Transcript: How Healthy Is Your Email List? Four Metrics to Track

June 29, 2020

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AMY PORTERFIELD: “You know my story. When I was just starting out, I was anything but consistent. I would release a podcast every now and then, maybe send an email to my list. Nothing on the regular. However, when I started showing up and emailing consistently, that's when I saw not only my email list grow, but all of my metrics improve as well. If you want your metrics to improve, show up consistently. This will allow you to nurture your audience and build relationships, and they'll start to expect your emails, and when you have emails that serve and cater to their needs, they're going to want to open them. Plus, when the time comes to make an ask, an offer—maybe you're launching your digital course. I hope you are. Or you're selling a service—they'll be more likely to take you up on it; in turn, boosting your conversion rate. So you've got to show up consistently.”

INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-million-dollar business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, money, and time to focus on growing my small-but-mighty business. Fast forward past many failed attempts and lessons learned, and you'll see the business I have today, one that changes lives and gives me more freedom than I ever thought possible, one that used to only exist as a daydream. I created the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast to give you simple, actionable, step-by-step strategies to help you do the same. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur, or one in the making, who's looking to create a business that makes an impact and helps you create a life you love, you're in the right place. Let's get started.


AMY:  Email marketing and email metrics. While an outsider might not understand why this topic would be so riveting and insightful, my insiders, my online marketers and entrepreneurs, including you, know exactly just how important these two topics are. However, that doesn't mean that you actually understand what metrics you should be tracking and paying attention to. And that's why today we're going to talk about four email-marketing metrics that you, as an online entrepreneur, must pay attention to.

Now, email metrics are the numbers pulled from the emails that you send to your audience to help you gauge what's working and what's not. Almost all email-service providers, or ESPs, offer complimentary metrics. So the good news is that if you have an ESP and if you send out an email broadcast to your list of subscribers, you'll be able to check out the metrics that we're going to talk about today.

So what exactly are those four must-have metrics? One, email-open rate. Two, click-through rate. Three, conversion rate. And four, unsubscribe rate. I'm also going to give you some best practices to consider implementing to boost your metrics and ensure that your email list is healthy and continually growing, because after all, the energy of your online business is directly aligned with the strength of your email list. Do I need to say it one more time? The energy of your online business is directly aligned with the strength of your email list. So here we go.

Okay, so the first metric you're going to start paying attention to is your open rate. This is the percentage of people who open your email. It's really that simple. When it comes to your email-open rate, every industry is vastly different. So, for example, as of early 2020, the marketing industry has an average of 19.3 percent. However, government has an average of 30.5 percent, which clearly is significantly higher than my industry. Now, even though my industry is 19.3 percent, because I've been doing this for some time now, we aim for a 25 percent open rate in the business. Now, I suggest that you shoot for something close to your industry average before trying to get a higher percentage. Once you consistently hit the average open rate, play around and start to up your goal from there.

Now, it's important to understand what your industry open rate is so that you don't feel discouraged. I’m going to link you to an article by Campaign Monitor in the show notes, which gives you average open rates by industry. So head to to check out that article.

Now, one thing that's important to know about the open rate is that it includes only recipients who also allow images within the email to be downloaded. Here's the catch. Many people actually have image blocking enabled, especially on their phone, which is where most people open their emails, leaving a good chunk of recipients who may have opened your email out of the final stats. So what to do about this? In my business, we do track the metric, but what we like to do with it—and I suggest you do the same—is compare your open-rate metrics to previous weeks’ emails to ensure that they're not declining and to take note of any variables or changes that might be happening.

Let me give you a few ways to improve your open rate. Play around with enticing subject lines. And I get it: subject lines can be tricky. So here’s a little tip I learned from Marie Forleo in her program Copy Cure. Make a long list of possible subject lines. And I'm talking, like, ten to fifteen or even more if you're feeling a little wild. What you'll find is that your first ones are not usually your best. Narrow it down to your top two choices, and then A/B test them with your audience. Now, if you're just starting out, don't worry too much about A/B testing right now. Just focus on getting out consistent content and sending your newsletter out every single week. Now, for those of you who are more advanced, you should be testing. Testing is so important to find out what your audience responds best to. So your open rate will help you identify this.

