5 Vital Nonprofit Email Marketing Metrics

Check out these five email metrics that should be tracked with every marketing and fundraising email your nonprofit sends out.

Of course there are other nonprofit email marketing metrics you might want to keep an eye on, but these are the crucial ones that will help you determine whether your nonprofit’s email strategy is working or if it needs some fine-tuning.

Delivery Rate

The first email marketing key metric you should look at is delivery rate. Delivery rate is the number of emails sent minus the number of bounces divided by the number of emails sent. It’s usually expressed as a percentage.

For example, if you send 1,000 emails and 45 bounce back, then your delivery rate is 95.5 percent (1000 – 45)/1000 = .955 or 95.5 percent).

This doesn’t mean the emails that didn’t bounce back went to your subscribers’ inboxes. All this number means is that 95.5 percent of your emails were delivered – but some of those emails could be in spam or bulk folders.

Why does delivery rate matter? The delivery rate gives you an idea of the health of your list. If you’re seeing a large percentage of emails that are not being delivered, you may want to re-evaluate how you are acquiring email addresses. Keep an eye on your sender reputation and make sure you are regularly removing undeliverable addresses from your list.

Open Rate

The open rate is the number of emails opened by your subscribers divided by the number of emails delivered. The open rate determines the percentage of people who saw your message. Open rate, while an important overall indicator of the success of your email campaigns, should be taken with a grain of salt. As I mentioned in an earlier post, opens are tracked via a small image that is placed in the email. Each time this image is downloaded from the server, an open is recorded.

Don’t assume that a great open rate means that all those people actually read your email. This could just mean that someone viewed your email quickly in a preview pane or glanced at it on a mobile phone.

Click Through Rate

Click through rate is calculated by dividing the number of people who click on a link in your email by the number of emails delivered. Also expressed as a percentage, this number gives you an idea of the people who engaged with your message versus the people who merely saw it.

This metric matters more than open rate because it shows a deeper level of interaction with your organization’s emails. The people who clicked on a link in your email took the time to do more than just view your email.

Click to Open Rate (Engagement Rate)

Often overlooked, the click to open rate (CTOR or engagement rate) is calculated by dividing the number of clicks by the number of opens. This measurement provides an assessment of the content of emails. By calculating the percentage of people who both saw your content and interacted with it, you can determine if your email resonated with your subscribers.

Click to open rate is a fantastic gauge of how good your content is, but it can vary widely from email to email. Either way, if you have a CTOR of 5 percent, you ought to be thinking about what you can do to better engage your subscribers. And if it’s 45 percent, you should examine the message closely to determine what inspired your subscribers to take action.

Unsubscribe Rate

It may not be the sexiest email marketing key metric, but you need to track it.  Unsubscribe rate is the number of people who click the unsubscribe link in your email divided by the number of emails delivered. This metric tells you whether you are living up to your subscribers’ expectations.  If you’re seeing a high unsubscribe rate, ask yourself if your nonprofit is sending emails that you would want to read. If the answer is yes, then look at other factors that might contribute to the high level of unsubscribes – how frequently your organization send emails and what time of the day the emails are sent. Even though unsubscribe rates could be generally low on a message-to-message basis, these unsubscribes add up over time and can have a significant negative impact on your list over the course of a year or two.

Is your nonprofit just kicking off its email campaign? Here are some ideas for successful nonprofit email campaigns.

Questions? Leave a note in the comments section below or send an email to connect [at] mediacause [dot] org.


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