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Conversions: The most important email marketing metric ever

When evaluating the success of an email marketing strategy, there is a lot to consider.


Measuring a campaign’s click rate can give us a solid evaluation of how effectively our subject lines, layouts, designs and call-to-actions are performing, but, at the end of the day, how much do those things matter, really?

What do clicks really add up to, when you think about it? Or, more importantly, what do they add up to in the eyes of the people who sign our paycheques?

A big fat nuthin’, that’s what.

A campaign with a high open rate or click rate sounds impressive, and we email marketers know that these metrics represent countless hours of work and expertise as well as countless obstacles overcome, but we must always remember that the true purpose of those hours is not simply to make people like our emails.

The true purpose of our efforts is to convert. The email marketer who produces high open and click rates but few conversions is like the salesman who gets great customer reviews but doesn’t close sales, and who actually wants to employ one of those?

No, to really present a solid case that our email marketing efforts are truly laudable, we must present a more tangible metric for success. Something quantifiable that demonstrates that our marketing emails are actually achieving the goals set by the people who hired us.

We must measure our conversions.

Conversions: The most important email marketing metric ever

What it is:

Conversions can come in several forms, and the specific form each one takes is dependent on the original goal of the campaign. The key in completing a conversion via a marketing email is that the email’s recipient takes some form of action considered desirable by the sender. For example, an email marketing campaign may be sent out to:

  • acquire new mailing list members for a newsletter
  • sell merchandise
  • get someone to use a discount coupon at a restaurant

Only those recipients who did the thing we were hoping they would do can be considered “conversions”.

Calculating conversions is simple: how many people who were sent a marketing email wound up taking the desirable action which the email was originally sent to get them to take?

What it tells us:

Measuring our conversions does not give us any specifics on exactly which parts of our email campaign are working or not working. For that kind of data, we must look deeper into email marketing’s lesser success metrics.

What measuring our conversions can tell us, however, is how well our approach is working overall when it comes to achieving the campaign’s desired result.

A high rate of conversions for an email marketing campaign is a reflection of the value of the sum total of all the individual parts of that campaign, from subject line to call-to-action. What this metric provides us is insight into exactly how well we are doing overall, so that we may present this data as evidence of the effectiveness of our approach or as evidence of why our approach may need to be re-evaluated.

If a campaign converts recipients, it is awesome. If it doesn’t convert recipients, it isn’t. For those who like to keep things simple, it doesn’t get much better than that.

Not convinced? Maybe you’d prefer: Click rate: the most important email marketing metric ever!

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