Most radio stations agree that email marketing to the station’s database is a good idea. And a majority of stations send regular newsletters to their fans. But many times, that’s where the process ends. The next step is to measure email success and take action to improve results.

In this article, I share the primary metrics a radio station should measure and seek to improve. Including: 

  • Click Through Rate
  • Measuring health of email list
  • How to find a newsletter conversion rate.
  • Open and Unsubscribes

How to Measure Email Success

Each member of the marketing team (including PDs) should meet weekly to address broader digital initiatives and plans for promoting and marketing the station brand online.

But once a month, set aside time to evaluate digital performance. This is just as important to marketing as ratings reports are to programming and sales.

The digital manager should review all relevant metrics, including Google Analytics reports, social media performance, streaming numbers, and other data points.

And don’t leave out email marketing.

Email is a powerful channel for radio stations. But as a mentor once taught me: You can’t manage what you can’t measure.

Here are the key things to measure:

Click Throughs

Click through rate is the percentage of each recipient who clicked on a link in an email.

Email marketing goals are usually to drive traffic your website, so this is one of the most important and easiest data points to track. It’s usually a simple click to open an analytics page for each email sent.

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According to Mailchimp, the average Click Through Rate for the Media industry is 4.7%. Track performance and it quickly becomes clear that high profile content and links greatly outperforms other links in an email. But study performance to adjust strategies in building content.

How Healthy Is The Email List?

Stations should constantly work to add new sign ups to the list. Each marketing database is a leaky bucket. Some are exiting (unsubscribing) and need to be replaced.

To calculate email list growth, subtract the number of unsubscribed addresses from the number of new subscribers. Then divide by the total number of people on the email list. This will produce the email growth rate.

Then work on ideas to increase performance. For example:

  • Promote on air with a specific offer.
  • Include sign up forms in more places on website (include pop ups).
  • Offer an incentive for signing up.

Experiment to see what works best, and do those things more!

Conversion Rate

Each station should have specific goals for website visitors. When people come to the site, what do you want them to do? Typical answers include:

  • Stream the station.
  • Enter a contest.
  • Click on an ad.
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The Conversion Rate is the percentage of email recipients who took an action toward one of the goals.

To calculate it, start with the number of goal completions. Divide it by the number of email recipients.

This is a tricky number because it should only count goal completions as a result of an email campaign. For example, somebody may come to the website by clicking on a social media post or hearing a message on the air. That helps reach the goal, but it shouldn’t be credited to email conversion.

To track this accurately, dig deeper into Google Analytics. Set up integrations with your email service provider. It’s worth the effort.

Email vs Website Traffic

How much incoming website traffic is the result of email campaigns?

This number will appear in Google Analytics. This metric will compare email against other incoming traffic sources, including social media, paid search engine traffic, organic search engine traffic, referrals (links from other websites), and direct traffic (when people type your radio station’s URL directly into their browser.

It’s a good idea to keep an eye on this number because it shows how important and effective email is in the overall digital mix.

Open Rate

The Open Rate is fairly standard, but is often misunderstood.

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It is supposed to be the number of recipients who open an email but, for technical reasons isn’t always reliable.

For what it’s worth, Mailchimp reports the average email Open Rate for the Media industry is 22.14%.

Watch the Open Rate for wild fluctuations, but Click Through Rate is a much better measure of how effective email campaigns perform.

Unsubscribe Rate

This is the number of recipients who are opting out of the email list.

Simply divide the number of people who have unsubscribed by the total number of people on the list.

This is not the best measure of email engagement because there are lots of ways for people to ignore email besides unsubscribing, but keep an eye out for sudden increases. That means you’ve done something to annoy your recipients and you don’t want to repeat the mistake.

According to Mailchimp, the average Unsubscribe Rate for the Media industry is 0.12%.


Be careful to avoid emphasizing any one metric over another. It’s easy to assume that just because you can quantify something, it’s meaningful. That isn’t always the case.

Measuring email success starts with having goals. Follow that with tracking performance and you’ll soon have a growing and more successful department.