In an earlier blog post, we talked about what and how to measure different elements of your marketing mix. We stressed the value of using measurement to make data-driven decisions that will help you understand where you are today, where you’re going and how best to get there.

Today, we’re going to explore what “good” looks like, to give you some benchmarks to compare against. These will help you to determine if what you’re doing is giving you “good” results or not.

Spoiler: no matter what you’re selling, who your audience is, or how amazing your marketing is, you will NEVER achieve anything close to 100% engagement from your emails, ads, social posts. Manage your expectations accordingly!!

What does GOOD like … for email?

There’s a lot of variety of “good” depending on your industry vertical, target audience, and call to action. However, industry giant MailChimp has calculated some key metrics for different industries and provides guidance on what you can expect for two of the most important metrics: open rate and click through rate.

Open rate

MailChimp’s user stats suggest that open rates average between a high of 28.77% (for governmental emails) to a low of 15.03% (for vitamin supplements), so you’ve got a real range to look at to determine what “good” might look like for your business.

MailChimp’s industry-wide average email open rate was 21.33%

Driving up your email open rates is an important facet to email marketing, and doing that relies on a number of factors:

  • Segmenting your audience so that the information you send them aligns with their interests – people are more likely to pay attention to stuff they’re already interested in, whether that’s a product, service or useful piece of information.
  • Sending emails at the right frequency so that your customers don’t forget who you are between blasts, or get irritated by getting email too frequently.
  • Sending messages at the right time so that customers get the message when they are most likely to be interested in what you’re selling them.

You can literally boost engagement by respecting your customers’ time and inbox!

Click through rate

Whether you’re selling a product or service, the driving motivator behind sending email to your customers is to sell them more – either immediately or in the future. To do that, your email should contain a compelling reason to want to learn more or buy more or do more. If it doesn’t, your click through rate will be low, because you aren’t giving your readers a reason to engage with your email.

MailChimp’s research shows that emails in the hobby industry have the highest open rate (5.01%), with email from restaurants having the lowest (1.34%). And that makes complete sense! Why? Because you can always be tempted to click and learn more about a compelling deal or piece of content about a hobby – something you love and probably wish you had more time for. On the other hand, you are less likely to be interested in a restaurant’s email right after you’ve eaten lunch, no matter how gorgeous the photos of the entree!

MailChimp calculates their average click rate for all industries at 2.62%

Other numbers to measure

Two other numbers to keep your eye on regarding email marketing are your unsubscribe rate and your email bounce rate.

A high UNSUBSCRIBE rate can be a real red flag that your email marketing strategy has gone off the rails. It may be a result of forcing users to create accounts to buy something (especially if they don’t purchase or return), of sending messages too frequently, or messages deemed irrelevant. If you see your unsubscribe rate climb, look at the most recent messages you’ve sent and see if you see a pattern to that behaviour, and determine what you can do to turn that trend around.

On the other hand, a high BOUNCE rate suggests that your email list may be getting a little old, and the addresses associated with your customers are falling out of date. Take a look at the addresses that have been bouncing. If you see a lot of Hotmail, Excite, or Yahoo accounts, it could mean your customers have abandoned those accounts in favour of Gmail or paid accounts. It may be time to promote your site with paid ads to generate some fresh emails to market to!

One of the most common ways to throw your marketing dollars out the window is to leap into a tactics-driven, scattershot marketing plan that doesn’t tie into a complete marketing strategy that is aligned with your brand. Unrivald Digital unlocks marketing success by combining enterprise-class marketing expertise with a passion for success. Want to grow? Get Unrivald.

Did you know?

3 Tips for improving your email engagement

  1. Test your subject lines for every blast – we talk about ways to make your subject lines more dynamic and eye-catching in an inbox swimming with messages.
  2. Create urgency and interest in every email message – time-sensitive deals and in-the-moment information are much more likely to drive engagement than random messages that don’t subtly urge your audience to open, read and engage with them.
  3. Make your email valuable to your customers – if whatever you’re sharing with your audience doesn’t interest them, then they will not engage with it – or with you! Boring, off-topic, non-useful emails get deleted, flagged as spam, unsubscribed, and forgotten. Don’t let that happen to you!

What does GOOD look like … for ecommerce sales?

The metric you want to measure and monitor in ecommerce is the conversion rate. The conversion rate of an ecommerce store can be calculated by taking the number of sales you made in a period and dividing it by the number of interactions you had in that same period. So, if your website made one sale today, and 100 people visited the store, your conversion rate is 1/100 = 1%. Two sales from 100 interactions is 2% and so on.

