2 big reasons why email open rates are meaningless and 3 things you should track instead

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Greg Warner is CEO and Founder of MarketSmart, a revolutionary marketing software and services firm that helps nonprofits raise more for less. In 2012 Greg coined the phrase “Engagement Fundraising” to encapsulate his breakthrough fundraising formula for achieving extraordinary results. Using their own innovative strategies and technologies, MarketSmart helps fundraisers around the world zero in on the donors most ready to support their organizations and institutions with major and legacy gifts.

2 big reasons why email open rates are meaningless and 3 things you should track insteadThis drives me crazy.
I keep hearing so-called planned giving experts congratulate themselves for getting phenomenal open rates from their e-blasts even though email open rates don’t matter whatsoever.
 
Here are 2 huge reasons why email open rates are meaningless.

  1. The technology used to track an “open” uses an HTML IMG tag embedded in the outgoing emails. This is a tiny, transparent tracking image that tries to determine when a person’s email browser displays the email. Problem is, this reporting mechanism has no idea whether or not a human actually opened the message. Many browsers these days open messages automatically. Outlook, for instance, has a preview pane that records emails as “opened.”
  2. This reporting mechanism has no idea whatsoever if an opened message (by the browser or a human) was actually seen or read by the target/prospect.

 
The only reason to consider looking at open rates.
There’s really only one way to use open rates and that’s to compare two emails that are identical in every respect but have different subject lines. Then, if one garners a higher open rate, you’ll know that that subject line caused the increase.
 
So what should you track? 
Next time a vendor tries to tell you about their open rates, ask them to give you stats on the true measures of success. They are:

  1. Clicks
  2. Engagement online and offline as a result of the blast (time on site, number of pages visited, inbound phone calls/emails, etc.)
  3. Conversions (forms filled, downloads, video views, donations, etc.)

 

Related Posts

>> 4 Email Metrics That Matter Most for Major and Legacy Gifts Marketing
>> 8 Great Ways to End Your Emails or Letters
 

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