How To Create an Email Marketing Report

Catherine Lovering
Published: May 31, 2024
Last Updated:
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At one time, email was the cutting edge of instant communication, and it stood alone as a quick and easy way to get your brand message out to customers. Now, email has stiff competition from social media and even text as an "instant" form of messaging. 

But email marketing is still an essential part of the digital marketer's toolkit. It's found a resurgence as a way to communicate differently with prospects, offering more in-depth information and opportunities for engagement than might exist on social media.

So how do you know if your email marketing efforts are working? For many marketers it can feel like these messages are simply fading out into the ether with an uncertain path home to conversion. 

But the truth is very different. You can gather your email analytics to develop valuable insights into your campaign performance. These analytics come together into one essential document: your email marketing report. 

What Is an Email Marketing Report and What Is Its Purpose?

An email marketing report is a comprehensive analysis of the key metrics of your email marketing campaigns. It uses a number of key data points to give you an overall assessment of how well your email marketing is working. 

The basis of this report is data from things like bounce rates, open rates, unsubscribes, and email deliverability to assess the impact of your email marketing strategies. Using the data and analysis from this report, you can make data-driven decisions based on actionable insights. 

The best email marketing reports take a comparative analysis approach, looking at changes in key performance indicators (KPIs) to identify whether your email campaigns are gaining traction. In-depth reporting analytics allow you to drill down into the specific metrics that can help you increase the impact of your email marketing campaigns given your strategic goals. 

The bottom line is that no marketer wants to invest time and money in an email marketing campaign if everyone clicks "delete" as soon as it pops into their inbox — or worse, if your emails get classified as spam. But there's no need to simply proceed with vague hope that your email marketing efforts will stir up interest. You can look at the numbers to see what's working — and what's not.

Essential Email Marketing Metrics To Include in Your Report

So, what data points should you include? You likely have a general idea of how many people are on your email list — but does that give you the information you need to act strategically? Of course not. You need to start with a number of email marketing KPIs. Let's go through a few of the most important ones. 

Email Database Growth and Number of Subscribers

How many addresses do you have on your list? In general, the more the better — because the more people who have expressed an interest in your brand, the more potential leads. By choosing to subscribe to your email list, they have become a "qualified lead" — someone who is more than casually aware of your brand and wants to learn more about what you have to offer. 

Ideally, your email database should grow without limitation. People should continue to express interest in what you do, and if they haven't already signed up to hear from you, you want them to do so — that's why email database growth is an essential metric. If your email list shows negative growth, it means some of your prior leads have begun to opt out. Positive growth shows a building up of the pool of potential customers. 

In your email marketing report, number of subscribers is the point-in-time figure. You can compare this period-over-period to prior reports. The change in subscribers translates into a positive or negative growth trend, which you can use to inform aspects of your digital marketing — like optimization of a landing page where the conversion activity is to sign up for the email list. 

Unsubscribe Rates and Email Bounces

The flipside of database growth is the unsubscribe rate. This includes people who open your email but decide to ask you to remove them from your list. While unsubscribes are never ideal, they're somewhat inevitable. Since you want to keep your unsubscribe rate as low as possible, it's one of the more useful email marketing statistics.

Email bounces have the same net effect as unsubscribes. They reduce the number of valid email addresses on your list and therefore shrink the pool of potential leads. 

Of course, your intuition tells you a bounce isn't as dramatic as an unsubscribe. A bounce might arise from a typo in a fill form on your landing page, while an unsubscribe involves a person actively choosing to no longer receive your communications. 

While it is true that some companies spend time trying to remedy bounced emails — they might keep a list of bounces and correct obvious mistakes like an address missing punctuation, as in "name@gmailcom" — not all companies will put the time into scouring for the right email addresses. 

The email marketing report, however, can tell you how many messages aren't getting through — so if you've sent messages to 1,000 people but 100 of those messages bounced back, your potential impact from that mailing was only 900. Those are metrics you should keep precise as part of your marketing report.

Open Rates and Click-Through Rates

Knowing how many of those messages got into an inbox — not bounced back to sender — is essential for you to calculate other key email marketing metrics: open rates and click-through rates (CTRs.). 

These are likely intuitive, even if you're new to email marketing. They answer the questions of how many people who got the email opened it and how many of those followed the call to action it contained. 

Anyone who has an email inbox probably knows what it's like to select numerous messages and remove them without having a look inside — even when they recognize the brand sender. 

