In the mind of many marketers, emailing is mostly about having a contact list, coming up with engaging content ideas (from the subject line to CTAs), and pressing send, with the satisfaction of a job well done. Yet, funny enough, this is just half of the job. There is more to emailing than just sending campaigns or setting up transactional emails. It’s also about tracking your campaigns’ performance, analyzing the results and drawing conclusions to improve your future sending. “But how do I do this?“, we hear you ask.
Fear not, dear reader! Email statistics (and your marketing experts friends from Mailjet) are here for you. In this post we’ll walk you through the stats you should keep an eye on, why they are important, what the results can say about your emailing practices and overall marketing strategy, and how you can improve them.
Email statistics you should keep an eye on
Obviously, all email statistics provided by the different email service providers are relevant. They’re actually so relevant that, whatever platform you’re using to send your emails, the different email status’ available in your statistics dashboard will be labeled the same way. Yeah, email stats are that important.
The Good… And The Bad
Email statistics can roughly be classified in two categories: positive and negative. It’s not an official classification, but it can help you understand what is good, what is not so good, and what you definitely need to improve.
These are the most obvious and easy to understand stats: the Sent and Delivered rate. Their names are pretty straightforward. The Sent rate is the proportion of emails which have actually left the sender server to reach your recipients. If large numbers of messages stay as “sent” for a long period of time (usual sending time may vary between a couple of seconds to a few hours), you are probably experiencing a deliverability issue.
The Delivered rate is the proportion of sent emails which have landed in the recipient’s server. However, being “delivered” does not necessarily mean the email ended up in the recipient’s inbox. It’s impossible for anyone other than the recipient to know if the message was delivered to their inbox or the junk folder.
Usually, if you’re respecting the best practices of emailing, these stats are somewhere between 95% and 100%.
The Open rate is the percentage of delivered emails that have been opened at least once. It’s a good way to know if people want to read your messages or if they bin your emails them straight away without even opening them. You clearly want this stat to be as high as possible.
The Click rate is the percentage of opened emails that have been clicked on at least one time, excluding clicks on the unsubscribe link. This statistic is very important as it shows how subscribers interact with your content, and if it is interesting enough to drive readers to your website. High click rates are a sign of interest and can help shape your future campaigns.
Negative stats are the ones which can hurt your sender reputation. Very badly, if they’re too high. So, you’ll want them to be as low as possible. At Mailjet, we set a threshold for you to not pass, otherwise, you run the risk of having your account put in quarantine or even blocked.
The Bounce rate is calculated on the total amount of emails sent. A bounce means that the email didn’t reach its intended destination – your contact’s inbox – for different reasons, and it was returned with an error message. At Mailjet, we make a distinction between Soft Bounces and Hard Bounces.
Soft Bounces are temporary issues such as the recipient’s inbox is too full, or there is a connection timeout. In these cases, redelivery will be attempted automatically. If the email is not delivered within 5 days, it’s marked as bounced.
Hard Bounces are permanent delivery errors caused by an invalid email address (e.g. a mistyped email, a non-existent destination server, etc.). These types of bounces negatively impact your sender reputation. To avoid deliverability issues, it’s very important to regularly remove bounced email addresses from your contact lists.
The Unsubscribe rate is linked to the open rate. It indicates the percentage of recipients who clicked on the unsubscribe link – or the unsubscribe button provided by some webmail clients and ISPs – in the open email. Think of it as a healthy way to keep your contact lists up-to-date. Note that, if you’re using Mailjet, unsubscribed email addresses are automatically removed from your lists.
The Block rate is calculated on the total amount of emails sent. Blocked is a status Mailjet sets for its users. Emails which have previously hard bounced, have been marked as spam, or that have potential spammy content, are pre-blocked by our system. This way, your sender’s reputation is less impacted.
This stat is also calculated on the total number of emails delivered. Spam complaints are made when the recipient believes an email is unsolicited. Spam is typically aimed at marketing emails. Transactional emails usually don’t get marked as spam. Many ISPs provide a ‘spam’ button or link in each email delivered. When a recipient clicks on this button, the email is reported as Spam and this is displayed on your Stats page.
