How to optimize your email marketing for better results

How to optimize your email marketing for better results

How do you know how your email marketing performs? How are your emails being received by your recipients, and what do you need to improve? What metrics should I use? What should be considered?

In this part of the guide series, you’ll get tips and tricks on how to measure the impact of your email marketing and what you can do to optimize them.

Whether you’re just getting started or have been doing email marketing for a few years, follow-up is something you should take seriously. With that said, we would still like to stress that the most important thing when it comes to email marketing is that you send your newsletters.

Your most important metric should be to get regularity in your email marketing. Once you’ve got that routine down, you can start thinking about how to optimize and get even better at writing and designing newsletters.

Table of contents

KPIs for email marketing and newsletters

What is open rate in email marketing?

Open Rate

What is a open rate?

Open rate is a measure of how many people open your emails. It is one of the most common ways to measure the impact of your mailings. An unread email is, by definition, a wasted email. Open rate is the best measure of interest in your mailing.

What is a good open rate?

The average open rate is 19%, but open rates differ between industries along with B2B and B2C mailings. The best thing to do is to find out what applies to your particular industry so that you have a benchmark to compare to.

What are the limitations of the open rate metric?

There are some limitations to the ratio. Nothing is telling the sending mail server that an email has been opened. To measure open rate, you add an invisible image to the email, and when that image is invoked (opened), the mail is reported as opened.

As a result, a certain amount of blindness may appear in the opening rate. For example, if the recipient’s email program automatically blocks images or if the recipient reads the email on a mobile phone and chooses not to download images in the email, for example, to save mobile data.

What can you do to improve the opening frequency?

Write great subject lines – Test which subject lines your recipients seem to like. To find out, it’s wise to A/B test the subject lines. That is, divide the recipients into two groups and use different headings to see which one gets the most open emails.

  • Use a proper sender

  • Add SPF & DKIM – Two settings that tell recipients’ servers that your emails are legitimate (and no one is trying to impersonate you).

  • Find the right time – The time when you send out your email. You’ll need to experiment to find the right time for your target audience. Weekday or weekend? Morning or afternoon?

  • Educate recipients – Alert your subscribers that emails and newsletters sometimes are automatically sorted to the Campaign tab in email programs. It may be a good idea to include information on how recipients go about moving emails to the primary inbox in the confirmation email. So that it’s right from the start and your emails get the open rate they deserve.

For example, you could write:

To move the mail from the Campaign tab to Primary, you need to (1) add our sender address to your contacts and (2) move the email from Campaign to Primary so that the email program learns where your emails should go.

What is click-through rate in email marketing?

Click-Through Rate

What is a click-through rate?

Click-through rate is a measurement of how many people have clicked on links in your emails. It can be broken down to measure how many people have clicked on a single link, such as your main call-to-action link. Click-through rate is a sign of engagement. The reader has deliberately chosen to go ahead because something in your email was of particular interest.

What is a a good click-through rate?

The average click-through rate for newsletters is 3.7%. If you get around that, you should be happy and pat yourself on the back. But of course, you want to get as high engagement on your buttons and links as possible.

What are the limitations of the click-through rate metric?

Technically, newsletter services like Get a Newsletter can’t tell if it’s a human or a curious application that has clicked through to an email. Curious programs could be, for example, spam filters, anti-virus software, or similar.

Please go in and check the email when it is received to make sure that it does not contain any anomalies with incorrect click records. Nevertheless, click-through rates are a good measure of interest and engagement over time.

What can you do to improve click-through rates?

  • Clear call-to-actions – See if you can further simplify and clarify your CTAs. Is it crystal clear what you want the recipient to do next after they’ve read your email? Can you be sure you only have one clear call-to-action per email, so that the reader doesn’t get confused about where to click? Test yourself.

  • Timing – Timing can also have an impact. Are you sending the email when your audience is most likely to be able to engage with your content? Perhaps they’re not quite ready to click on your links at 7.30 am on a weekday morning (in the middle of logistics duty), whereas they’re all the more likely to click through around 11.30 am when they’re sitting eating lunch? Develop a hypothesis and test it.

