The Metrics You Need to Measure Marketing Automation Effectiveness

Marketing automation is the automation of repetitive tasks across channels and is used by many organizations today. Whether non-profit or commercial, marketing automation can be effective regardless of size. For nonprofits, email marketing automation can provide deep customization and personalization while saving crucial staff time.

However, there’s one small catch. You don’t want to ‘set and forget’ as easy as it would be. Like any email campaign, these require close monitoring. Without keeping an eye on the progress of your email marketing efforts, you risk losing opportunity and/or investment. The best place to start is knowing the right metrics to track.

Measuring marketing automation metrics is an issue for most. Studies show that about 50% of people using marketing automation find measuring its effectiveness a challenge.

In this post, we’ll explore the marketing automation metrics that can make your life easier. Deciding how and when to tweak that email marketing campaign is about to get more comfortable. But first, let’s start with a look at why an effective marketing automation system is critical.

The Benefits of Email Marketing Automation

Imagine designing an email campaign, planning it out, coding and scheduling all the emails. You’re probably already doing that. Now, imagine that same campaign, but for each response (or lack thereof) to an email, a different email is triggered automatically. With email marketing automation, you can build anything from a basic welcome series to an intricate journey, compelling supporters to take action on an array of issues and based on behavioral data.

Email marketing automation can offer many benefits, including:

Time Savings

For those looking to channel valuable time into other projects, marketing automation can be an enormous time savings. With it, you can schedule your email marketing efforts ahead of time and to different target audiences. This leaves time open to perform other tasks.

Enhanced Productivity

Organizational time savings can boost productivity levels. More time means your marketing or fundraising team suddenly has the time to brainstorm other ideas. They can apply their creativity to varying key areas while still retaining efficiency.


Creating a custom experience for every supporter is key to a good ROI (Return On Investment). Marketing automation allows you to do this.

For instance, with email marketing automation, it is possible to send out emails based on user engagement levels. This way, you can increase engagement and boost conversion.

In Engaging Networks’ marketing automation tools, you can build custom profiles for your automation journeys that allow you to target specific interest groups, donors and many other segments. The sky’s the limit.

The One Voice Effect

Marketing automation offers the coveted omnichannel experience to your customers. This means that whether you are marketing to them via email, SMS or social media, the tone and voice remains the same.

Metrics to Track Email Marketing Automation

Like any email campaign, tracking activity metrics like send numbers, opens and unsubscribes are the foundation. You’ll want to establish a plan to monitor these in your email marketing automation tools – which can be much more complicated. Workflows in marketing automation can range from 3 to upwards of 150 messages, so focus on the plan. In addition to quantitative data you’ll want to monitor qualitative data as well (ideally your eCRM will help in this type of reporting). Here are some basics to monitor.

Number of Emails Sent

For nonprofit email marketing, this is a vital metric. Effective email marketing automation is more comprehensive than sending out emails the old way. This simple metric shows that marketing automation is working. Match your deliveries to your estimated send lists and make sure the numbers are what you expect. If they’re not, evaluate your program for errors or possible email deliverability problems.

What’s email deliverability? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Email Deliverability to learn more.

Monitor Behavioral Triggers

Supporter behavior is a crucial metric to track as it’s what drives your email marketing automation campaign. Ideally your eCRM will provide good metrics and reporting to help with this, but the analysis can be largely observation as well. Are people responding the way you expected? Or, are they all choosing the ‘other’ option or not interacting with your email? Supporter behavior can be very telling and may mean you need to tweak copy or asks to change your outcomes.

The Response Metrics

Okay, your activity metrics point to the practical use of marketing automation. The logical next step is to find out if it’s working. This is where you need to consider the response metrics.

These metrics will show you whether your nonprofit email marketing efforts are resonating with the audience and answer the question of audience engagement levels.

The following measurements show automation effectiveness in terms of audience response:

Click-Through and Open Rates

These metrics are indicators of whether crucial parts of your emails are performing. If people are not opening the emails, perhaps you need to make adjustments to your subject lines.

If they’re not clicking, maybe it’s the email copy that needs an upgrade. The open rates and click-through rates (CTR) will show you!

Site Traffic

With email conversions come an upgrade in web traffic. This stat is vital if you’re trying to direct recipients to a particular web page. Analyzing your site traffic to know what percentage comes from email can help you measure effectiveness. Is your eCRM integrated with your Google Analytics?


Depending on the goal of your campaign, conversions may be significant. A conversion is when someone successfully completes a desired action like making a donation or updating their recurring gift. So the question is, are people converting? Are they taking the desired actions? If not, again, you may need to make some changes.


Any email marketing comes with the risk of unsubscribes. But… email marketing automation often tends to deliver more messages. While those messages may carry unique content to specific segments who are interested, this is still an important metric to monitor. If you see unsubscribes spike, pause and consider why. Is it your message? Is it the quantity of emails? Is it your segmentation? If you haven’t done it already, configure an email preference center and make some changes to your unsubscribe page to reduce attrition.

