Tracking and measuring results

The relative success of an email marketing campaign or single email communication can be judged on a variety of criteria, depending on your goals and objectives. As you learn more about your constituents’ online preferences, polish your message, and develop benchmarks for successful email marketing campaigns, you’ll be able to fine-tune your strategy. 



Helpful benchmarks to evaluate your results

Open rate

This is the percentage of recipients who open (view) your message divided by the number of messages delivered. Though not indicative the number of people who actually read your message, this measure can give you a good idea of your subject line effectiveness and helps you to track trends. A good open rate for nonprofit email appeals is around 20 percent, while a good open rate for an email newsletter is slightly higher — around 22 percent. 


Click-through rate (CTR)

Calculates the percentage of recipients who click on links within the body of your email. CTR indicates the effectiveness of the text and graphics in your email message, as well as the level of interest in your campaign or organization. Your email marketing tool should allow you to determine the individual CTR for each link as well as an aggregate CTR for the message as a whole. A good click-through rate for email appeals is 2 to 3 percent, while a good CTR for email newsletters is 3.5 to 4 percent


Response rate

Response rate measures the percentage of recipients who take some type of action—such as completing a survey, signing a petition or making a donation— after clicking through to your website. The response rate can be influenced by many factors, including the mix of prospects and active donors in the recipient list, the degree to which the list is composed of organically acquired versus appended emails, and the effectiveness of the email appeal and landing page/donation form. A good response rate for an email appeal is around .15 to .16 percent.


Opt-out (or unsubscribe) rate

If subscribers do not continue to find content compelling, they may choose to unsubscribe, or “opt out” of receiving future email communications from your organization. Your email marketing tool should allow you to include an unsubscribe link at the bottom of your message, and automatically process opt-outs. Increases in your unsubscribe rate can be an indicator of over-frequent or inappropriate communications. Your opt-out rate should be at 0.1 to 0.2 percent.


Forward rate

Another measure of success is the frequency with which supporters forward messages to their family and friends, and whether those additional recipients click through.