  • Accessibility – Are you sure the email looks the same to everyone? To be sure that everyone has the same opportunity to access your entire email, include a link so they can read the email in their browser.

  • Some email programs cannot read advanced code such as buttons. The recipient may also have switched off the loading of images and missed your point if it was only visible via an image.

  • Mobile responsiveness – Always double-check that your email looks good on any screen. Remember, most emails are read on mobile.
What is conversion rate in email marketing?

Conversion Rate

What is a conversion rate?

Conversion rate is a measure of how many of your readers went on to do what you wanted them to do after reading your email. A “conversion” does not necessarily mean a purchase.

Depending on what you want to achieve with your emails, a “conversion” for you might be the number of people who signed up for a webinar, signed up for a trial of your product, or downloaded a file. In other words, the number who did what you wanted them to do next after reading the email.

What is a good conversion rate?

2-5% is usually considered a good conversion rate for newsletters. But again, it depends on what industry you are working in. Constantly strive to improve your conversion rate, and use your average as a benchmark. If you manage to get a better conversion rate than the average benchmark in your industry, you should be happy with your efforts.

What are the limitations of the conversion rate metric?

You need to monitor conversion rates using external analytics software such as Google Analytics. You won’t see conversion rates directly in Get a Newsletter’s tool.

Luckily, you can easily add your Google Analytics tracking tag to the email, so you can track how many purchases and signups are coming from your email sendings.

What can you do to improve conversion rates?

  • Create easy-to-read emails – People who open your emails rarely read all the content, but rather scan through the content. If you want them to pick up on what you have to say, be sure the email is easy to scan through. Airy layout, clear headlines, the body text of 15-18 pixels, and preferably one theme per email (max 3).

  • Have a crystal clear CTAs – First and foremost, you need to get that click-through rate. How did you get that click-through rate? You need to work on being clear about what you want the reader to do. Do you want them to sign up for an event? Do you want them to take advantage of an offer? Say it.

  • Build the relationship first, sell second – People like to buy from someone they trust (and preferably know). It takes an average of 7 touch points with a brand before they’re ready to buy. In other words, it might be worth sending 7 newsletters where you focus on the customer getting to know you and your brand before going for the hard sell.

  • Of course, you could offer some cheery discount code or tell them about your services before then, but your main focus at the beginning should be building a customer relationship.

  • Limited time offers – When it feels relevant, take the opportunity to send something that will help nudge the reader over the edge into making the decision. For example, this could be discount codes or access to exclusive content if they make the decision here and now.

  • Use social proof – What have others thought of what you’re offering? How many satisfied customers do you currently have? Increase confidence that the reader will make a good choice if they go ahead with what you have to offer.
What is unsubscribe rate in email marketing?

Unsubscribe Rate

What is a unsubscribe rate?

The unsubscribe rate is a measure of how many of your readers unsubscribe from your email list. It shows how your emails are received by the recipients and how well it resonates with their likes and dislikes.

What is a good unsubscribe rate?

The average unsubscribe rate per newsletter is 0.1%. You can expect at least 0.1% to unsubscribe every time you send a newsletter, so don’t be blind trying to get this figure down to 0.

A certain percentage of unsubscriptions is normal. However, if the figure goes above 2%, it’s time to look at what might be causing it.

What are the limitations of the unsubscription rate ratio?

There is a gap in the number of passively unsubscribed subscribers. These are the subscribers who have not bothered to go in and actively unsubscribe but have stopped opening, reading, and clicking on your emails.

Perhaps your emails have even been relegated to a separate inbox. In this way, the Unsubscribe Rate is not a 100% accurate measure of how many people unsubscribe.

What can you do to reduce unsubscriptions?

  • Give a warm welcome – The chances of retaining subscribers for a longer period increase if you give them a warm welcome from the start. Tell them who you are, what you will offer in your emails, and what they can expect from you. That way, once you start sending out your emails, they’re unlikely to have forgotten about you.

  • Always create clear value for the recipient – Before you click send, always ask yourself – what will the reader get reading your email? Is there anything else you can do to make the email about the recipient?

  • Send often enough – You know how annoying it can be with senders popping up in your inbox daily. Maybe not because you don’t want the emails, but because you don’t have the time to keep up with the mailings. They just fill your inbox.