Revenue Generated

It’s tempting to make this the end-all of measuring effectiveness, but don’t. For every dollar raised, you could have another if someone else also opened your email, clicked and completed a donation.

This is also your best metric for proving the ROI on your email marketing automation. Consider how you can calculate that figure after your campaign has run awhile. This can help you make the case for additional budget and future enhancements.

Wrapping it up

Because the nature of marketing automation feels set and forget (you put a LOT of work into setting it up and then it just runs) it’s easy not to monitor. Always remember that each optimization can create more revenue for your organization. Unlike traditional email marketing, you have ongoing opportunities to monitor and adjust these campaigns to provide the best outcome. If you’re curious about getting started with marketing automation for your organization, take our marketing automation healthcheck quiz.

An eCRM that provides top notch marketing automation tools that make all of this easy for you is essential. Engaging Networks give you the ability to create workflows and monitor each emails performance to help you reach your goals. Watch this quick video to learn more and let us know if you’d like to speak to a team member about our tools.

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Chloe Green is a copywriter and digital campaigner with almost a decade of experience in the charity and political sectors. She’s delivered campaigns, copy and consultancy for a raft of good eggs including Anthony Nolan, the National Union of Students, St Mungo’s, and Hillary for America. She was Social Media Manager at the Labour Party between 2016–2019 and now she’s Head of Creative with the lovely team at Forward Action. She leads on fundraising emails, UX copy, and all creative facilitation. She’s an expert in email list growth, digital strategy, organic and paid-for social media, and digital mobilisation.

Rachel founded the specialist charity web agency, Rechord, in 1999. Between 1999 and 2012 they created hundreds of different web applications for organisations in the UK and internationally.
In 2013 she became the 'Donor Whisperer' and focused on helping small to medium-sized non-profits to reach new donors and activists and from there increase their income. She uses a unique process that combines the benefits of consultancy with capacity building.
Her clients include Traidcraft Exchange, the Overseas Development Institute, Jubilee Debt Coalition, the Leprosy Mission of England and Wales, Tax Justice UK, The Canary, Humanity and Inclusion, the Anti-Tribalism Movement, BRACE, New Family Social, Arseh Sevom - and that's just the last year.
She also feels weird writing about herself in the third person.

Ellen is Campaigns Manager overseeing national and local campaigning at the MS Society. She has worked at the MS Society for 2 and a half years, with roles at Scope and Guide Dogs prior to this.

Hannah is Senior Campaigns Officer at the MS Society, working on their local campaigning programme, Local Action for MS and also on social care and carers. She’s worked at the MS Society for a year and a half, and was previously at the MND Association and National Voices.

Executive Director of C6 Digital, London based agency

Ellen is Campaigns Manager overseeing national and local campaigning at the MS Society. She has worked at the MS Society for 2 and a half years, with roles at Scope and Guide Dogs prior to this.

Ellen is Campaigns Manager overseeing national and local campaigning at the MS Society. She has worked at the MS Society for 2 and a half years, with roles at Scope and Guide Dogs prior to this.

Having gotten his start organizing with anti-war veterans and working as Sala Labs, Sales Engineer, and Partner Manager, Bryan now brings his expertise to non-profit and mission-driven clients as 4Site Studios Director of Digital Strategy. Specializing in challenging and complex projects, Bryan works with each client to craft holistic approaches tailored to goals, budget, and outcomes.

Mary Margaret Callahan is the Chief Mission Officer for Pet Partners, where she is responsible for leading mission delivery including the therapy animal program and grassroots advocacy program. She joined Pet Partners in 2013 and has worked to establish the organization as both an influencer and a resource within the animal-assisted intervention (AAI) and human-animal bond (HAB) community. In 2018 she was named one of PetAge Magazine’s Women of Influence. Mary Margaret lives on a small farm outside Seattle with her husband, daughter and menagerie of animals including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, chickens, goats and miniature donkeys.

Joe Derry Hall is a freelancer working on creative digital and communications. His interests include tech innovation, upending power and reimagining different futures. Joe has been the winner of a Mozilla Creative Media Award and the joint winner of a BAFTA digital award. He was previously in-house in campaigning and communications roles at Amnesty International, the Climate Coalition, the Ecocide campaign, Save the Children, Scope and others. He is one of the initiators of Right Way Up, an experiment to create a radical, practical new vision for the social change sector.

Anna Chowcat is the Digital Manager at Refuge and oversees the charity’s digital function and output. Since joining Refuge, Anna has been instrumental in introducing a number of digital engagement programmes including digital campaigns, bespoke email supporter journeys and user friendly donate/campaign pages. Before joining Refuge, she has worked in digital engagement and campaign roles at The Labour Party and Leonard Cheshire Disability.