The use of email marketing is widespread in business and it’s not surprising given how cost-effective a form of communication it is. However, you might be surprised to learn that only around 8% of consumers in the UK are reading every marketing email that they receive and around 43% read only half of the email communications that are delivered to their inboxes. In this context, the email marketing campaign starts to look like rather a lost cause. In fact, it’s not – an email marketing campaign can be enormously effective when monitored and properly managed and part of this is learning how to start measuring the effectiveness of your email marketing campaign.

Set up an estimation

The first step in starting to measure this is to define what counts as a conversion for your business. If you’re in retail then no doubt this will be related to purchases, but this could also be measured as downloads or callback requests if you’re in a different field, such as B2B. If your email marketing campaign is focused on improving engagement then this can be more difficult to measure. A simple and effective way to do this might be to combine something like the number of social shares with opens and clicks. There are numerous analytics options that you can use to see what’s going on and get an idea of how successful email marketing has been.

Use a spreadsheet to define your best and worst case figures, using factors such as deliverability, open rate, click through rate, completed responses (such as leads) and/or completed conversations (such as sales or whatever you decided your conversion point would be).

Other goals?

There may be other measurements related to activity and engagement that you want to evaluate as part of the email marketing monitoring, for example the conversion from a first-time buyer to a repeat buyer or bringing a former buyer back to activity. The goals that you need to set will be dependent on the nature of the business, and sitting down to map out the buying cycle or the wider customer lifecycle can be very useful in terms of identifying the points at which you need to see where email marketing is either making a difference or is not. Once you have identified the various stages in the cycle you can then begin to look at the kind of email content that might work to move a customer on from one point to the next. This kind of knowledge makes it much easier to produce focused content that will have a genuine impact, rather than throwing content at an email recipient and hoping some of it sticks.

Creating value

Another element of measuring the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns is looking at how much value they are actually creating. What are the markers within your own business that will demonstrate that an email marketing campaign is working? This might be something like pushing up the purchase frequency, or increasing the average value of an order. You might measure it on the basis of looking to increase the revenue that is being generated either per email or per a certain number of emails. Or it could be something like extending the life of a list member.

Competitor lessons

When you’re looking to improve your own marketing it’s often worth taking notice of what your competitors are doing, most of all to use their success as a yardstick for your own (rather than imitating their efforts). For example, look at those in your sector who were early adopters of email/digital marketing and who have gone on to innovate and drive forward ideas and strategies – can you identify their best practice? You might want to spend some time establishing an overview of what the current approaches are to digital marketing, in your own industry as well as beyond. This is useful both from the point of view of incorporating anything you may have missed and also identifying areas that have been unsuccessful and where you could improve on the efforts of others.

Set yourself actual benchmarks against other similar businesses in your sector, against market competitors and against perhaps one other business outside of your industry that has seen particular success taking a similar digital marketing approach. Finally, draw yourself an improvement timeline that includes targets and improvements based on everything you have learned about the strategies adopted by others and where the holes in these lie.


Finally, incorporating the research and views of those who have expertise can considerably enhance success. For example, Dave Chaffey, author of Total Email Marketing, devised the model CRITICAL, which looks at the kinds of factors you should be assessing when measuring the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns. These are:

Creative – i.e. the layout, colour, the images used and the written content.

Relevance – “Does the offer and creative of the email meet recipients’ needs?”

Incentive (or offer) – how does the email recipient benefit from clicking on the email link?

Targeting and timing – are you targeting your entire list with a single message or opting for tailored messages for different list segments? Also, are the emails being sent to coincide with certain events, other marketing content, on a specific day/time?

Integration – have you integrated the email marketing with the rest of the strategy i.e. is it brand consistent, reinforcing your brand message, in line with other communications, whether offline or on?

Copy – how does your copy read, what is the style and structure and where are the hyperlinks placed?

Attributes – this relates to the basic attributes – format (text or HTML), to and from addresses, subject line etc. These basics can affect key elements like deliverability and avoiding the spam box.

Landing page – is the landing page communicating consistently and simply?

If you’re looking to start improving the effectiveness of your email campaigns then learning how to measure success is a key place to start. Once you can see what works and what doesn’t, and where room for improvement lies, you can begin to increase the return on all that development effort.