Magnifying glass focusing on email KPIsRight now, as I type this, I have 52 promotional emails sitting in my inbox. And it’s only 3 p.m. I know there are more to come.

Some of these emails are from businesses or services I currently use or was once mildly interested in. Some of them are from places I haven’t thought of since the Obama administration. And still others, well, I have no idea how they got in my inbox.

All these emails are unopened. I clicked on a handful of the 69 I received yesterday. Recipe of the Day — Sunshine Chicken — looked too good to pass up! But, regrettably, I didn’t have the necessary curry powder the dish called for.

But back to my inbox. The fact of the matter is, I’m receiving a boatload of promotional emails every day. And the vast majority of them sit unopened. In a world where we’re all bombarded with emails, we (as marketers) need to make sure our content stands out. How can we gauge if we’re hitting the mark? By knowing which email KPIs to monitor — key performance indicators, that is.

A winning strategy

Email campaigns are an effective marketing strategy — for healthcare and just about every other business or product out there.

  • According to Statista, there are 3.9 billion daily email users worldwide, with 4.3 billion projected by 2023.
  • In another survey, some 59% of consumers said that email campaigns influence their buying decisions.
  • By some estimates, for every one dollar a healthcare marketer spends on an email campaign, they can expect a $42 ROI.

But that ROI is only possible if you’re deliberate about your strategy and — perhaps most importantly — dedicated to monitoring your email campaign metrics.

5 email KPIs to monitor

Here are a few essential email KPIs you should be tracking for your email marketing strategy.

1. Open rate (OR)

You’re going nowhere fast if no one is opening your emails. According to Mailchimp, in 2019, medical, dental, and healthcare industries had an email open rate of nearly 22%. That’s about average for all of the industries they looked at.

To increase your open rates:

  • Create an engaging subject line.
  • Use preview text that’s short (generally not more than about 100-150 characters) and gives a sense of urgency with a call-to-action.
  • Segment your audience (senior citizens probably aren’t interested in information about your pediatric specialties).
  • Test “from” names — for example, the name of your hospital, your CEO, a department head, etc.— to see which garner the highest open rate.
  • Hit the sweet spot between sending too many and too few emails. SmartrMail says you should be aiming for four to eight emails a month, but that will vary depending on your industry and your audience. If you see a drop-off in engagement or an uptick in unsubscribes, it may mean you’re sending too many emails. Watch your metrics carefully to decide what works for your organization.

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2. Click-through rate (CTR)

This is the percentage of people who click on a link in your email campaign in relation to how many received the email. It’s one of the important email KPIs to monitor because it tells you that subscribers were engaged enough to take action (click on a link) once they opened the email.

Mailchimp puts the average CTR for the healthcare industry at about 2.5%, roughly what it is for most industries. To increase your CTR, they suggest embedding several links in your email campaign and making sure you’re using link text that’s descriptive, concise, and relevant. For example, linking to “contact us” is better than linking to “click here to reach us.”

3. Click-to-open rate (CTOR)

CTOR is like two email KPIs in one. It lets you know how many people opened your email and then—of those who opened it—how many clicked on a link. This is known as the “effective rate” because it gives you valuable insight into consumers who may be truly motivated to use your healthcare system or practice.

What’s a good benchmark? According to the creative agency Embrace, the median CTOR for healthcare, hospitals and biotech is 6.8%. If you’re looking to improve this rate:

  • Use links that are clear and easy to click on, especially on mobile devices.
  • Add a larger call-to-action (CTA).
  • Double-check that your email content matches up with your subject line. Don’t pull a bait-and-switch!
  • Send content that’s relevant to your audience and segmented when possible. Your geriatric patients, for example, may not want to hear about a maternity support group.

4. Unsubscribe rate

Make sure you’re checking your unsubscribe rate, i.e., the number of people who ask to opt-out of your emails. According to GetResponse, the average for healthcare marketing emails is 0.21%. If yours is higher or on an upward trend, make sure you’re segmenting your audience, writing engaging copy, and not bombarding your audience with email after email. Other tips:

  • Ensure that the emails are readable on a mobile device.
  • Test your subject lines and calls-to-action to see which gets the most hits.
  • Offer exclusive discounts.

Once you see what works, re-strategize your campaign and keep an eye on it with email tracking metrics.

5. Bounce rate

Think of bounce rates as digital marketing’s version of  “return to sender” or the “undeliverable” messages used by the post office. They’re emails that can’t be delivered or that get “bounced” back to you. There are two kinds of bounces:

  • “Hard” bounces occur because of things like an incorrect email address or domain name (the email is permanently undeliverable).
  • “Soft” bounces may happen because the recipient’s inbox is full or the file is too large (things that, once fixed, make the email deliverable).

Biotica Healthcare Marketing reports that an acceptable bounce rate for healthcare email campaigns is 3-5%.

Why is bounce rate an essential email KPIs to monitor? When an email bounces, your email is never opened, never read, and never acted upon. It’s a big waste of time, resources and money. To reduce bounce rates:

  • Review your email content for spam triggers.
  • Research new email addresses for former patients, doctors, and others.
  • Replace undeliverable addresses with new ones to keep up the size of your database.

They’ve reached your website: Now what?

Your campaign’s been successful! The email has been opened, read, and clicked on. You’ve driven another potential consumer to your website (we’d give you a raise if we could!). Now you have to start analyzing your healthcare website metrics to see how the email subscriber engages with your site.

Using tracking codes on your email links can help you analyze your email subscribers’ actions in Google Analytics (GA). There’s a lot to say about what to track in GA — that may be a blog for another day. But off the bat, here are some must-have metrics to monitor:

  • Number of users. These are the number of visitors who came to your site within a certain date range.
  • Traffic source. We know the user came from an email, but which email did they click on? Using those tracking codes in your email links can help you differentiate between different email campaigns and even different CTA buttons.
  • Pageviews. This is the number of times a user loads a page on your website.
  • Session times. This lets you know how long someone spends on your website. The more time someone spends on your site, the more engaged they probably are.
  • Bounce rate. This measures how many people get on your website but leave after viewing only one page. Obviously, the lower this number is, the better.

These metrics can give you important insights into whether your content engages email users beyond the initial click.

Keeping score with email KPIs

Email marketing campaigns are a lot like the tree in the forest. If it falls and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?

You could write the most brilliant email. It’s relevant, concise, and actionable. But if it’s not getting to the right audience and — more importantly — if it’s not being read and clicked on, it’s just another email clogging up someone’s inbox. It’s not making a sound.

To make sure your healthcare marketing emails are hitting their target, closely track your email campaign metrics. The email KPIs outlined here can give you insight on what to refine, revise, and redirect so that you can draft and deliver the right email to the right reader.

Need an email content partner? WriterGirl’s team of healthcare content experts can craft campaigns for any audience you want to reach — patients or providers. We’ll create custom content that helps you achieve your marketing goals. Reach out anytime to learn more.