How to Use Email Analytics to Improve Your Campaigns: The Ultimate Guide

Illustration by Camille Portales illustration of a map

One of the most common mistakes business owners make is continually producing content with no regard for their analytics. This is a huge mistake because studying your data, especially your email analytics, can help you create more effective marketing campaigns and even improve your products/services.

In this guide to email analytics, I will explore:

By the time you’re finished this article, you’ll know how to use email analytics to improve your marketing efforts.

What are email analytics?

Analytics is a systematic way of tracking data over time. In the marketing world, this data typically relates to customer behavior. Business owners with an online presence have three main types of analytics they can work with:

  • Social media analytics – Often provided by the platforms themselves, these analytics tools track how people interact with your social media accounts. These statistics include data such as views, shares, and comments both on individual posts and your overall profiles.
  • Website analytics – These analytics show you how many people visit your website, how long they stay on your site, and how many pages they look at before they leave your site. WordPress users typically use plugins like Jetpack or MonsterInsights for these analytics, or Google Analytics.
  • Email analytics – These analytics are tracked by your email marketing service. They tend to look at things like how many people open your emails. Some services also offer advanced analytics tools like heat maps, which track the parts of your newsletter that get the most interaction.

When it comes to email analytics, there are five key statistics you can use to shape future marketing campaigns: subscribe rate, unsubscribe rate, open rate, click rate, and bounce rates.

Subscribe rate

This is the number of people who subscribe to your newsletter over a certain period of time. Some tools also let you view where these subscribers come from.

Where to view this information: There are two ways to figure this out in MailPoet. First, you can head to the “Lists” area. Next to each of your lists, you’ll see subscribe and unsubscribe numbers:

How to use email analytics: MailPoet Lists area
MailPoet Lists area

You can turn these numbers into percentages using a free online numbers-to-percentages converter.

To see how well your signup forms are performing, go to the “Forms” area of MailPoet. Beside each form listing, you can see the number of people who have subscribed using that form. You can get even more detailed information by using a lead generation tool like OptinMonster, which lets you track detailed statistics for individual signup forms.

What your subscribe rate tells you: How effectively your website and other promotions are channeling people to your newsletter.

Unsubscribe rate

Conversely, your unsubscribe rate is the number of people who unsubscribe from your newsletter over a certain period of time.

Where to view this information: There are two ways to see your unsubscribe numbers. To view overall unsubscribe rates, head to the “Lists” area of MailPoet. Here, you’ll see the number of people who have unsubscribed from each list. You can turn this into a percentage with a numbers-to-percentages calculator.

How to use email analytics: viewing subscribe/unsubscribe rates in MailPoet
Lists area of MailPoet

To view how many people unsubscribed after receiving a specific campaign, go to the “Emails” area of MailPoet and click on the numbers listed under “Opened, Clicked”. This will open a page where you can view more detailed analytics, including the number of unsubscribes.

How to use email analytics: MailPoet Campaign Analytics page
MailPoet Campaign Analytics page

What your unsubscribe rate tells you: Some turnover is normal, but a high unsubscribe rate means your content isn’t lining up with what your audience wants. A sharp drop in subscribers after a specific email also indicates that your audience disliked that content.

Open rate

This is the percentage of your subscribers who actually open your emails.

Where to view this information: In MailPoet, you’ll be able to see the open rate for an email campaign listed beside the campaign’s title in the “Emails” area. You can click on the number listed for more information.

How to use email analytics: MailPoet Emails area, with an arrow highlighting the area for Open and Click rates
MailPoet Emails area

What your open rate tells you: A high open rate (over 20%) tells you that your content is resonating with your audience. If your open rate is highly variable, this tells you that only some of your campaigns are effective.

We explore open rates in more detail in our recent post on email open rate benchmarks.

Click rate

This is the number of people who click on the links in your campaigns. If a campaign has multiple links, you should be able to view the click rate for each individual link.

Where to view this information: In MailPoet, this information is listed in the “Emails” area, beside the open rate. Click on the number listed to view more information, including a heat map.

What your click rate tells you: Your click rate tells you whether or not the calls to action in a specific campaign are working.

Bounce rate

This is the percentage of emails that fail to make it to their intended recipients. There are hard bounces and soft bounces.

A hard bounce is received when your email can’t be delivered because the email address is inactive. This can also happen if an email address is misspelled.

A soft bounce happens when the subscriber’s mailbox is full or temporarily unavailable due to server issues. Soft bounces can also happen if your email is too large.

Where to view this information: In MailPoet, you can view hard bounces by going to “Subscribers” and looking at the “Bounced” category. This category tracks hard bounces and addresses that have bounced over 10 times in one week.

How to use email analytics: Subscribers area of MailPoet, with "Bounced" selected from the menu
Subscribers area of MailPoet

What your bounce rate tells you: A high bounce rate typically means you need to clean your list.

How to use your email analytics

Spending all of your time staring at the numbers won’t get you anywhere, but neither will ignoring them. To make the most of your data, I recommend a five step process:

1. Schedule time to check your numbers

Make an appointment with yourself at the end of each month to look at your email analytics. Track the most important numbers—the statistics we discussed in the last section of this guide—in a spreadsheet. List both numbers for individual emails and the overall numbers.