The next tip I have for you is to be mindful that you want to stay out of the online gutter, which is the spam folders. Now, you can do this by avoiding all caps in the subject line, as well as avoiding words like free or sale or rich or deal in your subject lines as well. And also, when you include links in your email, as you will because you're linking to your blog or your podcast or whatever it might be, avoid putting too many links. Just use a few throughout your email. Also, do a little research and testing—there's that T word again—to identify what time of day and what day of the week is best to send your weekly email. So this is important, and you just got to play around with it. Also, your ESP, your email-service provider, should provide you with peak open times according to your subscribers. You can do a quick industry search online to get more information here. Or if you have a Facebook group, ask your audience what time they generally check their inbox. You can do this by using a poll, and you can get some really great intel.

Okay, so next, let's take a look at the second must-know metric, your click-through rate. This one is pretty simple. It's the percentage of people who not only opened your email, but also took action, such as clicking one or more of the links provided in your email. For example, each Thursday we send out an email about my newest Online Marketing Made Easy podcast episode. Within the email, we include at least two links to get the recipients to click through to listen to that week's episode. That percentage of people who do click the links, that forms the click-through rate.

Now, this metric can tell you a lot about the health of your email list. It can give you insight into if your audience is engaged and interested in what you have to offer, whether it be free or paid, and if you’re using the right language to entice them to click on your call to action. So this is another main metric that my marketing team likes to pay close attention to. Our goal is 2 percent. But again, you'll want to set your goal around something that makes sense for your industry. I know, 2 percent sounds crazy low, right? It just is what it is.

So to give you some examples, advertising and marketing is around 2.6 percent. Education is about 3 percent. Financial services, around 2.5 percent. And travel, hospitality, and leisure is 1.6 percent.

Let me give you a few quick ideas to up your click-through rate. You want to make sure that you only have one call to action, a CTA, per email. Now, I know you have a lot to offer and you want to tell your audience to go check this out and read this and watch this. But when you send an email, there is only one thing you want them to do. And studies show that if people have too many choices in an email, they won't choose at all. So what you want to do is make sure that if you want them to go read your blog, that's the call to action, and you mention it a few times throughout the email. If you want them to go listen to your podcast, that's the only thing you're having them do in the email. If you want them to sign up for your webinar, the only link in that is to go register for the webinar. You might mention it two times throughout the email, but that's the only thing you're telling them to do.

Now, there are a few exceptions to this rule and just know it's very rare you'd want to make an exception. The times where we make the exception is if we have a bonus episode. So we actually send an email out every Thursday for the podcast, and we send a re-send email to all of those who didn't open the first email. And in that email, sometimes over the weekend, sometimes on Monday, if there was a bonus episode that week, we might mention it in the P.S.. So the bulk of the email is about the current episode that went live. The P.S. might be, “And hey, by the way, we had an extra episode go live this week. If this topic piques your interest, go check that one out first.” Kind of something like that. But it's very rare that we do this.

Okay, one more tip to help you out with your click-through rate. I want you to consider the power of a P.S., which is what I just mentioned, that I use in the bonus episode emails. Many email marketers, including me, believe that the beginning and the end of an email are the most important, which is why you want to add a punchy P.S. section. So take whatever call to action you offered earlier in the email and link to it one more time in the P.S. section. And this is in an effort to get your click-through rate up.

So for more information and guidance on the power of a P.S., I did an entire episode that was really popular about this topic. So if you're going to use P.S.s in your emails, which I hope you do, especially your promo emails, go check out episode 229. So And I'll also link to it in the show notes for this episode. It will really help you get those click-through rates up and just get more eyeballs on what you want your audience to see.

