How to Track Email Effectiveness

by Karen J. Marchetti

How are you tracking email effectiveness?

Are you relying on “open rate” (the number of times graphics are requested from your email server) to indicate how many recipients actually opened your email?

Open Rate Doesn’t Reflect Recipient Views of Your Email Message

“Open rate” has numerous problems, including:

1.  All recipients viewing email within a preview pane (now estimated to be at least 70% of all email addresses) count as “opens” whether those recipients ever view your email or not. Some of those recipients might scroll to view your email within the preview pane — but for everyone who doesn’t scroll down, they still count as an “open.”

2.  All recipients viewing email with images blocked will never count as an “open”, even if they repeatedly “open” your email. That’s because “open” only counts when graphics are pulled from the server; with graphics blocked, no “open” registers.

3.  All recipients viewing email on a mobile device that receives only text messages will also never count as an “open”.

Open Rate Can Be Useful — If You Understand its Limitations

ExactTarget has reported that 88% of clicks it tracked resulted from emails ExactTarget was able to classify as “opened.”   That means there’s at least a 12% error rate with the “open rate” statistic.

It may still be worth tracking, just to view overall trends in your “open rate.”

Click-Throughs Track Email Engagement

By tracking clicks on each link, and by tracking the individual clicking each link within your email, you can:

1.  Identify the best placement within your email for links

2.  Identify the topics, offers, and products of most interest to your recipients

3.  Track by each name in your database those offers, topics or products they have clicked on in the past, to further customize future email messages, and potentially, future web visits