Classy - Allison Guass-avatar1
Allison Gauss
6 min
email metrics in graph

6 Essential Email Metrics for Nonprofit Marketers

With a strong email strategy, you can engage more of your audience, keep them informed, and even mobilize them to donate and fundraise.

There are a few key email marketing metrics that are fairly simple to understand and act on. Below are six of the most important email metrics for nonprofit marketers to track and optimize. Use them to create emails that drive more engagement and action from your community.

1. Open Rate

What it Means

Open rate is the percentage of email recipients who open the message. It’s calculated by dividing the number of opened emails by the number of emails delivered.

Emails opened/Emails delivered = Open Rate

Why it Matters

To effectively mobilize and communicate with donors, you need to make sure they see your message. If they don’t open your email, they won’t see any of your content or calls to action. A poor open rate limits your email marketing at every subsequent step.

Levers for Improvement

  • Subject Line – This may be the most important factor in whether your email gets opened. Check out this post for tips to help you write more clickable subject lines.
  • Sender – The email address and name showing up next to your subject line can also affect your open rate. Make sure donor communications are sent from a named individual. This makes the message feel more personal.

2. Click-Through Rate

What it Means

The percentage of people who opened your email that also clicked on a link within the message. Calculate your CTR by dividing the number of clicks by the number of opened emails.

Clicks/Emails Opened = Click Through Rate

Why it Matters

Click-through rate tells you how effectively your emails are getting readers to take action and learn more. While you certainly want your audience to open and read your emails, the next step is to encourage them to click a link to another page such as your website, a blog post, a petition, or a donation page.

Levers for Improvement

  • CTA Design and Copy – The color, placement, and wording of your call to action can affect how many people click through. Read this post for tips on optimizing your CTAs.
  • Content Offers and Appeals – What you are asking your email subscribers to do also matters. Offer relevant, engaging content and present your appeal as an opportunity to make a difference.

3. Unsubscribe Rate

What it Means

The percentage of email recipients who unsubscribe from your communications. It’s calculated by dividing the number of unsubscribes by the number of emails delivered.

Unsubscribes/Emails Delivered = Unsubscribe Rate

Why it Matters

These people aren’t just ignoring an individual message; they’re preventing you from sending any more. While it’s normal for a few people to opt out, a high unsubscribe rate could mean donors don’t find your communications relevant, interesting, or helpful.

Levers for Improvement

  • Content Relevance – If you repeatedly send people content that doesn’t interest them, they may unsubscribe. Segment your community and send content and appeals related to their interests.
  • Design – People don’t want to receive ugly emails. Create emails that are short, simple, and pleasing to the eye.
  • Frequency – While many marketers fear that frequent communications will drive people to unsubscribe, donors do want consistent communication on topics they care about. Just don’t email them every day.

4. Donation Rate

What it Means

Donation rate tells you what percentage of opened emails result in a donation. A donor must not only click on a CTA in your email, but also complete a transaction when they arrive at your website. Calculate your donation rate by dividing the number of donations that originate from an email by the number of people who opened that email.

Donations tied to email/Number of email opens = Donation Rate

Why it Matters

This metric tells you whether your emails are effectively inciting donations. This is especially important for your fundraising appeals. When you know which messages result in donations, you can send more like them and raise more money. One way to track your donation rate is to create custom donation pages tied to specific appeals. Then you can see which donation pages receive the most gifts.

Levers for Improvement

  • Email Content – If you want people to donate, you need to show them why. An appeal email should set up the CTA by telling a story or explaining the need for action.
  • CTA – As previously mentioned, the design and phrasing of your CTA can affect the number of people who click through to your landing page.
  • Landing Page – When people do arrive at your website, make the donation process short and easy.

5. List Size

What it Means

This is the total number of email contacts you have collected from supporters. You can segment your entire distribution list into smaller lists based on giving capacity, giving history, and other factors.

Why it Matters

Email allows you to communicate specifically with people who have already expressed interest in your work. Individuals on your email lists are some of your best prospects for donors and fundraisers.

Your list is the pool from which your open, click, and donation rates will be drawn. If you maintain those engagement rates, a larger email list can lead to more website visitors and donations.

Levers for Improvement

  • Subscribe CTAs – Your email subscriber list size will depend on how easy you make it for people to opt in to your communications. Your website should give visitors plenty of opportunities to subscribe. Experiment with the design and copy of those CTAs.
  • Content Offers – You can also grow your list size by offering useful downloadable content to people who submit their email addresses.

6. Load Time

What it Means

The load time is a measure (in seconds) of how long it takes for your email to load after someone clicks on it.

Why it Matters

People expect online browsing and communications to be instantaneous. If your emails take too long to load, your audience is more likely to abandon and ignore them.

Levers for Improvement

  • Email Size – Smaller and shorter emails don’t take as long to load. Keep your messages short and link out to further information and content.
  • Number of Pictures – Instead of crowding your email with a ton of pictures, use just one or two high-quality images. More images require more loading time.

 

With a strong email marketing strategy, your nonprofit can mobilize more supporters to propel your mission forward. But you don’t have to tackle all these elements at once. While it’s smart to track them and identify your baseline performance, focus on improving one metric at a time. Take a look at your existing email strategy to see where you can most improve—your open rate might be a great place to start.


Where social entrepreneurs go to learn and grow

Join over 20,000 leaders just like you who get their weekly dose of technology, innovation, fundraising ideas, and the latest industry trends.

Subscribe to the Classy Blog