It makes sense that your open rates and CTRs should be as high as possible. In an email marketing report, the change in these figures over time can provide insight into the effectiveness of your targeted email marketing. If your results are falling short, you can use this data to revisit strategies to increase open rates, like by changing how you use email subject lines.

Website Traffic From Email Campaigns

Closely linked to the CTR, website traffic from email campaigns gives marketers an idea of the impact of their efforts. Most email campaign goals involve getting the reader to click out of their inbox and onto the client's site. 

Even if the goal is not direct sales, but brand awareness, there's typically an impetus to get the reader to learn more by visiting the brand's other digital offerings. Not to mention, without a call to action of any kind, it's hard for marketers to assess whether a high email open rate actually translates into brand goodwill or sales. 

This metric is one you can assess in the context of your overall digital marketing activities. It might come up in your comprehensive marketing reports as one channel through which leads found your website. As part of an email marketing report, it's one way to help map out a strategy to results. If contacts are visiting your website in response to an email, they might move further down the email marketing funnel — beyond brand awareness and closer to conversion.

Total Conversions and Conversion Rate

Conversion is an open concept that loosely means taking an action a brand or marketer wants a potential customer to take. A sale is a clear conversion — but so is downloading free information, and even, yes, signing up for an email list. 

In brand email marketing, therefore, there are a few possible points of conversion. If the campaign goal is to get a prospect on the list and they join it, that's a conversion. If they follow calls to action in an email once they're on the list, that's also a conversion.

Typically your email marketing report focuses on actions of parties who are already receiving your communications. The email marketing analytics can identify the total number of conversions — that's the number of click-throughs to the website, the number of product sales, or the number of actions as defined by the particular campaign. 

The data also lets you know the rate of conversion. More total conversions don't always mean a high rate of conversion. Let's say your email list grew from 500 to 1,000 between time periods. In that time, your total number of conversions grew from 20 to 30. 

In this example, while your total conversions have increased by 50%, your conversion rate is actually lower. In the prior period, the rate was 20/500 = 0.04, or 4%. In the current period, the rate was 30/1000 = 0.03, or 3%. 

Which one is better? That depends on a few factors, such as whether increasing the size of your email list cost you a significant investment that you won't make back despite the modest increase in conversions. 

This type of analysis — how the email marketing metrics impact your bottom line — can be an important part of your company's email marketing reports.

Overall Return on Investment

One final essential piece of data is return on investment (ROI). This is something that's also fairly intuitive — and for the non-marketers who might be looking at your email marketing report, it might be the most fundamental data point.

ROI at its most basic is how much you got back in revenue from the amount of money you spent on email marketing. If you spent $20,000 but you can attribute $40,000 directly to the campaign, the ROI is 2:1. For every $1 you spent, you got $2 back.

Let's say you developed a new email marketing campaign targeted at customers who have already bought a product through your e-commerce site. The campaign is to get pre-sales of a new product that's going to drop in three months. 

Your campaign for this pre-sale launch includes creating a landing page on your website to take orders, as well as a series of enticing email correspondences to encourage customers to do so. If your total spend on the campaign was less than what you brought in, you have a positive ROI.

You might create an email marketing report just for this specific campaign in order to assess whether your email marketing strategy worked to drive sales for the product. A discrete campaign analysis report would normally include metrics like ROI, CTRs, and open rates to offer data-driven insights into how well your email marketing is working. 

How Should You Interpret Your Email Marketing Data?

The underlying query with this question is perhaps, "What should I do with these insights?" That's part of the job of the individual creating the email marketing report on your behalf. But by working with your marketing team, you can develop action items to respond to key points of data that need attention. Here are a few ideas:

  • Lower bounce rate by using alternate modes of contact to ask the prospect for a correct email.
  • Increase click-through rates by developing highly visual emails with a strong and easy-to-spot call to action.
  • Increase open rates by focusing on times of day when your emails are more likely to be clicked on.

Beyond action items, you can use your email data to interpret the ultimate efficacy of your campaigns and improve their reach.

10 Expert Tips for Creating Email Marketing Analytics Reports

So you're ready to create an email marketing analytics report. What steps should you take? While just about anyone can throw a few data points together in a spreadsheet, there are some considerations you should take to elevate your report's quality. Here are our 10 best tips for creating reports that are impactful and actionable.

