Many people quite understandably are confused about their open rate statistics in their e-mail marketing campaigns. Understanding what this content you will greatly assist you in achieving improved open rates for your future campaigns.
Any reputable e-mail marketing system, such as we use with Business Catalyst, or other systems such as MailChimp and iContact, will provide you with a range of statistics about your e-mail campaigns.
Two that cause considerable confusion are:
Total Opens - this is the total number of times your e-mail is opened by anyone. If you sent it to 20 people of which 10 opened it and 4 of those opened
it twice than the total opens equals 10 + 4 = 14.
Unique Opens - this is the number of unique people who open your e-mail and does not concern itself with how often they opened. In the above case,
unique opens equals 10.
How Are E-Mail Opens Tracked
Because of the lack of standardisation across all different e-mail systems, the mechanism for tracking how often your e-mail is opened is rather simple.
A very small and invisible graphic image measuring just one pixel square is embedded in the e-mail. Code on the mail servers is able to determine how often
this image is downloaded from the server to be viewed within your e-mail.All very straight forward actually.
The Issue With The Simplicity Of Tracking E-Mail Opens
Whilst it may appear simple and straightforward this is also what makes the results you get quite deceptive and inaccurate. Why would that be? For reasons
below we can't rely specifically on the numbers given.
E-mail clients set to not display images - in many clients you can disable display of images. If this is the case tracking image is not display and
therefore the e-mail open is not counted
E-mails are opened as text only - some clients view e-mails as text only and therefore the tracking image again is not displayed nor counted in your
Preview e-mail gets multiple opens - if you preview your e-mail such as in Outlook or Yahoo, then the tracking image will be displayed on your open
count is increment. This is why you see some people opening your e-mail a dozen times. In reality these are probably previews and they only actually
open the e-mail to read once.
Forwarded e-mails - these can produce a slightly different issue depending on how they are forward. Whilst they will be treated as a separate unique
open, if you are tracking how many times a particular person opens an e-mail, the person to whom it was poured may be treated as the original recipient.
So How Can You Make Use Of Open Rates
the first thing to remember is that the rates in themselves are of limited value. Comparing rates to previous campaigns or other e-mail marketing Systems
is however perfectly valid and encouraged.
The second thing is that you should be primarily looking at the unique open rate not the overall rate. What you should look at is the unique open rate
Ratio = Unique opens / Total No recipients
What Constitutes A Good Open Rate Ratio
The question that is on everybody's lips and unfortunately there is no hard and fast rule to be followed. As you establish credibility with your mail list
and subject to the quality of your newsletters your rates will vary. Ideally your rate should improve/increase as time goes by.
As a general rule of thumb, a 20% unique open rate ratio is considered a good start.
Written by: Greg Tomkins