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Do Open Rates Really Matter?

January 3, 2009

Tracking the results of your marketing emails makes good sense. You can find out which marketing tactics work best, and which fail to register with your intended customers. Tracking email results can also help you determine the audience that shows the most interest in your products or services.

However, in order to benefit from tracking your marketing results, you need to know how to properly interpret the numbers. A common misinterpretation is to view the open rate as an indication of a mailing’s success. As a result, declining open rates may appear to be more of a problem than they actually are.

Consider Your Goals

In reality, open rates fail to gauge the success of a marketing campaign. Before you label your marketing attempts a complete failure, consider what your marketing goals truly are. Are you trying to get recipients to simply read your email? Or act on it? A high open rate doesn’t do you any good if your messages are simply deleted afterward. If a recipient opens your email, but doesn’t click on the links or pursue your offer, then you are no closer to a sale than if they didn’t open the email at all.

The Difference between Open Rates and Click Rates

Remember that the purpose of your email is to market your product or services, not to entertain. You need more than just readership – you need results. Open rates are misleading, because you don’t know how quickly your “readers” are deleting your emails after opening them.

Even if your emails do get read, a strong readership doesn’t necessarily translate into strong sales. If your readers don’t click on the links you provide or take you up on your offer, you are no better off than if they had simply deleted the email without reading it. On the other hand, click rates and responses demonstrate how effective the email was at generating the desired response.

Why Click Rates are More Important

You might be thinking, “But my emails have to be opened before they can be acted on.” While the reasoning is correct, keep in mind that email software is constantly trying to outsmart marketers.

Recently, software such as Microsoft Outlook has started blocking the pictures contained in email messages. Because open rates count the number of times a specific image is accessed, when email software blocks the image the source fails to register another opened email. Ultimately, open rates are a poor indicator of success, because you simply don’t know whether the numbers are accurate or not.

On the other hand, click rates and response rates show how many readers are taking action as a result of your message. Because sophisticated email programs have rendered open rates virtually useless, you will need to depend on click rates as the more accurate indication of how successful your marketing campaigns are. If your response rates remain strong, then you can assume that your emails are still getting read.

Look at the Bigger Picture

Ultimately, open rates are fast becoming an antiquated way of gauging the success of an email campaign. With the increasing frequency of blocked image, emails often don’t register as having been opened, even when they have been. You may even be generating sales from those very same emails. Therefore, if you notice a significant drop in your open rates don’t get discouraged – look to your response rates for the answer.

If you would like any further information, please email [email protected] or call 0161 817 2929

Posted by Simon Hill

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