You may also want to schedule a separate analytics check-in after a major lead generation campaign or a product release.

I also recommend scheduling longer analytics check-ins at the end of each quarter and each calendar year. This gives you time to look at data from the previous months and look for long-term patterns.

Pro tip: Use this monthly appointment to track website and social media analytics too. This can help you build a solid understanding of how your overall online platform is performing.

2. Reflect on your numbers

As you look at your numbers, ask a few questions:

  • What types of content usually get the most opens?
  • What types of content usually get the most clicks?
  • Have any email campaigns since your last check-in caused an unusually large number of people to unsubscribe?
  • Have you gained subscribers at a consistent pace since your last check-in?
  • What signup forms have performed best since your last check-in?

For now, just focus on recording the information. I’ll share what to do with it in the next two steps.

3. Refine your customer profiles

Customer profiles are tools to help you understand your audience. To do this, you create a fictional person who represents a specific segment of your existing or potential audience. Every business should have a minimum of three profiles to work with:

  • Your best customer. This profile represents the people your business predominantly serves right now. In terms of email, these people almost always open your emails and click on most of the links inside them. They rely on your brand and are eager to work with you or buy your products.
  • Your newest customer. This profile represents the majority of people currently being brought into your audience. They’ve joined your list, maybe bought their first product, and are actively interested in your brand. You hope to add them to the ranks of your best customers.
  • Your ideal customer. This profile represents the people you most want to turn into customers. You’re still trying to get them onto your subscriber list.

If your product or service appeals to several different groups of people, you may also want to create multiple profiles in each category. For example, if you sell high quality cookware, you might want to create one “best customer” profile for young adults moving into their first home and another profile for stay at home moms.

As for what these profiles contain, there are four main categories of information you want to include:

  • A name. It might seem silly, but a name helps you conceptualize this as a real person that you’re creating content and products for.
  • Demographic information. These are things like location, gender, age, industry, and pay range.
  • Goals. This is a broad concept of what this person wants out of life.
  • Problems they need to solve. Specifically, you want to focus on the problems that your business can help them solve.
  • Why they’re interested in your products/services. List the problems each of your products/services can help this person with. You may also want to include why they find your business more interesting than your competition.

Over time, you can use the data in your email analytics to add new categories to these profiles. For example, you might want to add categories for products/services most often reviewed by your best customers.

In some instances, you’ll want to create entirely new customer profiles. For example, if you run a major lead generation campaign and get several hundred new subscribers in a specific part of the world, you might want to create a profile to represent them.

4. Improve your lead generation

MailPoet signup form editor
MailPoet signup form editor

Lead generation campaigns are marketing campaigns designed to funnel people from your website and/or social media platforms to your email list. These campaigns can be simple, like putting a form in the sidebar of your website, or complex, like a multi-network social media campaign.

Here are a few ways you can optimize your online presence for lead generation:

  • Use multiple types of signup forms. Specifically, consider adding a pop up or slide-in form that appears when your audience performs a certain action, like finishing an article on your site. MailPoet makes it easy to create several types of signup forms, with templates optimized for every format.
  • Create or refine your opt-in bonus. An opt-in bonus is a reward people get for joining your list. This can be a discount, an information product, a free consultation, or anything else related to your business. The key is to make sure that it helps your audience while also reinforcing your newsletter’s overall value.
  • Create or refine a landing page. A landing page is basically a sales page for your newsletter. You can create one easily with Elementor. If you already have one and it isn’t pulling in the numbers you want, your landing page might not be properly explaining the benefits of your newsletter. If the page looks great, you might not be sharing it in enough places, which brings us nicely to the next point:
  • Automate newsletter promotions. Create automated posts advertising your landing page on social media. Include a link to your landing page in your social media profiles and contributor bios. Write a standardized “join my email list” message you can post at the end of articles or pages. Add a “sign up” option to the checkout process if you sell ecommerce products. Make marketing your newsletter as effortless as possible.
  • Ask for referrals. Consider adding a message saying “Enjoyed this newsletter? Recommend it to a friend” to your newsletters. You can use the free Share Link Generator to create links that will share your landing page (or an online version of your newsletter) on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and email.

Use a mix of these strategies to increase your subscription rate.

5. Refine your content

Once you’ve got a handle on the numbers and you’ve updated your customer profiles, you can use this to shape your content. There are a couple of layers to this: optimizing your overall marketing strategy and refining individual email campaigns.

Optimizing your overall marketing strategy

To do this, go back to the notes you made during the reflection step. Specifically, pay attention to the highest and lowest-performing content types. You might even want to pull up individual emails to get a better feel for the design, copy, and offers contained within those emails.

