Email Engagement

What Is Email Engagement and How Do I Measure It?


You’ve perfected the design, crafted the content and hit “send.” Now, it’s time to track your email’s engagement.

What is email engagement? It’s a measurement of how people interact with your email. For example, do they:

  • Open the email?
  • Read the content?
  • Click on links?
  • Follow a call to action?

Email engagement metrics can help inform future design and content decisions, which can lead to more effective email marketing campaigns.

Let’s look at some of the basics of email engagement and what you can do to optimize content for your subscribers.

The Basics: Email Open Rates

One of the first metrics email marketers look at is the number of people who opened the email. Your analytics tool may tally this in total opens or unique opens – the difference being that unique opens do not include repeated opens by the same user.

However, opens are just the beginning when it comes to email engagement metrics, and you don’t want to use them as the only measure of an email’s success. After all, subscribers could open an email accidentally or delete the email shortly after reading it.

Email Opens Engagement Example

Aside from opens, don’t forget to pay attention to how many users are immediately deleting the email or marking it as spam. Too many of these can result in internet service providers (ISPs) sending your email straight to subscribers’ spam folders – yikes!

If you see a lot of deletes or spam, it’s time to reconsider your messaging or rework your preheader text, so it is more likely to draw in subscribers and keep them. Segmenting your subscriber list will also help increase your email open rates. Remember, sending relevant content to your subscribers is the best way to improve email engagement.

What Is “Read, Skim, Delete”?

Once you see how many people opened your email, it’s time to analyze whether they’ve read any of the content.

Many email tools will provide some kind of “read,” “skim” and “glance/delete” engagement stats. These stats measure how much time your subscribers spend looking at your email once they’ve opened it.

How can this information help? Well, if you notice more people are skimming your email, consider moving important details or a call-to-action (CTA) higher in the copy.

Depending on the email analytics tool you use the “threshold” for read, skim and glance will be set to different timeframes. In the Email on Acid analytics, you can adjust these thresholds yourself. If you don’t adjust them, our defaults are set at:

  • Glance/delete: 2 seconds or less
  • Skim: 7 seconds or less
  • Read: 8 seconds or more

Engagement Time Distribution

If these thresholds can be adjusted, it begs the question: What should the thresholds be set to?

Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer. These engagement rates will vary depending on the goals of your email, the type of content you send, and your audience. Our advice: Once you set these thresholds, keep them consistent with each email you send. This will allow you to accurately compare engagement across your different email campaigns.

Click Tracking and Heat Maps

Email engagement can also be measured by the number of times users click on a link in your email. Like the open rates, your analytics tool will track the number of total clicks and unique clicks. Unique clicks do not count repeated clicks from the same user.

If you’re interested in click stats, then we recommend using click tracking. In the Email on Acid analytics tool, we provide the HTML code that will track total and unique clicks for all the links in your email.

Click Tracking

Using a merge tag can also help increase the accuracy between total clicks and unique clicks; these tags can help track recipients separately, even if they share an IP address (such as multiple people in a single office or home).

Some tools also include heat maps for your click tracking. These maps give you a visualization of the popular links in your email, which can inform link placement in future emails. In Email on Acid’s heat maps, blue areas represent the fewest clicks, green and yellow are middle-of-the-road, and red areas receive the most clicks.

Clicks Heat Tracking

Measuring Beyond the Email

The success of an email is not measured in email metrics alone. Oftentimes the goal of a campaign is to bring subscribers to a website where they can engage with your brand or product.

Once you’ve analyzed opens, reads, and clicks, it’s time to look at your website analytics to see how many subscribers visited your website from your email campaign. You can also look at how long they stayed on your site and the percentage of users who left after viewing just one page (bounce rate). Depending on the goal of the email, it may also be important to look at how many conversions the campaign generated.

If you notice a lot of subscribers leaving your site shortly after they arrive, it might be time to look at the content you’re linking to – is it the right fit for this email campaign and audience? The email CTA may need some adjustment, too, if you find people are choosing to read your email but not necessarily click through to your website.

The bottom line: Tracking your email engagement takes some time, but it’s worth it! These metrics can help you make better decisions with your email campaigns, which can ultimately save you time and money.

Track Your Email Performance

At Email on Acid, we help you test and track your emails. After you’ve finished setting up your email campaign, you can use our advanced analytics tool to help you track opens, reads, clicks and more. We also analyze the different platforms and devices your subscribers are using, so you can craft the perfect email for your audience.

Start testing today!

Author: Melanie Graham

Born and raised in New England, Melanie has a background as a writer, editor and journalist. After roaming the U.S. as an expert vagabond, she’s landed in Denver as Email on Acid’s content manager. She’s a music nerd at heart who loves spending time at the piano.

Author: Melanie Graham

Born and raised in New England, Melanie has a background as a writer, editor and journalist. After roaming the U.S. as an expert vagabond, she’s landed in Denver as Email on Acid’s content manager. She’s a music nerd at heart who loves spending time at the piano.