Email's No. 1 Misunderstood Metric
And like response rates in direct mail, open rates will vary widely from marketer to marketer even within the same industries based on many variables, such as how the list was built, how much email the firm sends, the types of messages it sends and the types of offers.
Nonetheless industry benchmarks can serve to manage expectations.
Where an email program's open rate can really be useful, though, is when it changes.
If it's going up, it means the sender is doing something right and recipients are getting more engaged with the brand.
If it's plummeting, it means the marketer has probably begun doing something wrong. For example, maybe the marketer just added purchased names to the file-a big no-no-and email inbox providers have begun treating the marketer's messages as spam.
Also, if opens begin plummeting in addresses managed by a specific ISP, say, Gmail, it means something has happened on Gmail's end that needs to be investigated.
The open rate can be quite useful. But it needs to be understood, first.
If there’s one word that most aptly describes Ken Magill’s coverage of online marketing, it’s fearless. For more than a decade, Magill has built a reputation for calling it like he sees it no matter who may get offended. Some marketers read his column just to make sure they’re not in it. In a trade-publishing market populated mostly by vendor representatives who must watch what they say, Magill stands out as the one guy who says what he thinks. Moreover, he often writes what others are thinking, but are afraid to say. He can even be very funny.
Having been a direct marketer, and having covered online marketing since 1997 for DM News, Direct, Chief Marketer and Multichannel Merchant magazines, Magill offers a unique, informed perspective on the evolution of digital selling. He was also founding editor of trade weekly iMarketing News and Magilla Marketing, a newsletter dedicated to e-mail.
He is currently founding editor of the recently launched trade weekly email newsletter The Magill Report.