Last week a restaurant marketer friend of mine emailed and wondered about email marketing open rates. More specifically, whether or not the open rate of an email campaign should be tracked as an important KPI for their marketing department.
My initial thought was “Of course!”, but then I went for a coffee and thought a bit. Is it really that important these days? What does that number tell us? Is it even accurate?
Here is what I responded to her question. Are you tracking open rate as a Very Important Metric at your job? Do you feel it is correlating with the business you pull in?
Please leave your thoughts and tips in the comment section! :)
RE: Should we focus on conversion rates when it comes to email marketing?
Email Open Rate is definitely a metric that should be tracked when you do email marketing. It shows you a few important things (not always easy to suss out which one is most dominating, depends on the situation and knowledge of your database):
- That you don’t get too many emails caught in spam filters: among other things the quality of your copy, and the design of your email impacts this.
- The strength of your subject lines: a good subject line that resonates with your target audience gets more opened emails.
- The timing of sending your emails: timing the mailout right gets you more opened emails.
- The quality of your database: if you have many dead emails, open rate will obviously be lower (there are other indicators of database quality as well, like how many emails bounce back as the address no longer exists…).
That said, it isn’t the most important metric in my opinion. Tracking opened emails is done by inserting an image in the email and simply counting how many times the image has been downloaded from your server. However, some email clients don’t download images! GMail’s default behaviour is to not download images for example (unless I specifically ask it to, which I often don’t), various mobile email clients don’t download images so save bandwidth and so on.
Even if the image has been downloaded, it may have been so only because the recipient had an automatic preview on, or opened the email and immediately deleted it. Opening an email does’t necessarily mean it was read… So don’t take the open rate number as an absolute truth!
As a slight side note this is why the design of your email campaign templates should be primarily text based, with images only to enhance the look and impact of the message. In that way, even if I don’t download any images I can still see the main message you wanted to get across.
There are still so many restaurants sending one massive image with all information in it (even if it is just text), or an attached PDF. I don’t know which is worse, but it will quickly get people to ignore them, that’s for sure.
What is perhaps more important to look at, to be able to know if you are getting the value back on your investment, is:
- Clicks on links (and which links): is your email able to get the recipients’ attention to such an extent that they click through to your website? Are they clicking through on the links you want them to (where you try to get them to come to the restaurant / buy / book / sign up for something)?
- Actual conversion: how many recipients performed the action you wanted them to? If you sent out a special offer, how many actually booked and dined in the restaurant? Not always easy to track (people may phone as a result of your email, or forward your email to a friend who then walks into the restaurant at a later date for example), but the only real measure of how much money you made from your email.
There. That’s my basic opinion. Hope it helps and makes sense. :)