    A great way to find out the frequency that suits you the best is to keep an eye on your unsubscribe rate. If it increases, you can take it as a sign that you may have been sending too often.

  • Vary the content – sameness gets boring in the long run. Let your creativity flow and give that little extra to entertain the recipient. Then you’ll keep them longer.

Bounce Rate

What is a bounce rate?

The bounce rate is a measure of the percentage of your emails that cannot get delivered to the recipient’s inbox. It’s a good measure to find out how your email list is performing and whether you’re firing on all cylinders when you do your mailings. That is if you are paying to send to recipients who are not reached by your emails anyway.

Note that a distinction exists between hard and soft bounces. A hard bounce means the email address does not exist. For example, it may be misspelled or deleted by the recipient. A soft bounce is caused by temporary problems such as technical problems on the receiving server, full inboxes, or spam filters.

In Get a Newsletter, a contact is deactivated immediately after a hard bounce, but only after three soft bounces.

What is a good bounce rate?

Try to keep the bounce rate below 5%. A bounce rate of over 15% is considered very high and a sign that you should review your email lists.

What are the limitations of the bounce rate ratio?

You will only see the bounce rate once you have sent an email. There is no way to see in advance which addresses are incorrect.

Therefore, to avoid a high bounce rate, you need to find a way to continuously keep up to date with the email addresses of your potential customers. You don’t want to waste a chance to communicate with a potential customer just because the customer has changed the email address for example.

To solve this, you can include a line at the bottom of the email with information on how they can update their email address when they change.

What can you do to improve the bounce rate?

  • Use Double opt-in – Send an email that requires the recipient to reply or click to confirm the email address, so they indicate that they want your mailings.

  • Keep your email lists updated – Clean up your email lists periodically and ask contacts to update their email addresses.

  • Avoid spam filters – Avoid capitals and exclamation marks, have a good balance between text and images and be a clear sender. In other words, be sure to play by the spam filter’s rules.

Return On Investment (ROI)

What is ROI?

ROI is a measure of how much you earn per dollar invested in your email marketing. That is, the time you spend and the money you pay to do the emails. Newsletters are known to be the digital marketing channel with the highest ROI.

What is a good return on investment for newsletters?

The average ROI for email campaigns and newsletters is 36%. This means that for every dollar you invest in email marketing and newsletters, you will get back $36.

What are the limitations of the ROI ratio?

It can be tricky to calculate the return on investment for your email marketing as a whole. The calculation is based on the total profit you can link to your email marketing divided by the total cost of your email marketing.

The hard part will be drawing the line in terms of costs. To get an idea, you have to make an estimate. From writing your first word on a newsletter to having a new customer, what are the costs for time and mailing?

What can you do to improve the return on investment?

To improve the return on your newsletter marketing channel, you need to work on all the points above. You need to do everything to increase your open rate, click-through rate, and conversion rate.

At the same time, you also need to work on reducing bounce rates and unsubscribe rates. A minor improvement at a time will yield great results in the long run.


So, in summary, there are a set of things you can work on to improve all the KPIs mentioned above.

First and foremost, it’s about how you write your emails, that the content is tailor-made to the recipient, what subject lines you use, and that the emails are designed appealingly. You can experiment with the number and timing of your emails based on the time of day when your target audience is most receptive.
It is also worth reviewing your email lists periodically to reduce bounces. You may also consider removing contacts who have never opened your emails, as they will affect your statistics.

When talking about metrics, it’s important to remember that emails and newsletters are long-term investments. It produces results over time. Of course, it’s great if your emails are liked from the start, that open rates & clicks flourish and that you instantly get a bunch of visitors who convert into customers.

Keep in mind that it may take a lot of testing before you get it right. The most important thing is that you have a plan, submit it continuously, work on milestones and test your way through with minor improvements.

Do you find you’re not getting the impact you want, even though you’ve been experimenting and optimizing for a while? Then don’t be afraid to ask your readers what they want to see more and less of.

Over to you

We’re your cheering squad! And remember, we’re just an email away. Feel free to ask us if you have any questions or concerns about how to analyze and optimize your emails.

Drop us an email at, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we possibly can.

Keep reading