1. Choose Relevant KPIs That Impact Revenue

There are lots of potential data points to include on an email marketing report. Hone in on those that are directly relevant to revenue. These are KPIs that directly involve the customer buying journey: open rates, CTRs, and conversions. The monetary value of these KPIs might not be readily apparent, but you'll know that eventually they'll come around to hit your bottom line. 

2. Consider Different Segments and Timeframes

The efficacy of your email marketing shifts and changes over time. Your reporting should be a constant source of up-to-date information that compares data points to the same metrics in other time periods. It's not enough to do a one-off email marketing report, think things are going great, and continue as usual. Compare campaigns and time periods to show trends over time.

3. Showcase Performance by Device Type

Your email marketing likely performs differently among mobile users vs. desktop users. While the trends lean towards mobile responsiveness, it's essential not to make assumptions about how your email marketing performs on a particular device. In your report, parse out metrics according to mobile and desktop users. If you're falling far behind on one device type or another, take a closer look at responsiveness and user experience for each device type.

4. Specify Your Subscriber Sources

Subscriber growth or stagnation is an important metric — something you want to keep tabs on. When it's not moving in your preferred direction, you want to know why. Understanding the sources of your subscribers is key to this analysis. Do they arrive at your landing page through organic search? Are they existing customers who filled out a feedback form? Once your subscription bases start to shift, source info can help to determine how once-healthy sources of potential interest are no longer driving your traffic.

5. Highlight the Stages of the Customer Journey

Email marketing is designed to spur action — a mere open isn't enough — but the individuals taking that action can vary greatly in their stage in the buyer's journey. In your reporting, you can drill down into where those who responded to your CTA are in their consideration of your selling proposition. Maybe they're still at the mid-funnel, information-seeking stage, or maybe they have a credit card in hand, ready to convert.

By combining data from the specifics of the campaign, who it targeted, and the actions that resulted, you can get some insight into how their position in the sales funnel impacted the likelihood that an email marketing campaign was able to meet its goals.

6. Include an Analysis of Your Highest-Performing Campaigns

It's essential to know what's working well, as this provides a model for future campaigns. If you have one campaign that's resulted in phenomenal metrics, take a deep dive to try to discover how that can be replicated. Look specifically at the subscriber sources — how people found you — and calls to action that led them to convert. The magic formula could be in finding the right match between buyer intent and brand offering.

7. Look Beyond Short-Term Trends

Any digital marketing strategies are important to analyze over the long term. After all, you can have a robust email list right now, but over time people might unsubscribe or fail to update their information. If you're not replacing unsubscribes with new interested people, you'll lose your reserve of potential customers. By analyzing long-term trends, you can see when a metric is moving in the wrong direction — and take action to turn it around.

8. Apply Data Visualization Best Practices

Remember how your emails should be visually appealing to improve click-throughs? That's also true of email marketing reports. You want readers not only to like what they see, but also to have information that's clear and easy to understand. Bar graphs, line graphs, and pie charts are all examples of common data visualization tools that make trends over time, sharp declines in KPIs, and other data points easy to grasp at a glance.

9. Provide Data-Driven Suggestions for Improvement

Email marketing reports are fundamental to get your data all in one place. But what are email analytics without insights? The data is just that — data — unless you use it as a basis to decide upon strategic action. In your email marketing reports, suggest ways to respond to key points in the report. This can be something relatively simple, such as suggesting a new survey when people unsubscribe so the brand understands why people are opting out.

10. Consider Automating Your Reports

There's generally no need to do a new report from scratch every time. You can set up an automated workflow whereby your email marketing data is fed into reporting software that allows for on-the-spot report creation. In the rapidly changing world of digital marketing, automation might be one feature that allows you to stay up to speed.

The Best Tools and Programs for Email Marketing Reporting

If you don't want to create an email marketing report from scratch, it can be useful to learn a bit more about the various tools available for campaign reporting. You can start with the program you currently use to develop and distribute your email marketing campaigns. There's a good chance there's an analytics component built right in.

If you're looking for another tool, there's no shortage of solutions. Here are just a few you might want to investigate:

When you are assessing these tools, you can take into account a number of factors such as cost, functionality, data security, and compatibility with your in-house systems. You might also want a reporting tool that's customizable for different report needs, such as specific email campaigns, or ongoing monitoring. 

Key Takeaways

Email marketing allows you to communicate directly with people who have shown an interest in your brand. Your email marketing reports analyze key points of data, such as open rates, click-throughs, and conversions. These email marketing metrics create the basis upon which you can make data-driven decisions about your ongoing email campaigns.


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