Now let’s get clear on the third important metric, the conversion rate. Ooh, I love this one. So this metric is super important, especially when you're in a launch. This is the percentage of people who clicked through in your email and then took action on the request or offer that you presented them. In other words, they signed up for your webinar. That would be one form of a conversion. Or they bought your product. That's another form of a conversion. Getting the conversion, whether it's buying from you or registering for one of your webinars or some other free offer that you put in front of them, it's important because it helps you gauge how interested your audience is when you're putting offers out there. And when you move into launching, which I know you will, conversions are ultimately what pay the bills.

Now, as always, you want to make sure you have a nice balance in your emails, and you send a mix of value-add emails where you're just offering relevant and useful tips and sharing your knowledge, and then, of course, inviting action, such as registering for your webinar or buying your product. The mix of regular value-add emails is really important because it helps your audience feel comfortable and compelled. They don't have walls up like, “Oh, there she goes. She's promoting again. Oh, she's promoting again.” When you have that nice mix, they just ease into your emails. They come to expect them, and it really builds up that know, like, and trust factor when you're continuously adding value.

Make no mistake that the marketers that you love to follow, those that send you an email every single week, saying, “Hey, I've got a new video app, or I have a new podcast episode, or check out my blog,” that is a strategy because they're making sure that they nurture the relationship before they sell. I always say you got to work for it as a marketer. I earn my right to sell and promote because I give so much immense free value when I'm not promoting.

Now, I want to point something out. If you are a student in DCA, you know that I don't suggest you send a bunch of emails directly to your sales page. So from the email, link to the sales page; it's not my style. I don’t think it converts well. Now, all my DCA students know this, but those of you not in Digital Course Academy®️, I'll tell you why. When you are promoting a product, service, coaching program, digital course, whatever it might be, you're going to increase your conversions if you first send people to a webinar where you add immense value, you teach them something. And my motto on webinars is always, no matter if they buy or not, they walk away today feeling inspired, excited, and driven to take action, no matter if they buy or not. With that kind of mindset on a webinar, I give my all. I give everything. I leave nothing on the table. That way, if somebody buys, then great. But if they don't, they know that I still gave them great value, and I'm increasing my know, like, and trust factor with them, so next time I promote, they're more likely to buy.

Now I tell you this because I'm not a huge fan of writing up emails and sending directly to a sales page, especially for a digital course. In my case, that's $2,000. So the webinar educates. It informs, it inspires first, and that step between the email and the sales page and making it a webinar is a really smart move. It increases the conversions.

Now, but those of you in DCA also know that I teach something called the sales-booster emails. Once all your webinars are done, you filled them up, you did your webinars, you've got a few days left before you close the cart, and in those few days, you could send out a few emails to anybody on your email list that didn't sign up for a webinar, meaning they don't know about the course. So in that case, if they didn't sign up for a webinar—maybe they just don't want to get on a webinar. Shocker. Some people don't. I don't understand those people, but some people don't—so you can send out an email a few days before your cart close, after all your webinars are done, and say, “Hey, want to let you know about this really exciting opportunity. Here’s what it’s all about.” You tell them about it in the email, and you send them directly to the sales page. And you can do this with a few emails before the cart closes.

Now, you can track that conversion, and you will find, most likely, that the conversion will be smaller, that percentage will be smaller, versus if you got them on a webinar first and then you sold them into your course. You're going to see higher conversions, webinar first versus email directly to a sales page. So that was a total tangent. Just a little nugget of great information that you'll likely want to know if you're not in Digital Course Academy®️. That's the kind of stuff I teach because I'm all about getting your conversions up.

So now, let's just say you did the sales-booster email, and you want to track the conversion rate of those that click on a link in the email, land on your sales page, and buy. So you’ll need to do some integration between your email-service provider and your sales page. Or even if you wanted to track the conversion of a webinar registration, you would do integration between your email-service provider and your webinar registration page so that you can track the percentage of people who clicked on the link and actually took the action you want them to take.

Now, there are tons of tutorials out there for free that can help you navigate this integration and simplify all the tech setup. But don't let the tech trip you up. We are entrepreneurs. We've got to learn this stuff. And believe me, if this non-techie girl can learn it, you can learn it, too. So if you just sit down, get clear on what you want to track, you can always find how-to videos to teach you to do it, especially if you stick with my motto that you don't need a lot of bells and whistles and you're just going to keep it really simple. You can do this, my friend.

