Every great marketing email needs a great success metric, and if you measure success using the open rate, you need a new metric. Simply put, the open rate is an outdated and unreliable metric.
Opened does not equal read
Email open rates are unreliable, at best. An email is considered “opened” when the receiver clicks on your email to open it. However, an email open can only be tracked when the internet service provider sees that the image pixel is downloaded. If images are blocked by your recipient’s email provider or a text-only version of the email is opened, your email will show as unopened. Additionally, if your email runs through a spam filter, the filter will scan the email to make sure the email is safe, resulting in an “open” before the receiver even sees the email in their inbox.
Even if an email is “opened” that does not mean the recipient actually ready it. Some users (myself included) open emails simply to keep their inbox clean of unreads or, worse, to unsubscribe from them.
As a data-driven marketer, bad data is worse than no data at all.
Open rates do not equal conversions
Let’s assume all emails are opened and read. Now what? An opened email alone does not equal conversions. If the overall goal of your email is to increase sales or leads, an open rate isn’t a direct correlation to the conversion rate. For example, let’s say you send 100 people an invite to a webinar. Even if everyone opens that email, they still need to sign up for the webinar before you can call that email a success. In short, (assuming your open rate is accurate) it only indicates that you wrote a compelling subject line.
An email’s success should be measured by the recipient taking the action it was intended to drive, not the performance of the subject line.
What about CTR?
A click is typically the best indicator of an email’s success. Your click-through rate (CTR) will tell you how well your message and call to action (CTA) resonates with your audience. Keeping with the webinar email example, a great open rate doesn’t mean much if your registration count is low. A click on the registration link will show who is reading your emails all the way through, and who is interested in the content you’re providing.
So, how should I report on email performance with spam filters and the release of iOS15?
Conversion and click-through rate.
For example, if your webinar invitation email was sent to 100 recipients, 50 unique recipients clicked the registration link, and 20 submitted the registration form, your email success metrics would be…
20% conversion > 20/100 = 20% registered
50% CTR > 50/100 = 50% click-through rate
If you’ve been using the same marketing automation platform for a while, you can historically pull these metrics to replace your reports showing opens and clicks and wow your leadership team with this more value-driven approach to reporting!