But how many of your new subscribers will actually consider it?

So, before sending an email campaign, make sure the recipients belong to the right sales funnel stage.

Email content

The quality of text and visual content is another pillar of huge CTR. If you want a person to proceed to your website, they must read some text in your email and get interested in what you’re saying.

This implies adding useful visual content, as well as leaving some space for thought. For example, adding only the blog post introduction to the email and leaving a ‘Learn More’ button below.

But regardless of your content quality, you should help recipients proceed. They may not feel like they need to unless you tell it with a call-to-action (CTA).

Now, it’s easy to add a CTA button to a newsletter. But what about regular emails your colleagues send every day? If it’s just a support inquiry, nobody will be happy to see a promotional link. Unless it’s in an email signature.

People know that you won’t change an email signature every time you send an email. So, if your customer support employee simply answers a client’s question via email, it’s OK for their email signature to be something like this:

Source: newoldstamp.com

The recipient will not get distracted by its content, but there is a chance they’ll notice it, and it will get them interested.

According to the Newoldstamp report, the main objectives of those who use email signatures for marketing are brand awareness (82%), driving traffic to the website (48%), and lead generation (34%). All these goals can be measured and improved by analyzing impressions and click-through rates of your email signature marketing campaigns.

You can validate how interested people are in your proposal simply by updating your email signature banner or A/B testing it. It’s a cheap and easy way to gather data.

#3. Bounce rate

If an email has bounced, it means the recipient’s email service provider didn’t allow for your message to get to the inbox.

You should always use contact lists with valid email addresses. Moreover, you should have permission to send emails to all recipients. This means getting email addresses from some web resources or buying them is a no-go.

As for data-driven marketing, the bounce rate helps you indicate the quality of your contact lists and understand whether you should keep going with some cold email growth marketing techniques.

#4. Unsubscribe rate

The number of unsubscribes helps you understand if the emails you send are targeted at the right people. There will always be a percentage of those who unsubscribe. The benchmark is about 0.2%. But if you have a higher rate, perhaps recipients don’t need whatever it is you send them.

Usually, a high unsubscribe rate indicates that you should reconsider your whole email campaign.

#5. Conversion rate

You should always set a goal for your email campaigns. Gathering website traffic is all right, but you might want something more. Whatever it is, make it easy for recipients to convert by adding clear messages and CTAs.

Conversion may indicate a sign-up, a purchase, a package upgrade, etc. It’s important to identify this event exactly and build your email template with the desired result in mind.

#6. Spam complaints

Obviously, spam complaints are a bad thing in any type of email. What you can learn from them, however, is looking at an email from the recipient’s perspective before sending it. You may be eager to promote your cool new features, but most people will see it just like spam.

Try to make a promotion look native and, to some extent, logical. The spam complaints rate will help you understand how well you did it.

#7. Shares in social media

Probably the best feedback you can get is people resharing your content. By all means, make it easy for recipients to share your email on social media.

Source: Zoom

Summing up

Data-driven marketing is just the way any marketing should be. Using actual metrics and stats increases the probability of your decision being successful.

Email marketing is one of the most data-rich channels that lets you track almost everything. Use the given metrics to decide what feature to develop, what product to support more, or what to write blog posts about.

Consider using email marketing tools that make data gathering a lot easier. They can help track any action recipients make regarding your email. That’s where data-driven marketing begins.