Interpreting your email marketing results

Ever wanted to know more about the results your email marketing efforts have produced? Or been questioned about the effectiveness of you efforts but a little unsure of how to justify yourself? We’ve put together some handy points to help you decipher the jargon and blow your colleagues away.

Here we’ll look at the various metrics which determine the success of your email marketing campaigns, including how they’re calculated and how you can improve them.

Open Rates

Open rates are often considered the most important stat by big bosses, they want to know the number of people that are opening your emails and therefore reading them. That’s where we need to stop you…

Email open rates are very much a red herring in the reporting world. We highly recommend not depending on these as they are unreliable and wholly inaccurate. This stat is sold as ‘the number of people within your campaign audience that open your email’. However, an email is considered ‘opened’ when the images within are downloaded, and we don’t always download the images within an email when we read it. On the flip side iPhones automatically download the images within all emails as soon as they arrive, thus, even if you delete the email without reading it, it’s considered an open.

Open rates are better used as a rough guide for general trends, or to compare week on week (for a newsletter for example). Typical open rates vary on industry, but for Technology, Insurance and Marketing you’d expect in the region of a 20% open rate.

There are plenty of ways to increase your open rates, the most successful being trying alternative subject lines. Experiment with the length, amount of information given, personalisation or even emoji’s.

Click-Through Rates (CTR)

A highly important statistic for measuring engagement with your email. If people have clicked your call to action, it is a clear sign that they are engaging with your content and interested in what you have to offer.

The CTR is a percentage of the number of subscribers which clicked at least one link within your email. These are a fairly accurate measure to report on and it’s important to always consider the unique number of clicks as some may click multiple times.

The average CTR is fairly low, so don’t be shocked (or intimidated) when you start reporting. Less than 3% is fairly normal, with some industries averaging even lower (non-profits at 2% for example).

Try one of the below to increase your CTR:

  • Keep the content relevant and on-point, don’t present an overwhelming wealth of text and links. Make it clear where you want your subscribers to click and put the most important links at the top of the email.
  • Put an enticing call-to-action at the top of the email, hook your readers and encourage them to engage with you.


When analysing your email marketing results you’ll find the number of bounces occurred and the percentage of the audience which couldn’t be delivered to. Tracking your bounces indicates how good your audience data is.

A bounce is when your message is unable to be delivered, this could be for many reasons, including; full mailboxes, the email address being invalid and the mail server failing to send the message on. Bounces are categorised as either soft or hard.

Soft bounce – occurs for temporary reasons, for example; the file is too large or inbox being full.

Hard bounce – when the email can’t be delivered for permanent reasons, for example; an invalid email address or the recipients server not accepting emails.

There isn’t really a typical bounce rate as it varies from audience to audience, but we recommend to try and keep your bounce rate below 2%. Having said that it isn’t unusual to experience a 20% bounce rate when sending to a data list for the very first time.

The easiest way of reducing your number of bounces is by keeping your data clean and accurate. This is done by ensuring those that unsubscribe are removed and by removing invalid email addresses.


Again this is a stat you want to try to keep as low as possible, in your campaign results you can monitor how many unsubscribes you have received. This a good statistic to monitor because any spikes in your unsubscribe could indicate change is needed within your email campaigns.

Generally, you want to be aiming for an unsubscribe rate of less than 2%, this may be slightly higher if you’re sending to a list for the first time, though.

By targeting your audiences correctly (i.e. sending content your which will interest your audience) and avoiding over communication you’ll keep your unsubscribe rates low. However, if you ever have a spike, go back and revaluate what might have gone wrong, did you do anything different to usual?

Find out more about creating a successful email marketing campaign.

Share this story and choose your platform

Want to know more about our software?

SpotlerUK is more than just software. You get unrivalled support and service and we help you implement a playbook for marketing automation and lead generation success. Schedule a demo without obligation and we'll happily discuss and show you how you can utilise marketing automation for your organisation.

Read our privacy and cookie policy to see how we will process the data you provide.