ICIS Advertising Solutions

Email delivering improved business performance


Measure everything you can about your email campaigns, and learn from the results. Test different subject lines, designs and offers – and see your ongoing analytics and testing deliver improved business performance.


Marketers love the measurability of email marketing. With 75% of emails opened within 24 hours and 84% inside 48 hours you can soon see how your campaigns are doing.  Analytics can tell you how individual campaigns perform – and how they stack up against the overall targets for your business.


Performance metrics

The primary metrics used to measure email performance are the open rate and the click rate:


  • Open Rate (OR)

Calculation: Number of emails opened divided by number of html emails delivered

Caveats: Having preview pane open means emails are considered open, so this can overestimate open rates but only if images are downloaded. Image blocking also blocks the open rate tracking pixel, which leads to underestimating open rates. Therefore open rates can be misleading. But they’re still a valuable metric to use as relative measure, a guideline for consistency or a clue to deliverability or content blocking problems.

Drivers: Your newsletter is targeted correctly; your brand is trusted and valued and you have a branded "from" line; compelling subject line. Keep the subject line shorter than 50 characters. Optimise autopreview

Note: As inactives are removed from your lists ORs will automatically improve


  • Click Through Rate (CTR)

Calculation: Total clicks divided by emails delivered

Drivers: Preview pane optimisation; captivating and relevant headlines and abstracts. Increased number of hyperlinks leads to increased CTR’s.


  • Click To Open Rate (CT/OR)

Calculation: Total clicks divided by emails opened

A measure of active interest in your newsletter and the quality of its content. The CTOR measures how effective your email message was in motivating recipients who opened it to then click the links.

Drivers: Compelling, relevant, engaging content, incl. tactics, e.g. whitepapers/downloads, how-to articles; captivating headlines and abstracts; good design and flow


  • Conversion rate

Calculation: The number of people who acted on your email (made a purchase or undertook another desired action), divided by the number who received it.

Email Service Providers (ESP) or mailing houses will provide all these statistics as a matter of course, as will any proprietary email software program. If you are not using an ESP, then Google has some helpful advice about how to add in the necessary tags.



Campaign tracking


Track every campaign you run, measuring the performance of each against the other. Open rates, click rates and conversions can vary widely from industry to industry, but here are some general benchmarks for you. Emails sent in a B2B sales context can benchmark against a 21.75% open rate and 2.29% click rate.


How to test your campaigns


You should also test the content and subject lines of your emails. You can test three variables –

  1. the subject line you use,

  2. the offer you present, and

  3. the creative treatment you employ

(but remember, only test one variable per mailing, or the results will be impossible to interpret!)


To test your subject lines, for instance, follow this process.  come up with two subject lines and half the mailing list received a subject line stating a clear benefit, for example “Discover best practice in email marketing” while the other half got a question, “Do your emails get opened?”  After the email has been delivered you can compare the results you receive from this test.


There are a variety of other tests to run such as:

  • time of day and day of the week that you send mailings
  • from line
  • language used
  • html vs text only
  • images
  • buttons vs links
  • colours and fonts

It’s important to extend analysis and testing beyond the performance of individual emails, to look at overall marketing objectives.  Metrics to apply here include Return On Investment (ROI), leads generated, average order value, customer retention and traffic to your site.  For more detail on these wider measures, and how to use them, here