click-rate-blog-imageIn e-mail marketing, there are two pieces of data that are commonly used to evaluate success; the open rate and the click-through rate. A common misconception is that the open rate is a good indicator of response, and it is if your open rate is being tracked reliably. Unfortunately it’s becoming harder and harder to accurately track the open-rate.

When you consider that the margin of error for the open rate can range anywhere from 11% – 35%, it’s hard to understand how the open rate provides any real value for determining success.

Why is the open rate so unreliable?

In order to understand why the open rate isn’t a reliable metric, we first need to understand how it’s calculated. Open rates are typically tracked using a transparent 1×1 pixel image embedded in outgoing e-mails. The e-mail client or browser used to display the message requests the image and an “open” is recorded by the sender.

The e-mail is not counted as an open until the following occurs:

  • The e-mail recipient enables the images in the e-mail, or
  • The recipient interacts with the e-mail by clicking a link

Lets assume that the recipient has images enabled or is using a mail client that loads images automatically. If the recipient has a preview pane that displays images, the e-mail will show as having been opened whether or not the user ever actually looked at the e-mail. Remember that most e-mail applications require clicking on a message in order to delete it.

Experts do disagree on the validity of open rates and there are many articles that attempt to gauge what a good open rate is. Most agree a good open rate to be around 25%. Is that enough to determine success? I would argue no.

Trust your click-through rate as the best indicator of response

The most important statistic, in my view, is the click-through rate. In an e-mail that has a proper call to action, the click-through rate is the only true measure of response you can accurately rely on. A click-through tells marketers that the recipient clicked a link inside the e-mail.

Response is one thing, conversion is the goal. At V2Works, we’ve created our own tracking application that calculates success beyond the click-through rate. By accurately calculating touch points on the web, VCARE Tracking provides an accurate picture of customer conversion by tracking the path from e-mail to fulfillment and calculating the conversion rate on-the-fly, even collecting responder data as qualified leads.

By calculating response rate, conversion rate and the cost per lead/click, we are able to accurately measure the success of e-mail marketing campaigns with a margin of error less than 0.5%.

For more information about VCARE Tracking and how you can start creating e-mail marketing campaigns that provide better metrics, e-mail for a free demonstration.