Interpreting Your Email Metrics

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There are ample email marketing metrics to follow, but so many numbers can sometimes be confusing. How do we, as marketers, interpret the data from our email sends? What questions should we ask in order to fix data that’s not telling us what we need to know?

In this post, we’ve shortcut these problems with a handy reference list of key questions for three major red flags of email statistics: low open rates, low click rates and low conversion rates. 

Low open rate ?

If your emails are having low open rates, there are three main places to look for the problem: segmentation, deliverability and subject lines. A good rule of thumb is that an open rate of less than 15% is usually too low.

  1.Segmentation: Are you sending your email to the right audience?

Segmentation helps you reach people who are interested in receiving your email based on their behavior, preferences and demographics. If you send email blasts to large portions of your whole list, you may be using ineffective segmentation, which can lead to deliverability problems.

  2. Deliverability: Is your email landing in an inbox or spam folder?

Recipients won’t open your emails if they never see your emails. Very few emails are seen if they land in any other folder besides the inbox, so poor deliverability often keeps your open rates low. In this case, you can often spot a lower open rate for certain inbox providers. For example, a low open rate in Gmail but strong open rates for other inboxes can be corrected by setting higher standards for which Gmail users you include in your next send.

Klaviyo Advance Reports break down open rates across inbox providers. In the example below, nearly the full engaged list was used, but Hotmail recipients who had not opened in 200 Days were excluded.

Clearly, though, 200 days turned out to be too low of a bar. There were still plenty of Hotmail subscribers who had opened more recently and still seemed uninterested according to Hotmail. So we made the following segment to exclude from the next campaign. 


This allowed us to maintain the same segment size, while restricting only Hotmail. We simply excluded anyone with “@hotmail” in their email address who hadn’t opened in the last 40 days.

The result is that the remaining Hotmail recipients after that exclusion were much more engaged. 

  3.Subject Lines: Do yours draw in or drive away?

If your open rate problem is not due to bad segmentation or deliverability problems, it is likely that you could address it by experimenting with new subject lines. Are your subject lines intriguing and generating curiosity in the recipients, or do they sound spammy? Researching and following best practices here can improve your open rates.

Low click rate ?

Low click rates problems can be tracked down to two main sources. Ask yourself:

1)      Does your content match your target audience?

Content that fails to interest your recipients is often the root cause of low engagement with your emails. This is especially true if you overpromise in your subject lines but underdeliver in the email’s body. Make sure that your content is relevant, engaging and fit for your audience.

2)      Is your CTA clear?

Your Call to Action should be crystal clear in your email. Put yourself in the recipient’s shoes and ask: is it obvious where I should click? Is the CTA button easy to find with a quick glance, or is it hidden below a wall of text? Have you reserved a special color used only for the CTA and nowhere else so that it catches the reader’s eye immediately? Tweaking your email template to make your CTA obvious usually increases low click rates.


Low conversion rate?

Is your conversion rate (placed orders divided by recipients) low? Are sales disappointing despite solid open and click rates?


First, consider whether your email is an informative newsletter or a promo. Promos tend to convert better than newsletter because they usually offer a coupon or some other time-limited reason to buy. Then, ask yourself: does my website follow through on what my email promised? Not only regarding the offer, but also with the email design itself. 

A well crafted email can increase click rates and traffic sent to your website, but conversion rates may stay low if people land on a website with an unenticing design, unclear clickpath or even if the design of the email fails to match the design of the landing page. In fact, the greater the disparity between the quality of the email design and the quality of the web page design, the lower the conversion rates.  

These are the most important email metrics to address, and they need to be continuously tracked in order to guide improvements to segmentation, email design, copy and overall strategy. What’s a statistic you always track that makes the biggest difference in your email performance? Comment below to let us know!


Rodrigo Santiago Juacaba and Thomas McClintock

Hustler Marketing

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