Email Open Rates: Back To Basics

Old fashioned ruler

Image courtesy of Mad House Photography via Flickr

Are you always wondering whether your email open rates are high enough?

It seems to be the one area that I’m constantly asked about..

      What is the average open rate?
      Is my open rate good?
      It is high enough to achieve the results my boss wants?


Vanity metrics?

Open rates are too often considered the most important metric when judging the success of an email campaign.

As Einstein once said:

But you don’t have to be Einstein to know that every business is unique, so why attempt to benchmark your email campaigns against the results other brands are seeing?

Work backwards from your objectives

Instead, take a step back and look at the process in reverse order, starting with your overall campaign objective and then deciding how to link it back to open rates.

Sit down with your department and your boss over a cup of tea and agree what you realistically want to get out of your campaigns. Whether it’s sales leads, direct revenue, website traffic, data collection or simply staying in touch to maintain or gain loyalty, making this clear will help give you focus.

After you have decided on the end goal, you should be able to decide what other metrics are important in addition to open rates. For example, you might measure click throughs to the site for traffic, social media traffic for loyalty, or direct enquiries for sales.

So once you have a clear focus on what you want to achieve, stick it on a post it note and keep referring back to it! You can then benchmark your campaigns on your own results rather than relying on other businesses to act as a guide.

Clearer goals make life easier

As soon as you know how you want your recipients to engage with your campaign, it is much easier to work out how to steer them through email design, call to action, subject line, personalisation and data use.

You won’t get it right the first time but this is why we recommend the use of split testing on campaign elements. Through testing you will not only know what increases your results and open rates, but you will learn more about your client base and will know how to achieve your marketing aims across all channels.

So it’s time to ask a different question. Don’t focus solely on open rates and you’ll find you have a much more compelling story to tell your boss about the effectiveness of email marketing.

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