Why email open rates just don’t matter anymore

Many marketers still believe that email open rates are a worthy metric to measure your marketing on. After all, it’s a key indicator of the percentage of email recipients who opened your emails out of how many were delivered. However, open rates don’t tell you if your email content was successful in driving prospects towards your website.

Let’s face it, email marketing works as a form of click bait. The aim of any successful email campaign should be to drive traffic towards your website or download an asset you’ve created. This way, you can see which content is working and you can start tracking what web visitors are interested in (providing you are using a lead generation tool). Therefore, it is actually email click-through rates which are becoming the leading metric on which to measure your email marketing.

To measure your click-through rates, take the total number of email clicks and divide it by the number of delivered emails. Times by 100 and you have the percentage of email recipients who clicked on links in that email campaign. Hey presto, you now know which of your emails are engaging with your target audience.

Of course, if you don’t include links in your email and you’re more inclined to pack an email full of information, for example, a typical customer newsletter, then you won’t be able to measure click-through rates. You will, instead, have to rely on the old method of measuring your email marketing success on the open rate alone. Which – really – only tells you how successful your subject line and preview header were.

This ‘newsletter’ method of email marketing is evolving. Now, emails are becoming shorter. They are being used as a driver to get prospects and customers to go through to a landing page. With emails only having seconds to survive in the inbox, it’s more important than ever that your email gets to the point. After that, you must consider what you want to achieve with your email campaign.

Are you just interested in website traffic or is the goal to get email contacts to download an asset, fill out a form…etc.? Those who are already reporting on click-through rates know that the true measure of success then lies in the conversion rate. How many email recipients who clicked on the email actually went on to complete the call to action that was asked of them?

Quality clicks over quantity will always be more important because they will determine the amount of qualified leads for sales. After all, that is the point of email marketing is it not? To provide your sales team with quality prospects.

Email engagement is good, but it alone does not determine the success of an email marketing campaign. Where your engaged audience is going on your website or what they are doing with your content is far more important. Not only to qualify leads for sales but also to determine which parts of your marketing are drawing in the right quality leads. What topics you should be focusing on, what stages of the buying journey need more nurturing with content…etc.

Overall, we can see that email marketing is changing. It’s becoming a driver for lead generation. In order to measure its success in this area, marketers can no longer rely on open rates alone to tell them what is working.


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