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Email Metrics: Learning What Matters & How to Improve

As a small business or nonprofit, you’re probably using email to reach your audiences. It’s a simple tool that allows you to get your message straight into the inboxes of the people who want to hear from you.

With that said, email marketing is not a magic wand to drive sales, increase membership, or raise dollars instantly. Email marketing is a long game and it is about building brand trust and engaging with your audience on a consistent basis.

Like anything in your business or nonprofit, you want to see growth in your email metrics when evaluating how a campaign is performing and how your audiences are engaging. Let’s explore the three important metrics to keep an eye on:

1. Open rate

2. Click-through rate

3. Deliverability rate

Open rate is the percentage of audience members who open your email. This metric is driven by subject lines and strong brand awareness. Does your audience open your email as soon as it hits their inboxes? Your average open rate should be somewhere between 15-25%. There are many ways to improve the open rate of your email, — think testing different subject lines or sending times. It’s important to note that readers can view an email’s content without technically opening the email (hello email previews!) so we don’t put as much weight into open rate as we do the next metric.

Click-through rate (CTR) is the percentage of people who clicked on at least one link in your email message. Essentially, CTR measures your audience engagement, so it should be the first metric you look to determine if people were even viewing your email. Bad email sends happen even with the best strategy and CTR is your best guess for the poor performance. It seems low, but we want to see an average CTR of 3% with our small business and nonprofit clients. Improve CTR by Ensure that your email content is helpful and relevant to your audience.

Deliverability rate is the success rate of getting an email delivered to your audience. A low rate will tell you if there is a problem with your emails going through. Think of this as your check engine light. If your delivery rate is 97% or less, it’s time to audit how you collect your email addresses and if they are being caught in spam filters.

Email campaigns are a great tool to be able to reach your audiences. The key to their success is measuring all of your emails by these three metrics to help you determine if you just had an off day with your email send, or if you have a bigger problem with your email engagement.


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We've all been there. You're a nonprofit exec and know something has to change with your marketing. It's stale, it's tired and what's that new thing everyone is doing now on Instagram.
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