Surprisingly, in the mind of many marketers, emailing is mostly about having a clean list, engaging content ideas (from the subject line to CTAs), and pressing send, with the satisfaction of a job well done. Though (funny enough), the job would have been only half done. There is more to emailing than sending campaigns or setting up transactional emails. It’s also about tracking your campaigns, analyzing the results and drawing conclusions to improve your future sending. “But how?“, we hear you ask.

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Worry not, dear reader! Email statistics are here for you. In this post we’ll walk you through, the stats you should keep an eye on, what the results can say about your emailing practices, and how to improve said stats.

So… which email stats should I track?

Obviously, all the 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.

A few definitions to start

Here, we’ll roughly differentiate between positive and negative stats. It’s not an official classification, but it will help you to see what is good to improve and what you might need to fix.

Positive stats

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  • Sent and Delivered

Let’s start with the most obvious stats: the Sent and Delivered rate. As their names say, the Sent rate is the proportion of emails which have actually left the sender server to reach your recipients. Delivered rate is the proportion of Sent emails which have landed in the recipient’s server. Usually, if you’re respecting the best practices of emailing, these stats are somewhere between 95% and 100%.

  • Opened

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.

  • Clicked

The Click rate is the percentage of opened emails that have been clicked on at least one time. Thanks to it, you’ll know if your content is interesting enough to drive readers to your website.

Negative stats

Negative stats are the ones which can hurt your sender reputation (badly, if they’re too high). 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.

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  • Unsubscribed

The Unsubscribe rate is linked to the open rate. It indicates the percentage of recipients who clicked on the unsubscribe link (or, in some cases, on the unsubscribe button provided by some webmail clients and ISPs) in the open email. Think of it it as a healthy way to keep your contact lists up-to-date. Note that if you’re using Mailjet, the unsubscribed email addresses are automatically removed from your list.

  • Bounced

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. At Mailjet, we make a distinction between Soft Bounces (full inbox, Out of Office message…) and Hard Bounces (invalid domain, non-existent server…)

  • Blocked

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 or set as spam are pre-blocked by our system. This way, the sender’s reputation is less impacted.

  • Set as spam

The infamous Spam category is calculated on the amount of delivered emails. Under “spam”, you’ll find all the recipients who clicked on the “Report Spam” button of their webmail clients or ISPs. You want to avoid this category more than any other.

OK, I now get the basics. What do these stats mean?

These stats don’t exist for the sake of our love for numbers. 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…

I don’t have any significant negative stats, but my open rate is low.

Before actually 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 self-explanatory as you think. Or your subject line could be pimped a little with emojis – the approach our friends at Product Hunt like to take. Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered with this post about the elements you can (and should) test.

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You’ll never guess which event this cool Product Hunt email celebrated

I have a good open rate, but my click rate is not taking off.

Congratulations! 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 a content issue. Meaning: 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 or the length of your content. Make your CTA more clickable, with clear buttons and/or images instead of simple hyperlinks in your wording. See the practical aspect of it: if your emails are opened and read on a mobile device, it will be easier for your readers to click on a button using their thumbs rather than having to zoom in to enlarge the text.

The negative stats are going crazy. What the hell?

There is no big secret here: the contact list you’re using is of poor quality. Multiple options here:

  • 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 (THIS IS BAD PRACTICE) and are currently experiencing the consequences;
  • Since you started sending emails on a regular basis, you haven’t really 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.

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Now that you know the golden rule, here are a few other things you can do. If it’s the first campaign you’re sending since… forever? or at least for quite along time, send smaller campaigns before you send to all your contacts, ask them if they want to stay on your list or not. This way, you’ll limit the risks of mass unsubscribe and spam rates.

Also, don’t forget to remove bounced, set as spam and blocked emails from your contact list. It’s like cleaning your teeth each night: it takes just 3 minutes of your time, it’s kind of bothering, it looks useless and the toothpaste taste bad (actually, we don’t know how toothpaste ended up in this analogy, so forget about it). Though, in the long run, the result is worth it: you still have all your teeth and you’ve preserved your sender reputation. Everybody (but your dentist), wins!

That’s it. 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. So go, champions! The field is yours. 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.