Measuring Your Nonprofit’s Email Performance

September 8, 2018

It’s critical to measure and understand campaigns, so we can continually improve them. Today we’re talking about measuring email performance. If you’re like me, then emails are a big part of your marketing programs. Let’s talk about some specific data points and how you can use them to improve your email program.

First, open rates are about much more than a good subject line. Consider the following questions if you notice a decrease in open rates:

  1. Did you use the right sender? Changing the sender can affect your open rate—a celebrity endorsement or a trusted advisor can have a big impact.
  2. Was your spam score low? Stay aware of the latest words being flagged by service providers, and avoid those words in your content. 
  3. Are you sending too many emails? Know your audience and the information you are providing, so you can gauge the proper frequency of your emails.

Next, while good writing leads to strong engagement as well as high click-through and click-to-open rates, here are some other questions you can ask to help improve these rates: 

  1. Are you leveraging personalization opportunities? You likely have more information in your database than you realize. Use this information to make emails personal and targeted.
  2. Is your formatting hard to read? Bold fonts and colors are not always effective. Sometimes a simple template that is easy to read is the best approach.   
  3. What is your call to action? Consider what you’re asking your audience to do.  Whether it’s a simple click to download an asset or an invitation to attend a webinar, consider the level of commitment you are asking for and what impact it may have on your click-through rate. 

Finally, everything we’ve talked about also affects your unsubscribe rate. If you’re not providing content that is engaging, easy to read, and personalized, your intended receiver may opt out. Know your standard unsubscribe rate, and be sure to investigate emails that show an increase.

There are standard benchmarks on all these key data points, so start by comparing your rates with industry standards to get an idea of how you are doing. Then dig into the things we’ve discussed today.

Thanks for watching. See you next time! 

Quick Definitions

Open Rate: This measures the number of people who open your email relative to the number of people who receive it. In other words, if 100 people receive your email, and 20 open it, the open rate is 20%.

Click-Through Rate: This measures the number of people who click on a link in your email relative to the number of people who receive it. So, if 100 people receive your email, and 10 click on a link, the click-through rate is 10%. 

Click-to-Open Rate: This measures the number of people who click on a link in your email relative to the number of people who open it. So, if 20 people open your email, and 10 people click a link, then your click-to-open rate is 50%. Unlike the click-through rate, this measurement only accounts for those who open your email, so it’s a better measurement of the strength of your email content. 

Unsubscribe Rate: This is an important tool for measuring a healthy email file. It measures the number of people who click to unsubscribe relative to the number of people who receive an email.


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