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  • Writer's pictureAlex Ford

Email Metrics to Focus on in 2022

Apple rolled out its privacy protection at the end of the year and the impact has already been noticed. As we start the New Year with increases in the adoption of these settings, it’s important to know not just how much of an impact it will have on data and the way we use it, but also a few ways we’ve been able to pivot and use different metrics to maintain performance.

Opens have always been a major performance metric when it comes to checking the pulse of engagement. Honestly, it’s never been a perfect science. Think about it - have you ever opened an email without reading it? When I’m in my email and I delete a message I’ve read, my MBP actually opens the next message for me; oftentimes I immediately click out or just delete it depending on where it came from.

So instead, let’s gauge performance and engagement through a few positive metrics that you’re probably already aware of… and a few negative ones that maybe you aren’t.

Positive Metrics


Clicks are a great way to gauge how engaged your audience is with the content you’re sending. Unfortunately, click rates tend to be about 10x lower than opens so the data can be somewhat discouraging. If you’re segmenting your audience based on activity, clicks may not be the ideal criteria since they’ll produce a much smaller pool. However, clicks are much more closely aligned with success in making profit and will really show your most qualified prospects. You really have to think about your specific goals and get creative.


Even more of a narrowing scope, conversions prove true success. While you may not want to use them for segmenting, this metric is arguably the most reliable in testing content because it shows that the content was intriguing enough to click on, and then valuable enough to convert. Using this data in tandem with your clicks will give you a good idea about how performance is looking and where changes should be made.

Negative Metrics


Keeping an eye on unsubscribe rates has always been a good practice. But now, it can also serve as a valuable pulse point on deliverability. Of course you don’t want a high unsubscribe rate - that means people don’t want your content. BUT if you’re suddenly getting fewer unsubscribes than usual, it could be a sign that your messages aren’t inboxing. Think about it - to unsubscribe, a person must open the email to get to the unsubscribe link… and to open the email they must first receive it in their inbox. Since opens are unreliable, seeing fewer people opting out could be a sign that they aren’t seeing your messages and you can reassess your strategies.

Spam Complaints

With inflated open rates, your best efforts to filter out highly unengaged people may be thwarted. It’s pretty common to segment based on opens; for example your main broadcast segment may be subscribers who have opened a message in the past X days. The idea is to filter out those who aren’t engaging with your messages within that number of days, but with the “false” opens, these segments become less impactful. You may be missing out on opportunities for re-engagement strategies, or worse, digging yourself into a hole of deliverability issues. Even if they aren’t opening and manually reporting you as spam, MBPs may start flagging you as such themselves. This makes actual spam complaints more worrisome, so you’ll want to pay close attention to how many you receive on your messages. Removing the reporters from your lists will be helpful, but you may also want to take a look at the message and see if there is any room for edits if you plan to use it again.

A New Year brings both new opportunities and challenges. When deciding how to tackle new obstacles, always consider what your primary goal is and work back from there. Does knowing the amount of opens actually matter or would something else suffice (or be even better)? How can you best drive that particular action? The obfuscation of data certainly won’t be slowing down anytime soon, so you must always be ready with a backup plan to pivot your strategies without losses.


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