Now, you probably expected this, but once again, conversion rates vary by industry. So some examples include beauty and health is around 7.01 percent. Internet marketing is around 6.17 percent. Education, 8.4 percent. And arts and entertainment, you lucky ducks, are at 8.95 percent. Now, I'm always hesitant to give these percentages because there are some really smart online-marketing experts out there that say shoot for 1 percent conversion. That's very different than the 6.17 percent I told you about with Internet marketing.

This is what I like to do, and I really—if you're multitasking, come back to me. This is something that's going to help you on your journey of building your business and really tracking what's important. My favorite thing to do, I don't look at any industry standards. I never pay attention to them. I'm using them here because I know you want them, and you want me to share this with you. And in the show notes, of course, I'm going to link to an article with even more conversion rates, if that's your thing and you really want to just know them. I get it. I get the interest.

But here's my advice to you, and I think this is so important for you to hear. What I want you to do is just start tracking what yours looks like right now. What does your conversion rate look like from, let's say, an email to people registering for your webinar, or if you've ever done email to a sales page, what does that conversion look like? And you can dig in and you can find the metrics. You've got them; you just don't know where to find them yet. You've got to dig in and figure that out. But what does it look like now? Or if you've never done any of this, the next time you do it, the first time you do it, track it. And just open up a simple spreadsheet, like a Google Doc. Open up a spreadsheet and start writing it down, just tracking it. And the next time you do it, you aim to get a little bit higher.

This is literally how we do it in my business. If I can tell you I have a multi-million-dollar business, not worrying about industry standards of conversion rates or click-through rates or anything, I just started with looking at my number. And my motto is always—gosh, I've got so many mottos in this episode—is always just to make it better. We put our blinders on. We look at our own stuff, and we say, how can we make this better? I have no idea what Marie Forleo is doing or Michael Hyatt or any of the people that I admire the most. I don't know what their conversion rates are. I know what mine are, and I'm always looking to make them better, because the difference between 1 percent and 2 percent of conversions could be hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the amount of people that you're actually sending the email to. And so that’s why it’s just like stay in your own lane. Put your blinders on. Look at your numbers—there's your benchmark. Now let's make it better. I always want to make it better. Like, I'm always striving to be better, but in my own world. You stay in your world. I'll stay in my world. Let's not worry about what everyone else is doing. Let's get our numbers to increase. Deal? Makes everything easier, I promise.

All right. Let's keep moving on.

I want to share some ways to improve your conversion rate, because now that you're staying in your own lane, you just want to get better with your numbers. I don't know about you, but I tend to check my email more on my phone than I do on my computer. And most people do this. So since we know this, it's important to be creating email broadcasts that are mobile friendly. You can do this by having shorter subject lines, breaking up text in your email to make sure there's plenty of white space, making your links easy to see and read, and keeping the file size of your images smaller so they take less time to load.

Another strategy, which should come as no surprise to you, is to be showing up consistently. You know what I suggest. Every single week, you want to be in your subscribers’ inbox. “Hey, I've got a new podcast. Hey, I've got a new video blog,” whatever it might be. Every week, rain or shine. In fact, you know my story. When I was just starting out, I was anything but consistent. I would release a podcast every now and then, maybe send an email to my list. Nothing on the regular. However, when I started showing up and emailing consistently, that's when I saw not only my email list grow, but all of my metrics improve as well. If you want your metrics to improve, show up consistently. This will allow you to nurture your audience and build relationships, and they'll start to expect your emails, and when you have emails that serve and cater to their needs, they're going to want to open them. Plus, when the time comes for you to make an offer—maybe you're launching a digital course. I hope you are. Or you're selling a service or a coaching package—then if you are showing up consistently, if you’re doing your thing week in and week out, and you become their go-to source, they are much more likely to buy from you. And this is how you increase your conversion rates.

