Email Open Rates Do Not Equal Engagement

Why am I such a Debbie Downer?? You think… “Look at my open rate, this email is doing great! I’m beating the industry standard!”. Wrong…well maybe. Let me explain.

Email open rates is one of the most popular metrics that business owners and marketers use to measure success. 

When you view most reports for how emails are delivered, the first statistics you will see is the percentage of people that you sent your email to alongside the number of people that opened it. It’s like they want us to rely solely on this number. 

To start, let’s do a quick exploration of how email opens are tracked. According to Wikipedia (I know, great source!), “Open rates are typically tracked using a transparent 1×1 pixel, or small transparent tracking image, that is embedded in outgoing emails. When the client or browser used to display the email requests that image, then an “open” is recorded for that email by the image’s host server.” So if that condition is not met, then the email may not be counted as opened, even if a user opened and read your entire email. 

Here’s a quick example, I use Outlook. By default, images do not download automatically. So, if I read an email and choose not to download the images, that message may not show up in the open rate statistics. 

What’s the alternative?  I don’t know if that’s enough to change your mind, but hopefully it’s enough to get you noodling. However, I don’t want to leave you simply disappointed because what you have come to rely on doesn’t really work. So, I have a suggestion and it may require a change in behavior. 

But first, one more thing about open rates? How often have you scrolled through your emails, opening them, but not really reading them? **Sidenote: I’m a zero unopened email kinda gal – gotta open and respond right away.** In short, open rates do not measure consumption of your message.  How do you even know that your email resonated with someone? 

That’s where the Call to Action comes in. Get in the habit of providing some sort of call to action in every message you send out, or at least the ones you really care about. Ask a question, or ask them to do something and give them a way to respond or engage. You may not see overnight success, but over time, your readers will come to expect it and you will get a better sense of who is engaging and liking what you have to say.

Like what I have to say? Share this post and leave a comment below. Thanks!

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