Understanding your email campaign results

They say that you can’t manage what you don’t measure. So once your email is perfectly designed, and sent to the right audience, how do you judge its success? We’ve plucked out the most common metrics and taken a look at what they actually mean.

Open Rate

Open rate is the most common starting point for analysing how well an email performed. After all, no-one can appreciate the content if they don’t open the email, right?

Sadly, Open Rate actually tells you very little. The best case for a high Open Rate is that your subject line was either intriguing or informative enough to make your reader take a look. At worst, some people (including yours truly) dislike having unread email notifications. We will open an email even if we intend to not do anything with it.

A further issue with Open Rate as a metric is the rise of email on mobile. Mobile actually overtook desktop as the dominant platform for opening emails in July 2017. Mobile email clients download images automatically. This can throw off your metric quite severely. This is because Open Rate is tracked using a one-pixel image in the background of the email. If that image is downloaded, your system will assume the email was opened, when it may not have been.


Counting the number of clicks the links in your email received is definitely a step up from Open Rate as a useful measure. A click means that your email copy has generated enough interest for the reader to take action. Just what you want, surely?

Not so fast! Measuring total clicks by themselves has one major issue. “Unsubscribe” (which you are legally required to have on all emails) and “view this email in browser” will also be included in this metric. It’s hard to argue that clicking on either of these represents engagement with your content.

We also need to talk about bots. These little fellas “read” every email, checking the links and code to determine whether each message is spam or legitimate. If you’re a CommuniGator customer, we have a few tricks up our sleeve to catch bots and remove their activity from your results. If you aren’t, one key indicator is a high number of clicks in the moments after your email has been sent. If these clicks are quicker than you would expect from a human, bots are probably to blame!


Click-To-Open, or CTO, is a compound of Open Rate and Clicks. In simple terms, it asks “what proportion of the people who opened this email, clicked on a link inside it?” This offers more nuance than just the number of clicks. It weeds out any enthusiastic readers who may click your links several times.

Some marketers are nervous about reporting on CTO, as it is a lower number than Opens or Clicks. Non-marketers are unlikely to appreciate the context of the numbers you are showing them. The only way to deal with these doubters is to point to industry average success rates.

Website Activity

Clicks and CTO can only tell you the immediate reaction to your email. For the full picture, you need to know what those clickers do next. In a truly successful email campaign, the reader will spend some time on the page you initially sent them to. This will be followed by more of your content on the same topic.

GatorLeads allows you to see who is visiting your website, and what pages they visit. Only real humans are tracked, not bots. You will be able to track individuals, and build up a complete picture of what they are interested in. The points scored from website activity are our primary way of deciding when a lead is hot enough for a call from the Sales team. Thanks to IP tracking, our Sales team will know exactly what to talk about in order to have a great call.

This is why bringing your website visitor tracking and your email marketing platforms together under one roof will make it much easier to judge the success of your campaigns. For added punch, integrate them both with your CRM and watch your salespeople smash their targets.


Have you ever heard of Abraham Wald? During World War 2, he was part of a team tasked with improving the armour on US Air Force planes. His breakthrough was to realise that they were only assessing damage to planes that had safely returned, not those that had been shot down.

Similarly, emails which have bounced, instead of reaching the inbox can still offer valuable insight. Bounces are categorised into 2 types, soft and hard. Soft bounces come when the message is too large for the recipient’s inbox, the inbox is full, or their email server is temporarily down. Message size is only likely to be a problem for particularly image-heavy emails, so send tests to yourself to keep an eye out for it. The other two cases are outside your control, and therefore not worth worrying about.

Hard bounces need your attention. They appear when the recipient address is invalid, or if a spam filter doesn’t trust your email. For invalid addresses, a simple data cleanse is enough. This will also improve your other results, as only valid recipients can open and click your emails. The ratio of sends to opens and clicks will be better as a result.

If spam filters aren’t letting your emails through, this is a major problem! Not only does your design need rethinking, but too many hard bounces will damage the reputation of your sending domain. If this happened too much, even spam filters which had previously accepted your email will no longer do so.

Bringing it all together

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the greatest value lies in combining your metrics together to build a complete picture. A high Open Rate but a low number of clicks means that your subject line is good, but your content needs work. Plenty of clicks followed by a short time spent on your website shows that your content isn’t matching the expectations you set with your email copy. If your email has a high CTR, and the web activity that followed is sustained, then you’ve hit the jackpot!

AI in GatorMail can use past results to predict your CTR before you send the email out. This lets you spot potential problems and correct them, before any bounces at all. Along with the rest of our Campaign Checklist, you can rest easy after you hit send, knowing you’re all set to deliver the results that you want.


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.