All right. Let’s move on. One last metric, the fourth metric, the dreaded unsubscribe rate. Yes, just as you would imagine, this is the percentage of people who unsubscribe from your email list after you send them an email. All of my new students, especially those that are in List Builders Society®️, learning how to list build from scratch, they are very consumed with the unsubscribe rate. And truth be told, this is a number I never even think about. Now, I shouldn't say that. Once in a while I'll check in on this number, but it's not a focus at all.

So here's the truth. Keeping an eye on this number, this metric, it will ensure that you're not hemorrhaging your subscribers, which might hint, if you are, that you're not getting the right kind of people on your list, or you're not sending the right type of content that really resonates with them. So, yeah, you want to know that when you send an email, tons of people aren't jumping off your email list. However, you will always have unsubscribes. Every single email you send, you will get unsubscribes. Most industry averages fall between 0.2 and 0.3 percent, but you know how I feel about those industry averages.

But here's what I want you to keep in mind. If you've got 1,000 subscribers on your list, you send an email, and 200 of them unsubscribe, that might be something to check out. If you've got a list of a million people and 200 unsubscribes, it doesn't even matter. It's going to happen. And every unsubscribe that I get, I usually just think, well, they were not a good fit. And funny enough, if you really think about it, the more people you add to your email-service provider, the higher cost for you. So as your list grows, you're going to be paying your email-service provider more money. So if someone's not right for your list, see ya, boo. Get them to jump off. Great. If you stay really clear on who you serve, and you just stay in your lane, creating the type of content that you know your ideal-customer avatar needs, when people jump off, you can feel confident that they were not right for you. So that’s okay. That’s a good thing.

I've talked about this on the podcast before. But I wanted to add this metric because, yeah, let's say once a quarter, you look at your unsubscribe rate, and you—well, what would be great is if you look on it, look at it now. So look at it now. And you could look at it in terms of, let's say by quarter or by month, if you're sending weekly emails. Just see what it is now. No judgment. We do not judge ourselves as we build our businesses. We just want data. Look at it, and then, be mindful of attracting the right people, putting the right content out, being consistent. Hey, I'll promise you this right now. Are you ready for this little gem of information I'm going to give you? I sound so arrogant when I say that, but you know what I mean. If you send me an email today, and I don't hear from you for another three months, and you send me an email three months from now, I will unsubscribe. When I get a random email in my inbox that I haven't heard from that marketer in months, just like, “What? This is super random,” especially if they're trying to get me like on a webinar or to buy something, I’m like, “See ya.” So if you don't want unsubscribes, show up in the inbox every single week.

I've had students say to me, “But Amy, I started emailing every single week, and I keep getting unsubscribes, unsubscribes.” Of course you do, because you’re pruning your list. You hadn't done that before. Let it all kind of smooth out. Give it a good three months. Keep growing the list. Keep showing up in the list every single week. That's going to smooth out. But if you haven't been emailing consistently, yeah, you're going to get unsubscribes, just like I said. So that’s okay.

Let's just look at the numbers each quarter, in terms of unsubscribe, versus being obsessed with them each email. And like I said, if you see a big spike, well, then, reevaluate. Look at who you're attracting. Look at the kind of content you are sending. That typically, those are the two factors I would look at. And then making sure you're actually sending an email every single week. So this is the least important metric out of all four, but I knew you'd be thinking about it. I knew you'd ask about it. So I like to address things that are on your mind, but it's not one I'm super concerned about. You, too. Deal? Like, let's make sure we keep this one in perspective.

All right. Let’s wrap this up.

Now, there are more metrics that you can track and pay attention to, but these four are the ones I suggest you start consistently tracking to make sure your email list stays healthy. Remember, stay in your own lane. Put your blinders on. Find your benchmark. Strive to improve, and track it in a simple Google sheet so that you have all the information in one place. Again, pay attention to your open rate, click-through rate, conversion rate, and your unsubscribe rate. If you take note of these and use the strategies I mentioned to improve each metric, you should start to see the health of your email list improve over time. Notice I did not say overnight. Be patient, my friend.

All right. Thanks so much for joining me. If you want to continue this conversation, head on over to the free Online Marketing Made Easy Facebook group. See you next week, same time, same place. Bye for now.

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