Spam complaints are taken very seriously and can be detrimental for your sender’s reputation. You will want keep your spam rate lower than any other email stat. Some tips in our sending policy to keep your spam rates down are:
- Only send your emails to recipients who have given explicit consent. The use of Third Party contact lists is prohibited.
- Always include a clearly visible and easy to use unsubscribe link in all your emails. You don’t want subscribers to mark your email as spam to stop receiving it.
- Your sender name and domain must be communicated in all your messages. Content should be relevant and reflect your subscribers’ expectations. Cleaning your lists regularly ensures that your emails are sent to engaged readers.
What do these stats mean for you?
These stats don’t exist for the sake of our love for numbers (not sure we even love them that much…). They mean something. And following the results, you should take different actions, depending on the KPIs you have set, obviously. Let’s go through a few common scenarios…
1. I don’t have any significant negative stats, but my open rate is low.
Before opening your emails, your recipients will check 3 things: your sender name, your subject line and your pre-header. Have you tested these different elements? The sender name you’re using might not be as clear as you think. Or perhaps your subject line could be pimped a little with emojis. Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered with this post about the elements you can (and should) test.
Why not use emojis in your subject lines to capture recipients’ attention? Just like we do.
2. I have a good open rate, but my click rate is not taking off.
Great! Your recipients open (and hopefully read) your emails. Though, for some reasons, they don’t seem to click. This could be down to either a CTA or content issue. If there are not enough things to click on in your email, your readers might not click; or if your content isn’t appealing enough to them, your readers won’t click.
So be sure to test (yep, once again) the positions of your CTAs and the length of your content. Make your CTAs more clickable, with clear buttons and/or images instead of simple hyperlinks in your wording. This is also practical: if your emails are opened and read on a mobile device, it will be easier for readers to click on a button using their thumbs rather than having to zoom in to enlarge the text.
3. My negative stats are going crazy, help!
The issue here it’s clear: the quality of the contact list you are using is bad.
This could be due to a number of things:
- You haven’t sent an email for a looooooong time, and your recipients don’t know who you are anymore;
- You recently purchased or borrowed a third-party list (HUGE NO-NO!) and are currently experiencing the consequences;
- Since you started sending emails regularly, you haven’t cleaned your contact list, resulting in a clog of bad stats.
To prevent this from happening, you have limited options. First, before sending: NEVER USE A PURCHASED LIST! Second: NEVER USE A PURCHASED LIST! And third: you get the message? It’s like Fight Club: you have to repeat the first rule to be sure it sticks.
Now that we’re sure you know and remember the golden rule, there are a few other things you can do. If it’s the first campaign you’re sending since… forever? Or at least for quite a long time, send smaller campaigns before you send to all your contacts, and ask them if they want to stay on your list or not. This way, you’ll limit the risks of your unsubscribe and spam rates skyrocketing.
Also, don’t forget to remove bounced, reported as spam and blocked emails from your contact lists. It’s like cleaning your teeth each night: it takes just 3 minutes of your time, it’s kind of annoying and looks useless. Yet, in the long run, the results are worth it: you still have all your – possibly white – teeth and you’ve preserved your sender reputation. Everybody (but your dentist), wins!
And here you are. We’ve walked through the main stats you should follow when looking to improve your email campaigns. As you’ve seen, it’s not rocket science, but simply testing, improving, and testing again. Oh and, of course, following best practice (You haven’t forgotten the golden rule yet, have you?). So go, make your positive stats increase and reduce the negative ones to a pulp!
You liked the post, or have something to add to it? Let us know on Twitter! We’d love to hear about your stats, let us know.
This blog post is an updated version of the post “What Do Your Stats Tell You? Emailing Doesn’t Stop When You Press Send!“, published on the Mailjet blog on March 23rd, 2017 by Thomas Hajdukowicz.