Day 5: Decide which metrics matter and measure them regularly

On the final day of our mini-course, we’re looking at simple ways to measure the effectiveness of your email and how to make small adjustments to keep improving the open rates! 

So even though we talked yesterday about how Tuesdays and Thursdays typically have the best results, we know that it’s different for everyone. And how did those who reported that these days worked best for them know that? Because they tested it.

It’s important to know first that testing doesn’t have to be scientific or complicated. Our theme all week has been to keep this process simple. Otherwise, you’re just not going to stick to any kind of regular email schedule. So how does simple testing look?

  1. It looks like keeping track of when you sent the emails (day of the week + time of day)

  2. It looks like tracking how many people actually opened the email

  3. It looks like tracking which buttons/links were clicked within the email

  4. It looks like tracking how many people unsubscribed from your email list

While this mini course doesn’t allow for us to get into too many specifics about email platforms, it is relevant to tell you here that there are really great platforms out there that will track these metrics for you! The emails you’ve been receiving from me all week were sent using MailChimp and I can see all of the stats above, plus some!

Side note here: If you’re not ready to dive into learning a new platform, I get that. You can absolutely use your own email system you use everyday but just use caution as your list grows. (Sending to too many people at once can trigger spam filters easily). And, you’ll be at a disadvantage of not being able to track some of the basic metrics.

Let’s look at a few of these metrics more closely:

Open Rates: What percentage of the email recipients actually opened the email

The typical nonprofit open rate is between 20-30% so anything above that is better than average! For small businesses, the rates vary in wide range, depending on the industry. (I found this site had some helpful charts to see the rates by industry.)

Click-Through Rate (CTR): What percentage of the email recipients clicked one or more links in the email

Again, these stats will vary but in general, we’re talking 3-5% of people who will follow a link. This is where really relevant content comes into play and where personalization will make or break your metrics.

Conversion Rate: What percentage of the email recipients who clicked one or more links in the email actually completed the task you presented (i.e. signed up, donated, printed a coupon, etc.).

Again, these stats will vary but this is your ultimate goal. We’ve done all this work this week to build an email that makes people want to open it, read it, click a link, and do the thing. Now do you see why those call to actions are so important? If we don’t start with a CTA in mind, we’ll never know if the emails are working.

Today's 5-minute task

Decide which metrics are most important to you and choose one or two to track and measure. Make notes about whether or not you'll explore MailChimp or Constant Contact or just use your own email system. No matter what you choose, make a plan and do it!


Wow! We’ve covered so much ground this week when it comes to creating an email marketing program that is effective and customized to fit your organization or business. I’ve been getting great feedback all week about what you’re learning and best of all, what you’re planning to do in 2019! I can’t thank you enough for sticking with me all week to learn about how email marketing can take your nonprofit or business to the next level!

I’ll be sending you one final email tomorrow morning to wrap everything up and give you a few options if you feel like you need just a little more help on getting your emails up and running. So watch for that tomorrow! Again, thanks for joining me in this 5-day Mini Course and happy emailing!

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Andrea Shirey