Conversion rate

A 2% conversion rate is a pretty normal conversion rate for most types of ecommerce stores, though there are some industry segments where 1% is amazing and others where 3% is considered on the low side, so know the average conversion rate in your industry before you celebrate or panic!

Conversion attribution is really important

If possible, you’ll want to determine the source of the interactions that led to sales (or bounces or other actions) on your site.

Here are some examples of what that means:

  • 1 sale on 100 visits that can be attributed to an email you sent
  • 1 sale on 100 visits that can be attributed to an organic social post you made
  • 1 sale on 100 visits that can be attributed to advertising you paid for

You likely paid nothing for a social post (unless you’ve hired a social media manager!), so that sale cost you very little – only the time it took you to put the post. The email-attributed sale is the next-least expensive conversion, as it took you only time plus the cost of your email mailer, if any. Finally, the most expensive sale was the one that came as a result of the advertisement, which may have cost you more than was returned for the investment!

Knowing where a conversion came from can help you focus your marketing efforts and money on the most lucrative channels for your business.

Abandoned carts

Another important action to measure in an ecommerce store are the number of abandoned carts your customers are generating – and what triggers that behaviour.

If you have 100 visits to your site and 10 of those visitors begin shopping by dropping items into their cart, you want to pay close attention to how many of those 10 make it through the checkout process and pay you for their products.

If NO customers complete their checkout process, you’ve got a problem!

That’s a pretty key metric to keep your eyes on! If no one converts after shopping, you need to know why ASAP! High product prices may deter customers from putting anything into their cart in the first place, but here are some reasons why your customers may be abandoning their carts instead of completing their purchase:

  • High shipping fees
  • Lengthy shipping times
  • Flat-out painful checkout processes

How to determine why your customers are abandoning their carts

Probably the easiest and fastest way to see why you’ve got high abandonment rates is to put on your customer hat and attempt to make a purchase from your site. 

  1. Create a customer account – is it easy? Did you get a friendly, on-brand welcome message? Did the confirmation message get sent to spam?
  2. Pick a product, add it to cart, then view your cart – is the product there? Is the pricing correct? Does it prompt you to add more items to reach a free shipping threshold? Is the “keep shopping” option available?
  3. Begin to check out – is it easy to add your shipping address? Can you change shipping options to get the products faster at a higher price? Are any applicable taxes added automatically? Is it easy to change the quantity of items in your cart?
  4. Continue to payment – did shipping get calculated automatically? Were you warned about extra shipping charges for heavier items? Was your credit card information, Apple or Google Pay information accepted? 

If there are no problems here, then either complete the process to see what it looks like for you as a “customer” and ensure there are no hidden charges or issues, OR abandon your cart and see what that experience is like – did you receive a prompt about your abandoned cart? Did the message go to spam? Did you feel a sense of urgency to act on the prompt? Was it attractive, on-brand, and friendly?

Other numbers to measure

There are other metrics that may be just as important as actual sales for your ecommerce store. For example, if you sell high-end items, your conversion rate may not be as high as in other spaces, and the numbers you’re really interested in are email open rates, or return traffic. If you sell digital products, then downloads may be the thing you need to focus on.

You may also want to look at the rate of reclaimed abandoned carts, too. If your customers get second thoughts during the shopping process BUT return after a reminder, then that’s good to know, too (and may give you additional insight into a shopping experience issue that needs to be resolved).

3 Tips for improving your ecommerce conversions

  1. Increase traffic – Since conversion rate relies, in part, on the volume of traffic that you generate to your site from a specific channel or promotion, get more eyeballs on your products in order to increase the likelihood of conversions occurring.
  2. Introduce incentives, like volume discounts, checkout add-ons, etc., to coax more customers to part with their money.
  3. Create a sense of urgency – we all have FOMO (fear of missing out), so encourage customers to react more quickly to a time-sensitive deal, or limited inventory in an advertised product.

Yeah, we do that

B2B, B2C, D2C – we know all the TLAs (that’s Three Letter Acronyms, BTW). We look at your business and marketing goals and create a bespoke strategy that is unique to you and solves your specific, unique challenges. That’s a marketing firm that is 100% FTW and 0% WTF. Get Unrivald today.

What does GOOD look like … for organic social media?

Social media continues to be the real wild west in terms of what “good” looks like and means. On Twitter, for example, most industries get miniscule engagement, while on platforms like Instagram, you may be able to expect 5% engagement.

