4 KPIs for Measuring Email List Growth

List-AdEmail list growth is the foundation of email marketing program. Unless you keep care in protecting and growing that list you will end up non functional email marketing program. Recently, I wrote a post on 23 Metrics for Email Marketing Metrics that you should know about, in this post I am taking 3 metrics from that list and adding one more to call out the 4 KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to measure the email list growth.  Here are the four KPIs:

  1. Email Complaint Rate/Spam Complaint Rate – SPAM complaints can kill your marketing program. This KPIs allows you to see if SPAM complains are becoming an issues, you goal should be to minimize this KPI. Spam complaint rate is measures as the percentage of your email recipients who marked your emails as Spam. Looking at this number campaign by campaign and then aggregated over month will show you if you are annoying your subscribers to a point where they consider your email as spam. This number is readily available in most of the ESP.
  2. Subscribe Rate – This KPI measure the effectiveness of your marketing/content in driving new email subscribers.  Your goal should be to increase this KPI. Subscribe rate is expressed as a percentage and is calculated as New Subscribers divided by visitors who are not already in your list. Most of the Web Analytics tools will provide you this number by tracking the completion of emails subscription page as a goal/conversion. These tools use the total goal conversions divided by total visitors on the site during the specified period to calculate the conversion rate (Subscribe Rate). The default conversion rate calculation by web analytics tool will also count anybody who has already subscribed to your list thus inflating the denominator. In most cases the default calculation will suffice but if you do want to get accurate numbers then you will have to setup your web analytics tool to not count people who are already subscribed.
  3. Unsubscribe Rate – Is the percentage of your emails recipients (subscribers) who chose to unsubscribe from your future mailings. Unsubscribe Rate is calculated as number of unsubscribes divided by email delivered and is expressed as a percentage. It measures the effectiveness of your email marketing strategy and the quality/relevance of your email marketing. If this number continues to rise, you have a problem that should be immediately fixed. The fixes range from adjusting the email frequency to increasing the relevance of the message.
  4. List Growth Rate – This is ultimately the one metric that everything else boils down to. If you have to only show one metric on your dashboard or optimize for one metrics then use this one as it is calculated using the other three that I have listed above.  This KPI measures how fast your email list is growing, it is the net results of new subscribers minus the unsubscribes (including hard bounces) and email/spam complaints. It is calculated as, Growth (new subscribers ) – Loss(unsubscribes + email complaints) divided by total list size of your email list. Your email marketing program depends on List Growth so watch this number closely and take actions to actively grow your email list.

Questions? Comments?

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Here are few more email marketing posts that you will like:

  1. 23 Email Marketing Metrics That You Should Know
    This post lists all the email marketing metrics that you will ever need.
  2. One costly email mistake that you can easily fix
    Growing email list is a hard job. All you Growth hacking goes down the drain when you make a simple mistakes that costs you subscribers that you just gained. This posts you one such mistake and how to fix it.
  3. Email Personalization Not Working? Read This
    This posts explains why the email personalization might not work. The bottom line is that you have update your personalization criteria over time and test it.
  4. 3 Techniques for Expanding your Email Reach
    Email marketers are facing a tough time with growing emails remaining unopened and unsubscribes. Acquiring new subscribers using old techniques is expensive. In this post I have listed 3 techniques that you can use to spread the word of your emails/newsletters beyond the email list that you are sending the emails to.
  5. Are You Depleting Your Email List?
    Email marketers, in order to maximize short term conversions, often bombard irrelevant emails in subscribers inbox However this short term mentality results in erosion of long term viability of their email marketing, due to increase in unsubscribes causing depletion of email lists.
  6. 15 Things to Test in your Email Campaign
    This post talks about 15 things you can test today.
  7. Targeting Cart Abandonment by Email
    Targeting Cart Abandonment is a great way to drive conversions however, use incentives/offers cautiously.
  8. Conversion Tip: Making the Most of the Email Confirmation Thank you Page
    Use your Confirmation page effectively, this posts shows an example of a good page and a not so good page.
  9. Number One Email Marketing Mistake
    Number one mistake marketers make with email marketing is to send “Irrelevant” messages to their customers. Find out why this strategy has a far-reaching impact on your email marketing program.
  10. 7 Ways to Create Relevancy in Emails
    7 tried and tested ways of creating relevancy in emails are described in this post.
  11. Relevancy Matters in Email Marketing
    This post shows an example of an email that missed the opportunity to convert.

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One costly email mistake that you can easily fix

Are you loosing your email subscribers right after they are signing up? If yes then you might be making a similar mistake that I encountered recently. Here is what happened to me:

I submitted my info on coolinfographics.com to download a free chapter of the book. After I filled the form, I got a message that I will get an email with a link to the download.  I eagerly waited for the email to arrive. As soon as I got the email, I opened it and quickly clicked on a very prominent and long link. I was expecting to see a page where I will either be able to download the chapter or my download will automatically start. Instead I got the following message:

unsubscribe-1

What???? What just happened?

Turns out that the long prominent link in this email was not the link to download the sample chapter, instead it was an Unsubscribe link.  So I accidentally unsubscribed from the mailing list I subscribed only few minutes ago.  I am sure, I am not the only one who has done that. I wonder how many subscribers is this site is losing due the design of this email?

unsubscribe-2

Here are two mistakes in this email

  1. The unsubscribe link is bigger and more prominent than the actual download link (main Call to Action).  My eyes directly went to the long link and without even thinking twice, I clicked on it.
  2. Transactional Emails do not require you to have an unsubscribe link (See http://www.spamresource.com/2009/12/is-unsubscribe-link-required.html). Since this is a transactional email so you don’t need give an option to unsubscribe.  You can argue that it is a best practice to provide an Unsubscribe link. Sure if you want to provide an option then make it a small in font and length.

Fixing the problem:

Simple solution is to remove the attention from Unsubscribe link and make the main Call to Action (Link to Download) stand out, see below for a revised version:

 unsubscribe-3What do you think? Questions? Comments?

BTW: If you are interested in data visualization then go ahead and check the sample chapter or buy the Cool Infographics: Effective Communication with Data Visualization and Design at Amazon.