Armed with this information, ask yourself a few questions:

  • What makes certain content types more popular? Is the content itself more useful than other types of emails you send? Does the email template you use for specific content look better on mobile devices? Are you using more effective subject lines on certain emails?
  • Can you apply these lessons to other content types? For example, if shorter emails are more successful with your list, can you find ways to shorten all of your emails? Can you re-use design elements from one type of email in other emails? Is there an effective format for subject lines that can be applied to multiple email types?
  • Can you change your content plan to focus more on popular content types? For example, if you run an educational newsletter and “Quick Tips” perform better than longer lessons, can you switch to only publishing quick tips, with links to longer content on your site?
  • Can you introduce new content types? Are there ways you can expand your content to better serve your audience? Can you build on some of your popular content to create something new?

As you consider these questions, take a look at your email marketing schedule for the next three months. Look for specific emails that can be modified or replaced to improve your engagement rates over the coming month. Note how you will modify each one/what you’ll replace it with.

Modifying specific emails

Next, it’s time to start optimizing individual emails. There are ways to improve every type of email content you send out, but I’m going to focus on some of the most common: automated welcome sequences, newsletters, and sales emails.

Automated welcome sequences
Example of an email from the MailPoet automated welcome sequence

An automated welcome sequence is a series of emails that subscribers receive when they sign up for your newsletter. These emails provide an opportunity to give subscribers an opt-in bonus if you have one, establish yourself as an expert, and strengthen your relationships with subscribers. You can also use your automated welcome sequence to make sales.

If you don’t have an automated welcome sequence, you should seriously consider creating one. If you do, there are a few reasons you might want to change it:

  • Too many people immediately unsubscribe after receiving your opt-in bonus. This means one of two things: your opt-in bonus isn’t satisfying your audience, or the value of the opt-in bonus far outweighs the value of staying subscribed to your updates. To eliminate this problem, refine your opt-in bonus to ensure that focuses on helping your audience and reminding them of the ongoing benefits your emails will provide.
  • One or more emails in the automated campaign has a high unsubscribe rate. If this is happening, assess the email(s) in question for usefulness of content, visual appeal (especially on mobile devices), and length. Most of all, remember that your automated welcome sequence needs to be customer-focused.
  • People aren’t taking the desired actions. This often comes from using weak calls to action. You may also run into this problem if your links don’t stand out from the text or are grouped together too closely, which makes it difficult to differentiate links on mobile phones. If this is happening, rewrite your calls to action and use visual cues, like buttons, to make them stand out from the main text.

If your analytics reveal one of these issues, check out our guide to automated welcome sequences.

Newsletters

Example of a well-designed newsletter from The Public Studio

There are several ways to refine your newsletters to improve your engagement rates:

  • Write better subject lines. Your email subject line is like a headline: it needs to be short and focused on the most important part of your newsletter. When possible, emphasize the benefit subscribers will get from reading your newsletter.
  • Use concise preview text.Think of your preview text as a subtitle. It should expand on your subject line, but it still needs to be short.
  • Divide text with headings and white space.Most people expect newsletters to be longer than promotional emails, but nobody wants to read a wall of small text. Divide the text into sections of 1-2 paragraphs with headings and choose a template with lots of white space.
  • Re-center the customer. Even when the goal of your email is to share what’s going on in your business, you need to consider your audience. What news do they actually want to know? Does this audience care about personal events, or are they only interested in product/service updates? Keep this in mind as you draft your content.
  • Include a call to action. Every email, even the simplest update, should encourage your customer to interact with your brand in some way.

If you’re not sure why your newsletter has a high unsubscribe rate, consider asking a trusted colleague or employee for feedback on your recent emails.

Sales emails

Sales email from Indigo
Example of a well-designed sales email from Indigo

If your marketing emails aren’t performing as well as you want them to, there are a few things to consider:

  • Design. Is your email mobile friendly? Does it use white space and high-quality images to please the viewer’s eyes? Have you put the call to action in a prominent, easy-to-click place?
  • Your offer. What are you promoting in this email? Does your email copy explain how this product or service will benefit your customer? Have you offered some kind of discount, and if so, is that clearly expressed?
  • Email frequency. How many emails did you send to promote this product over the course of a week? Every audience has a different definition of “too many emails”, but as a general rule, I try to avoid sending more than two marketing emails per week unless a major sale is about to end.

As always, remember to focus on how your products and services benefit your audience.

Final thoughts on how to use email analytics

Email analytics—and analytics in general—are some of the most powerful tools available to the modern business owner. They can show you what content is working and what isn’t, allowing you to focus on successful content instead of putting days, weeks, or even months of work into content that doesn’t grow your business.

Here’s a quick run down of how to use your email analytics?

  • Check your numbers regularly. Record your numbers at least once a month. You should also check your numbers after major marketing campaigns. Pay close attention to long-running patterns.
  • Reflect on your numbers. Consider what the numbers mean. Are your signup forms drawing enough attention? Do some email types perform better than others?
  • Refine your customer profiles. Update your customer profiles to reflect how different segments of your audience have interacted with your promotions.
  • Build better lead generation campaigns. Use high-quality signup forms, landing pages, and automation to increase your subscribe rate.
  • Refine your content. Update your content plan to include more of the content your audience already enjoys and optimize your welcome sequence to reduce unsubscribes. You can also improve the performance of newsletters and sales emails by making sure they follow email marketing best practices.

Most of all, remember that this is an ongoing process. As long as you’re in business, you should be paying attention to your email analytics.