Email open rates work very simply – and to be honest, a little too simply to be even close to accurate.

If you haven’t known this yet, we will tell you how tracking is done. The email editor you use will include an image in the email. This will only be a few (or one) pixel wide unnoticeable tracer. The logic follows as this: if the image is downloaded, the email must be opened – therefore if the image is downloaded from the server, you will see that count in your open rate statistics.

You can probably already see why this is a problem.

Email Open Rates Can Be Misleading

Distorted statistics

First of all, some of the most popular platforms are now using settings that allow the automatic display of images. iPhones automatically turn on images, which means you could be receiving data that shows your open rates are higher on Apple devices – but in reality it’s just the automatic function.

There can be no successful email marketing campaign without precise statistics. Distorted numbers lead to conclusions and decisions that may very well damage your efforts to make your emails better.

And while we’re talking about platforms: in many cases you won’t ever know on what platform or in what client was your email truly read.

Most of us have three or four different devices which we read emails on. Home desktop, work desktop, smartphone, laptop and so on.

*Then there is Gmail. *Google’s email client caches images on its own server the first time it is downloaded on a desktop or in their mobile apps. The cached image is the one that is loaded with every subsequent open – and your tracker becomes useless. You won’t ever know the truth.

But let’s say you may somehow be able to accurately track when recipients really open your email and on what device they do so. If you have the most precise open rate statistics in the world it may still be less useful than you might imagine.

That’s because…

You don’t really know what happens after the open

For a spectacular example: if you are using an outdated email editor unlike EDMdesigner and compose your EDMs using a WYSIWYG editor, you may involuntarily include unsupported code or alter your supposedly responsive design.

Users may see graphics that are not loading – or maybe your copy is not good enough. They may bounce off after the open and still your open rate will be high.

What should you look at instead?

Opens may increase, but if you don’t get any more visitors from them, you know that the change is likely mostly distortion. (Or perhaps your subject lines just got much, much better than the contents of your EDM…)

Click-through tells you how many people felt like you offered them something interesting or valuable enough to pay you a visit and click on your CTA.

  • You should create landing pages specifically for those who come to you via your carefully placed CTAs.
  • Add tracking URLs to understand where your traffic is exactly coming from.
  • Conduct A/B tests watching how many people you managed to convince not only to look at your email but to grant you their trust.

Use your responsive email editor to craft emails that are displayed the right way on every device, write great copy and place CTAs strategically. These in themselves will not convince people to open your emails, but they will urge those who do so to convert!

Author
Roland Pokornyik

Roland Pokornyik

CEO / Co-founder @ Chamaileon.io & EDMdesigner.com

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