Entrepreneur and author Dr. H. James Harrington revealed “Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.”

If new to digital marketing, it may be difficult to navigate the murky waters of email marketing metrics. Here’s a breakdown of a few common tracking terms for anyone lost at the mention of CTR.

1) Number Sent:
Definition: The total number of contacts to whom the message was sent, including bounced messages.
The ‘Real Deal’: The number sent may include non-subscribers–it is typical for a seed list composed of members of your organization to receive copies of an email for tracking purposes. The number sent includes seed sends in this total. Keep in mind that this metric, number sent, is different than total contacts in your email database. The total database number includes suppressed contacts (opt outs, blocks).

2) Unique Open Rate:
Definition: The number of contacts who have either viewed a mailing’s images or clicked within the email. Each open is counted only once per contact.
The ‘Real Deal’: Too much emphasis is often put on unique open rate, the number of unique opens as a percentage of the number of email messages delivered. Read here to learn why metrics other than open rate may be more valuable to your campaign’s success.

3) Total Opens:
Definition: The total times that all of your contacts have opened a specific mailing.
The ‘Real Deal’: Unlike total opens, unique open rate is the industry standard and what is used when benchmarking with other like organizations. While total opens can tell you that a contact has opened your email multiple times, it is not a core measure of success.

4) Unique Click-Through Rate:
Definition: The number of unique clicks as a percentage of the number of unique opens.
The ‘Real Deal’: Often shortened to CTR, the unique click-through rate is an important metric to watch in terms of measuring how engaged your subscribers are. Want an even better understanding of how relevant your content is? Take a look at CTOR.

5) Unsubscribe Rate:
Definition: The number of opt-outs received as a percentage of the total number of email messages delivered.
The ‘Real Deal’: Not every subscriber will take the time to complete your opt-out process. More often that not, a recipient will choose to ignore or trash the message or filter your emails into a junk folder. It is recommended to complete a database cleanse of your unengaged subscribers that are not opening your communications.

More questions on email? Find out how Complete Marketing can take your organization’s email marketing to the next level together with other marketing streams into one cohesive content marketing program.