Tori Liu - Jan 31, 2017

Output vs. Outcome: Metrics for Email Marketers

Email marketing is a primary way that associations engage with members. With the cost of email marketing systems and staff time, the investment in email marketing can be significant. So how do you measure the success of emails to ensure a return on investment?

There are two types of email metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) - those focused on Output and those focused on Outcomes. What's the difference? Output is the "how" -- how you do something or, in this case, deliver an email. Harvard Business Review defines outcomes as "the difference made by the outputs" or "the benefit your customers receive."

Output Email Metrics

Output Email Metrics focus on operational performance, which is generally measured by bounce rate and type of bounce. This is more about the quality of the list and a good barometer for data hygiene.

  • Bounce Rate = (Number of Bounces/Total Recipients of Email Campaign) * 100
  • Type of Bounce (e.g., Hard Bounce, Soft Bounce, etc.)
  • Spam Complaint Rate = (Number of Spam Complaints/Total Recipients of Email Campaign) * 100
  • Unsubscribe Rate =  (Number of unsubscribes/total recipients) * 100
  • Churn Rate = Percent change in list size after the unsubscribes, complaints, and hard bounces are taken into account

These are important metrics to track as they can help identify data quality and deliverability issues.

Outcome Email Metrics

Outcome Email Metrics focus more on engagement and the effectiveness of your email campaign at convincing readers to take action.

  • Conversion Rate = (Number of people who completed the desired action/Total Recipients) * 100. Conversion rate is the best metric for measuring outcomes of email campaigns. Here's a tutorial on setting up Google Analytics to measure conversion rates from Smart Insights.
  • Open Rate = Emails Opened/(Emails Sent-Number of Bounces) * 100
  • Clickthrough Rate = (Total clicks OR unique clicks/Total Recipeints) * 100
  • Email Sharing/Forwarding Rate

There are many email metrics that you can use, but, ultimately, metrics should be based on your strategy and unique goals.

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Written by Tori Liu