5 email metrics to better understand your audience

The great thing about email marketing is the ability to see who has opened your email, the exact time they opened it and what link(s) they clicked on. By understanding basic email stats you will find better ways to communicate with your customers, leading to more business and increased brand recognition.


Here’s why you need to monitor basic email stats:

  • Ensure your audience is still engaged in the content you provide
  • Better understand what content your audience wants to receive
  • Learn more about your audience and what drives them to respond
  • Save time and resources by potentially reducing your email volume if your audience doesn’t read them
  • Increase your conversion numbers by identifying warmer leads from an email
  • Build stronger relationships with your audience by increasing your email engagement by providing content-rich information
  • Set targets to improve your email performance month-on-month, or compare your email metrics against industry benchmarks

For those eager to improve their email marketing performance, let’s kick on and discover whether your target audience actually reads your emails…

1. Open rate

An open rate, measured as a percentage, is how many recipients opened your email. Unfortunately, getting an accurate open rate can often be difficult to achieve, depending on the different email clients your readers use (i.e. Outlook, Hotmail, Yahoo, Apple Mail, Gmail). For example, Microsoft Outlook allows a person to view the entire email in their preview screen without your email provider acknowledging this is an opened email. Though if the reader downloads the images from within the preview screen, this becomes an open, in addition, if the reader clicks on a link within the preview screen, the email will mark this as both one unique open, and one unique click.

The most common question about open rates is “What’s a good open rate?” The answer will generally depend on your industry benchmark. A great place to start is looking at email metric whitepapers. Be sure to download a few, as relying on only one can lead to skewed results. Also, pay close attention to the sender volume. If you have 50,000+ in your list, and the whitepaper only uses volumes up to 10,000, this may not provide an accurate comparison. For free whitepapers check out Vision6 or Salesforceor ask your own email provider if they have their own.

Handy tip: As a general rule of thumb, the larger your marketing list, the lower your email open rate will be. For example, achieving an open rate of 30% from sending to 100 people is not as strong as sending to 5,000 people and achieving an open rate of 25%. 

Throughout this blog I will include industry average charts from Vision6’s latest metrics report – grab the report here.

Open rate benchmarks
Real Estate & Property industry benchmark vs. Overall averages

2. Click through rate (CTR)

The click through rate (CTR), measured as a percentage, is how many recipients opened your email, and clicked on a link within your email.

And just to be clear, a true CTR should be measured as the first time a link is clicked by a recipient out of the total number of emails that were sent i.e. ‘clicks/send volume’, not ‘clicks/opens’. For example, if 15 people clicked on a link out of a total send volume or 100 people, you’ve achieved a 15% CTR.

Some people question whether an open rate is more important than the CTR. This really depends on your strategy and what you want to get out of your email communication. If you’re simply providing information with no strong call to action then perhaps the open rate is the most relevant metric. Alternatively, if your call to action is to ‘read more’ on a product or to ‘sign up / register’, then the CTR should be a stronger metric for email performance results and success targets.

So what’s a good click-through rate? Once again it depends on your industry. Any whitepaper with open rate industry benchmark averages will also have the CTR averages.

Click through rate benchmarks
Real Estate & Property industry benchmark vs. Overall averages

3. Unsubscribe rate

This metric is often overlooked by many businesses, which is a concern because your unsubscribe rate can provide you with a great deal of insight, sometimes more than your open rate or click through rate. Oh, and if you’re sending an email every day, stop it, unless you’re a daily deals website. Always try to limit the frequency of sends; because once a reader unsubscribes from your list, it becomes very difficult to invite them back.

Here are a few examples…

  1. If you have a high open rate as well as a high unsubscribe rate, this may indicate that your subject line is misleading or not relevant to the content and message. Take note of this and revise.
  2. If your unsubscribe numbers are increasing over time, then perhaps you’re emailing too frequently, or your emails are not focused on providing your reader with relevant information. If this correlation continues to decline then need to revise your email strategy.
  3. Delve deeper and look at those people that have unsubscribed to your email(s). If they are the direct audience that you can’t afford to lose, then try to understand why this happened by going over the content, subject line and call to action.

Handy tip: Incorporate your unsubscribe numbers in the same chart graph as your open rate and click through rate. If your open rate and click through rate are trending downwards, while unsubscribes are trending upwards… then stop, revive and survive!

4. Bounce rate

A bounce rate is the percentage of email addresses that failed to receive the email message you sent because the message was returned by the mailer server or client. These are split into two groups:

  1. Hard bounce – This indicates that the email address is invalid. It’s important to export these hard bounces and go through them, sometimes it may be due to a simple typing error such as [email protected] instead of [email protected]. A simple update will add one more reader to your database!
  2. Soft bounce – This is more of a temporary issue, often the result of the email client’s inbox being at full capacity, or the client’s email server may be blocking your email as it may perceive your IP sender address as spam.

It’s important to look at your bounces as this can affect your overall email open rate and click through rate percentages. Thus, not a true reflection of your email performance and engagement.

If your hard bounce rate is high, this is cause for concern. Perhaps look at where these email addresses are being collected. Most businesses receive large hard bounce numbers from providing a ‘give-to-get’ scenario where the visitor is asked to provide their email in exchange for a free report or article. If so, change the automation whereby the visitor receives the free report via the very same email address they use when submitting. Lastly, if you have a higher rate of hard bounces from your prospecting list, this is to be expected. You can’t assume to know your prospects as closely as your existing clients – just be sure to remove these from your database.

Bounce rate benchmarks
Real Estate & Property industry benchmark vs. Overall averages

5. Unique versus Total stats

Unique versus Total stats is a great indicator of how widely popular your email has been, to your direct readers, as well as your reader’s own network of friends, family or colleagues.

A unique open is derived from an individual who received your email, opening that email. However, if that individual returns to their inbox to re-open that very same email, that then transpires in to the Total Open metric. This would be 1 unique open and 2 total opens. The same applies for clicks. The total open / total click can suggest a number of things:

  1. The reader has opened your email multiple times
  2. The reader has forwarded your email on to another person(s), who has then opened the email
  3. The person that received the forwarded email has also forwarded it to more people (and so on)

If your total opens / clicks are high,  this is noteworthy, and should be included in any email marketing reports along with the open rate, click through rate etc.

Note: Be wary of the clicks – as some email providers include unsubscribes as a click.

Wrap up

Hopefully this articles has encouraged you (or your email marketer) to be more active in understanding your email metrics. You can learn a lot about your audience, and your own messages. Try to include the above 5 metrics in your reports, to ensure you track your email performance over time.

With email marketing becoming more popular, and to a degree saturated, it’s critical that you understand your audience. This will build your relationship, grow your brand and ultimately see your revenue increase.

And if you’re running out of content to provide your audience, use the property articles, reports and charts published by CoreLogic RP Data each week. This provides content-rich information that is relevant to your audience, and further cements your positioning as the local property market expert.