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Email Marketing KPI and strategies

Email Marketing – strategies, potentialities, and best practices

With an average return on investment estimated at 122%, Email Marketing is a key channel for acquiring clients, building customer loyalty, and generating sales.  Thanks to this powerful tool, you will be able to tell your brand, propose promotions targeted to the right customers, and monitor attitudes and habits in order to optimize your strategies. Increasing e-Commerce sales through Email Marketing campaigns will be a consequence of mastering this powerful communication channel. However, to succeed, you need to know:

  • Definition of Email Marketing
  • Benefits
  • Newsletters and DEMs
  • KPIs to monitor
  • Communicating through Email Marketing
  • Email Marketing Automation
  • Email Marketing Examples

Definition of Email Marketing

As you may guess, Email Marketing is a powerful marketing channel that uses email to promote a company’s products or services. Not only is it an excellent tool for conversion and brand awareness, but it is also a kind of direct marketing that reaches the customers and guides them in their decision-making process.

As it is part of Digital Marketing, Email Marketing takes place exclusively online and via email. It is a fantastic promotion instrument that still today does not stop, and the reason for such longevity is to be found in its advantages.


Email Marketing offers many advantages to companies that use the email channel integrated with their marketing strategy. Particularly:

  • First of all, its Cost. Email marketing has a significantly lower cost compared to other forms of promotion. This is because it is sufficient to have a list of email addresses to create your messages promoting products, invitations to fill out a form, or visit a page of your site.
  • Adaptability. Email Marketing can be employed for any marketing strategy — from increasing sales to reinforcing brand awareness. Although it is also used in the offline dimension, it is in the online and particularly in the e-Commerce world that Email Marketing is most successful. 
  • Message customization. Thanks to Emails, you can communicate with the voice of your brand at the time you feel most appropriate, without limits of customization.
  • Results analysis. One of the main advantages of Email Marketing is the traceability of results. It’s possible to measure and consequently keep under control every single aspect of the message, from its opening, up to the rate of sharing of the content. 
  • Testing the effectiveness of the message. Which one is better, an email with more text or an email with more visual content? Thanks to so-called A/B Tests, which are easily implemented in an Email Marketing strategy, you can try different content variations and choose the one that converts the most.
  • Process automation. From thank-you emails for signing up on your site to notification messages about the delivery of an e-Commerce order. Email marketing allows you to automate sending messages by linking them to a specific external event (from filling out a form to the delivery of an order). 

In order to achieve maximum effectiveness and take full advantage of these benefits, you must be aware of your Email Marketing strategy, the goal you want to achieve, and also the frequency of sending.

Newsletters and DEM

email marketing - Qapla'

Speaking of Email Marketing, it is necessary to understand the possible uses that a company can make of emails: DEM and newsletters will be your favorite formats to build your end customers’ engagement. The acronym of Direct Email Marketing stands for all those emails sent by a company for advertising purposes. Instead, with the term Newsletters, we identify all those emails sent to your subscribers with informative purposes or storytelling of your brand. What are the elements that distinguish and associate them?

  • Periodicity. The frequency of sending a DEM is occasional and in relation to specific moments of your communication calendar, such as the sales period or the very important Black Friday.  As far as newsletters are concerned, the tendency is to schedule them as a periodic event to make it a reading habit for the recipient.
  • Graphic layout. A DEM and its UX (User Experience) graphics are designed for the single sending, have a high visual impact, and a Call To Action (CTA) to click on a particular link. The goal is to encourage the user to follow the first step to access your website and proceed with those that will lead to purchase. On the other hand, the graphics of a newsletter have a unique layout that is repeated over time to facilitate identifying the message and especially of your brand.
  • Lists of contacts. The contacts to whom you send your DEMs can be organized in various ways. Manage your database to create lists and segments within them to profile your users better and send content and promotions tailored to each of them. Always remember that your contacts must have given their consent according to GDPR guidelines. Include a sign-up form on your site, also associating it with a small discount on upcoming purchases to entice your users.

KPIs to monitor

The digital world has accustomed us to keeping under observation the results of all the activities we regularly carry out, facilitating their use and helping to formulate future strategies on the results obtained in the past. Email Marketing is certainly no exception. Once a DEM campaign has been launched or a Newsletter has been sent, it becomes necessary to monitor all the performance indexes or KPIs — Key Performance Indicators — which reveal the emails’ effectiveness.

Click-Through Rate — CTR

The first essential KPI for analyzing the performance of an email is the Click-Through Rate (CTR). This helps determine the quality of the content of an email, from the arrangement of images to the clicks on a Call To Action. It is calculated by dividing the number of people who clicked on the elements contained in the email by the number of emails delivered.

Click Through Open Rate — CTOR

The CTOR is a significant performance indicator when you need to evaluate the effectiveness of a newsletter or a DEM campaign because it measures the number of clicks compared to the number of openings.

The Click-Through Open Rate is advantageous when we want to answer questions such as, “How many people interacted with the elements of the email compared to those who simply opened it?”

Conversion Rate — CR

Also known as Conversion Rate, CR is one of the most popular KPIs in the e-Commerce universe, and such widespread use is only justified by its importance. The Conversion Rate measures the performance of an email in relation to the set goal, which can range from reading an article on the Blog to filling out a sign-up form.

The Conversion Rate can be easily measured with tools like Google Analytics that allow you to view the origin of traffic and consequently know whether a user has visited one of your blog articles thanks to a newsletter or simply from a query typed on a search engine. This KPI is calculated by dividing the number of users who reached the target by the number of emails delivered.

Bounce Rate — BR

The Bounce Rate is a percentage indicating how many of the emails you sent failed to deliver due to an error. The errors that can occur are mainly of two types:

  • Permanent errors such as fictional or invalid email addresses that cause a so-called Hard Bounce;
  • Temporary delivery issues such as full email boxes or mail server malfunctions that cause a Soft Bounce.

