April 19, 2023
Email Marketing for Dog Trainers: Metrics You Need to Know

German shepherd smiling at its owner's computer_blog post on email marketing metrics

Congrats — you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone and not only created an email list, but you actually send marketing emails to it! Along with your religiously created regular newsletters, you have an automated welcome sequence, and frequently send customer delight emails. But…is all your hard work paying off?

To find out, you need to review some important email marketing metrics: your Open Rate (OR), Click Through Rate (CTR), and Click to Open Rate (CTOR).

Luckily, whichever email marketing program you use will undoubtedly provide those numbers for you. Your next task is to work out what’s good, what’s not… and what to do about them if they’re not where you want them to be.

Let’s look at the top three email marketing metrics you need to know.

Email Marketing Metric #1: Open Rate (OR)

Just as you’d expect, your open rate is the percentage of your email messages that get opened. So, if you send your newsletter to 200 people — and of those, 100 are opened — then your OR is 50%.  

But is that good, bad, or neither? Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any hard data on industry metrics for dog trainers so we have to make a best guess based on figures from similar industries. Campaign Monitor provides the following benchmarks:

IndustryOpen RatesClick-Through RatesClick-To-Open RatesUnsubscribe Rates
Healthcare Services23.7%3.0%13.4%0.3%
Professional Services19.3%2.1%11.1%0.2%
Wellness & Fitness19.2%1.2%6.0%0.4%

Although dog trainers often think of themselves as educators, it’s probably not valid to compare ourselves to the numbers provided here. “Education” emails in this sense would be those from schools, universities, and similar establishments sent to parents and/or students.
Dog training as a profession is more likely to fit somewhere within the Professional Services category and align with the numbers for the Fitness and Wellness and Other categories.  

Why is my OR higher or lower than the average?

You’ve checked your OR but it’s way different to those in the benchmarks. What’s that all about? Well, there are a number of reasons your numbers might not fit with what’s expected. 

List size

Strangely enough, one of the biggest factors that influences your email marketing metrics can be the size of your list. If you have a small list of highly engaged subscribers — maybe they all know you personally — they’re more likely to open your emails, resulting in higher Open Rates. The bigger your list, the less likely it is that any one subscriber will know you, and so the chances of them opening your message will reduce accordingly. You no longer have that direct personal connection, so your OR will drop.

Subject line

The next thing that will most strongly influence your open rates is your subject line. If your subscribers aren’t intrigued enough, they won’t bother to open your email. Sad but true. Ideally, your subject line should look like something you’d use if you were emailing a friend. 

Subject lines can also influence how many of your subscribers actually receive your email in the first place. Avoid spammy subject lines otherwise you’ll be sending your messages straight to spam folders, not to inboxes.

“From” name

After the subject line, the next biggest factor to influence your open rate is the “from” name you use. When you set up your email marketing platform, it’ll ask you to provide the name that will appear in the “from” field of the email. Make sure you provide “who” and “where from” details. Something like “Melissa Breau at Click and Repeat”.  

You need your recipient to recognize that they know, like, and trust you so they’re more likely to open your message. If they have a “who the heck is that?” response your message is highly likely to hit the trash bin faster than you can get a lab to swallow a cookie!

Sending email address

This factor probably has the least influence on you open rates but it’s still worth checking. Ideally your sender email address will be something friendly and easily recognizable. Why? Because some email clients ignore the information you put in your “from” field when you set your email platform, and will only show the sending email address instead. If your email address is something that appears unrelated to your business, people are likely to delete your message without a second look. 

Once you’ve maximized your open rate, you then need to know if your messaging and content is hitting the spot. There’s little point in having your emails opened if your subscribers aren’t acting on any of the calls to action (CTAs) they contain. To find out how effective your content is, you need to examine other metrics.

Email Marketing Metric #2: Click Through Rate (CTR)

Your click through rate is simply the number of emails in which subscribers clicked something within the email. This is expressed as a percentage of the number of emails sent. So, if you sent 200 messages in a newsletter blast and only 20 subscribers clicked a link in one of those emails, your CTR would be 10%. 

That’s not a particularly helpful number as it doesn’t pull apart the factors that influence the opening of the email from the factors that influence action-taking — the effectiveness of your messaging. To get to that information you need to look at your Click to Open Rate (CTOR).

Email Marketing Metric #3: Click to Open Rate (CTOR)

If you want to know how effective your email content is on its own, you need to look at the ratio between the number of emails which were opened against the number of emails in which subscribers clicked on a link.  This is, again, usually expressed as a percentage. Let’s say you send 200 emails. If 60 of those get opened, and of those, 20 have links clicked in them: you have a CTOR of 33%.

To maximize your CTOR there are some best practices you can follow:

Use buttons, not text links

Why? Because text links can get lost in a sea of text. Although your text should be formatted to make it easily scannable, buttons still stand out far better — which promotes action-taking more easily.

Be explicit

For your CTA button text, make sure it’s super clear what you want your reader to do, and what the result will be. “Click here” isn’t specific enough. “Click here to read the post” or “Click here to take the survey” are far better at provoking action.

Less is more

Don’t be tempted to stuff 50 links into your email! When it comes to CTAs, keep it lean — multiple buttons and links, especially for different outcomes, is information overload. And when readers’ brains are fried, the most common result is inaction. 

What now?

By taking a close look at your Open Rates and comparing them to your Click to Open Rates, you can work out where any problems lie. 

High OR but bad CTOR? Your messages are being opened but you need to tweak your message content and CTAs.  

Low OR but great CTOR? Your content and CTAs are great, but your subject lines or “know, like, and trust” indicators (“from” details or email address) are letting you down. Your messages aren’t getting opened frequently, but when they are, they’re being effective. 

With this information it’s easy to see what you need to do to maximize your results from all your hard work. Emails can be super effective but you do need to keep an eye on those important email marketing metrics to maintain a lean, mean, marketing machine!


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