Three Missing Metrics For Email Marketing

A long-time colleague posted a question to an email marketing list a few weeks ago: “Which email metrics do you wish existed in email marketing benchmark reports that don’t exist today?” The question got me thinking about the state of email measurement and the kinds of metrics that should be available but aren’t yet in common use.  

Here is my short list:

Address quality metrics: Reviewing the email performance of large ecommerce companies, I've found the quality of a company's list is what drives its email marketing performance. If the addresses that comprise the marketer’s list are mostly addresses that don’t get used a lot, no amount of stellar creative or inventive program strategy can lead to best-in-class performance.

Marketers should keep an eye on the overall quality of their list and the quality of newly acquired addresses by source. In particular, I would suggest two primary metrics that are available from an analysis of “email panel” sources or other third-party sources:

  • Percent of addresses that are “primary” addresses (over time and versus benchmarks)
  • Percent of addresses that are heavy buyers in my product/service category (over time and versus benchmarks )



Lifecycle metrics: A healthy email marketing program will do a good job of keeping engagement high over the subscriber’s lifecycle.  I see a large number of our clients looking at some measure of engagement over time, but these measurements are typically not available for benchmarks. I’d like to see:

  • Open, click, and conversion metrics by weeks/months on lists vs. benchmarks. I’ve reviewed open data in this way for thousands of domains. Performance across domains varies dramatically.
  • First-, second-, and third-time buyers as percent of purchases vs. benchmarks.

Marketing results by mailbox type: Given that a lot of your marketing results are based on the quality of your list, it would be useful to see how you are doing in driving opens, clicks and conversions relative to benchmarks for each quality category of mailbox type. You may have a poor quality list. but your marketing could be driving higher-than-average results from active addresses.

That’s my short list.  What's yours?

2 comments about "Three Missing Metrics For Email Marketing".
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  1. Neil Mahoney from Mahoney/Marketing, March 23, 2016 at 3:45 p.m.

    I was a Publisher of B2B magazines for about a dozen years and I fully agree that the quality of a mailing list -- circulation to use a print-pub term -- is of utmost importance.  Most mailing lists pale by the quality of the B2B magazines of yore.

    Another big problem is variety of content, which is/was a major strength of print pubs.  One company has one line of products to plug and it's repeitive & boring to the prospects.  Neil Mahoney

  2. Julia Gulevich from G-Lock Software, March 24, 2016 at 11:22 a.m.

    Great article, George! Thank you for sharing. I would add one more email marketing metric to your list which Inbox placement rate. I think it's as important as opens, clicks and conversions. In some situations, marketers can observe a low open/click/conversion rate and may stay in the dark about why their emails do not perform well while all of them or the majority of the emails are delivered.

    Here is the Inbox placement comes into play. Delivered does not always mean sent to the Inbox. While the email service provider reports the 100% delivery rate, a portion (say 25%) of the emails may be sent to the spam or junk folder or to the Gmail's Promotions tab where the recipient doesn't expect it. Thus, the email is not seen, read or clicked.

    So, on my opinion, the Inbox placement and spam placement rate should be available to email marketers in addition to common email metrics.


    Me too, I wrote a blog post where I cover email metrics tracked and evaluated by mailbox providers with the purpose to apply filtering algorithms to each particular email. Plus, I included a live deliverability test directly into the blog post so that anyone can test their email deliverability in real time.


    I think it might be a great addition and might be interesting to the readers of this post. I hope it is fine to share a link here


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