Constantly monitoring this KPI is essential to ensure that all emails sent are delivered. This is easily calculated by comparing the number of failed emails with the total number of emails sent.

Unique Open Rate — UOR

Unique Open Rate is a performance index counting exclusively all users who have opened the email or clicked on the content within it at least once. The Unique Open Rate, therefore, differs from its twin Open Rate. Since the latter is calculated on the total, it does not take into account the possibility that a user opens the same email more than once. 

The Unique Open Rate is calculated by dividing unique clicks or unique opens by the number of emails delivered.

List Growth Rate

For an overall view, it is necessary to monitor the volume measured in terms of email addresses and, in particular its growth or decrease. The List Growth Rate is a KPI of absolute importance that measures the growth rate of an email list.

You can calculate it by taking the number of new email addresses acquired minus the number of all email addresses that unsubscribed. Once you divide the result of this subtraction by the total number of addresses on the list you will get the List Growth Rate. You will then be able to understand how much your email list has grown/decreased.

You could then develop your Email Marketing strategy by offering new content if the List Growth Rate has decreased or decide to continue with the strategy you are already following if the List Growth Rate is positive.

Recapture Rate — Rec

The Recapture Rate is a performance index that measures the number of messages that have been delivered to the destination server without returning an error or bounce message.

When referring to this index, it should be considered that it is not sure that all email messages sent have been delivered to the Inbox.

Email Sharing

Email Sharing, also known as Forwarding Rate, indicates the percentage of sharing the content of an email through Social Networks or forwarding it to other contacts. This KPI highlights the ability to create new contacts through the value of email content measured in terms of relevance.

Communicating through Email Marketing 

When considering how best to communicate through your email marketing efforts there are a few key elements that cannot be left to chance:

  • Tone of Voice (ToV): your brand is characterized by several elements. The most important ones are undoubtedly the product and your brand identity to which, however, it is appropriate to associate a Tone of Voice, that is the way your brand will relate to customers by promoting the products, but also its values. The Tone of Voice must be credible and represents an important feature to characterize your brand and create engagement with users. It is possible to structure it by relying on communication experts and copywriters who can create for you the guidelines to follow. 
Email Marketing Communication
  • Content: it is important to define what are your sales or promotion objectives in order to understand what to communicate. Combining your commercial objectives with those of the communication department is fundamental to constitute your mailing calendar and the content. Do you want to increase sales of a particular product? Or to promote one of the company’s values? Each of these hypothetical objectives falls into its own format. In case, say your strategy is to increase sales by cross-selling banners with gift coupons in your delivery emails might prove to be the best solution. In conclusion, the subject of your email, the header, the preheader, and the body should be created keeping in mind the marketing objectives and through the predetermined Tone of Voice.
  • Length: as you may guess, each format has its own rules. For an informative newsletter, whose objective is to tell about the brand, its projects and attitudes, it is possible to be long and encourage the users to deepen their knowledge. As for DEM campaigns, synthesis is all — getting to the point in a short time is essential. For this reason, there is a more in-depth study of the UX and an important use of catchy CTAs that induce the user to perform actions and interact with the content.
  • Design: the visual aspect should not be overlooked, and a neat design is really important. All of your content needs to be coordinated with your brand identity to look not only great, but official and so trustworthy.

When to communicate

The calendar of your mailings, especially in relation to your DEM, will depend on the habits of your users. There is no perfect recipe, every sector is different and only through the analysis of your data you will understand how it is best to proceed. After a first exploratory phase that will allow you to collect data on the number of openings of your DEM, clicks, and on the best performing times, you will be able to define the best days and times for your mailings.

However, do not forget the essential phases and days for any eCommerce owner: sales, Black Friday, Christmas and, why not, the birthday of your users.

Email Marketing Automation

This is undoubtedly the most important step for anyone involved in Email Marketing. Getting to automate the sending process marks the transition from beginner to pro level! It is essential to be able to correctly segment your contact lists based on your marketing needs. Attributes such as age, gender, or nationality could be useful to structure a promotional campaign, or the analysis of your eCommerce site attendance habits could lead you to create email reminders related to abandoned carts. Analyzing your email open rates could help you understand who your loyal fans are. Once you’ve created your audience segments and further defined them through the creation of “conditions”, such as “users who have opened the last two campaigns”, you’ll be able to activate automatic sending processes that are increasingly effective and efficient.

In this regard, we must mention the work by Francesco Chiappini, who pays particular attention precisely to the automation of online store flows, for the creation of effective systems that generate leads and sales (F. Chiappini, Marketing Automation per E-Commerce, Flaccovio Editore, 2018).

Email Marketing Examples


Gucci sends its users a great number of communications. This is a DEM on the occasion of Father’s Day. The first products to be promoted are therefore men’s accessories and the new men’s fragrance. Perfect items for a gift.


Milkshake is a mobile App that makes it possible to create mini sites to be associated with Instagram. It is very fresh and young. In this case, we selected the email that the users receive as soon as they download the App, in which they are welcomed, and the customer service contact is given. It’s a very short email, but it is characterized by a well-defined Tone of Voice and content in line with the brand identity.


DAZN sends its subscribers the report of what will be aired for the weekend. All content is managed within the brand’s corporate image and the user is prompted through repeated CTAs to access the App to view programs and insights.

  • THE GOOD TRADE Newsletter

The Daily Good is the newsletter by The Good Trade, which is a portal that deals with women’s health and wellness. It’s a newsletter that always applies the same structure, with editorial parts and tips about interesting external content, always of high quality and in line with the brand identity, as well as the Tone of Voice. 

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