The question then becomes: what are you using social media for? What are you looking for from it?

That is: how are you using your organic social accounts to generate engagement with your website and products or services?

Likes and follows make me feel good

For a long time, businesses looked at likes and follows as a way to gauge how effective their social media was. However, we now know that power-scrollers are happy to like lots of things – even if they don’t click to read or learn more. Their engagement is superficial, and driven by the image, video and text they see without expanding or clicking. One great video can inspire me to follow a TikTok account with no intention of ever buying their merchandise, visiting their website, or engaging with them on other platforms. And if you’re honest, that probably describes your personal social viewing habit, too!

Likes and follows are valuable only in the sense that it can encourage more platform users to see your content - not drive sales and boost the bottom line.

Treat those vanity metrics as exactly that – something that makes you feel good, and don’t take them any more seriously than that!

Click through rate

A user who can be compelled to actually click through to your website and engage with content on your platform (or who can engage with and make a purchase directly from social media) is a much more valuable user than someone who lovebombs you and moves on.

To boost your click through rate, you’ll need to bring your A-game to content and visuals. Your copy and imagery in post should entice a potential customer to learn more. Judiciously invite your users periodically to share your posts, to tag a friend or reply. Judiciously, because doing so in every post will numb users to that call to action and will almost definitely lead to a drop in engagement.

Remember that customers on social media are looking for variety, inspiration, or information, depending on the platform. Know what your customers are interested in on a specific platform, and deliver it!

Other numbers to measure

Engagement can also be measured by how long a user watches a video (and the number of times they rewatch it). If platform users watch a video longer than 3 seconds, that means you’ve delivered a compelling piece of content to them!  High levels of sharing, commenting and tagging (especially if you didn’t ask them to in order to get something in exchange) is another way to measure engagement.

3 Tips for improving your social media engagement

  1. Post content that generates engagement: users engage with contests, polls, humour (as long as it’s on-brand) – they engage the least with staff bios (unless presented in an unusual way), and influencer posts, according to Sprout Social.
  2. Engage with users: it should go without saying, but it doesn’t. Users engage with brands hoping to get engagement back. If you don’t like, follow or comment on their content, they’ll limit doing so with yours. Social is about being social, not shouting into the void!
  3. Get visual: if you haven’t already done so, make videos and images a more integral part of your social media strategy. And that means good visuals: your product images should look 100% compelling and inviting – not blurry, poorly sized or blah.

There is no universal GOOD

Understanding that there is no universal GOOD to be achieved across the board in marketing is a critical first step in managing your own expectations and reducing the headache of trying to achieve it. 

A common theme throughout our recommendations here are testing, trying and experimenting, because you don’t know what’s working and what isn’t without it. More importantly, your customers are being bombarded with marketing messages, so you can’t always do the same thing if you want to hold their interest. That which worked before the pandemic probably doesn’t work now that we’ve collectively lived through that period in history!

While we’ve presented this as a series of DIY projects, you may find them overwhelming. Don’t panic! Stay focused on your area of expertise (running your business, engaging with your customers) and bring in a power-hitter like Unrivald Digital to align tactics to strategy, put your brand in the driver’s seat and deliver amazing results with a bespoke marketing plan that sets your business apart from the rest.

If you’re ready to begin the journey from meh to amazing, it’s time to get Unrivald.

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Gary Pitcher

Web Developer

Gary has forgotten more about technology than most of us will ever know. He’s worked in dozens of industries in a wide variety of roles and solves difficult problems recreationally. By the time you’ve formulated your question, Gary already has an answer, which would be annoying except he’s so darned nice about it.

Adrian Proctor

Web Developer

When you put Adrian behind a keyboard, magic happens. On stage, that means he’s making music. At work, he’s bringing website designs to life. Adrian is probably the quietest member of the Unrivald Digital team, but when he speaks, we all listen because we know he’s got something important to say.

Shaheen Bhimani


Shaheen is the guy you want in your corner when you’ve got a complex problem to solve in the next 15 minutes. He’s part MacGyver, part Tony Stark and part while still being the nicest guy in the room, hands down. His soft-spoken, down-to-earth vibe and ability to deliver makes him a client favourite.

Blair Shunk


Whether leading a meeting, riding his motorcycle, or running in the Banff Jasper Relay (for which he was Race Director for many years), Blair connects with the world around him. He inspires his team to work hard while never forgetting the value of the relationships he builds with clients.