It may sound too simple to even be worth mentioning, but the point of sending an email campaign is to reach customers that open the message. With all of the planning and creating that goes into a campaign, this simple reminder often gets lost in the mix. A successful email campaign is one that prompts its recipients to open the message and engage with the content.

Well, yes, but that’s really only half the battle.

Open rates are important to the deliverability and overall success of your email. But in terms of importance, the only thing more critical to email marketing success is the conversion. Well-planned and creative email campaigns attract business by creating content that leads the receiver to at least seriously think about making a purchase. These two important measures of email marketability are measured through two metrics: the open rate, and the click-through rate. When analyzing the performance of your various campaigns, you’ll want to pay attention to these two numbers.

What Are They Good For?

[Open Rates] are the simplest way to get an instant read on customer satisfaction or (hopefully not) dissatisfaction with an email campaign. These numbers give you a direct look at the percentage and rate of recipients in a given campaign that actually take a directed action and click to open your email. Essentially, this is a good measure of how many people can be considered interested in your content. If you find that you have a segment or section of prospects that consistently have little to no interest in your content, it’s probably time to purge them from your lists and update your recipients.

Your open rates often reflect the work of your pre-message efforts, such as the time and date of sending, the subject line, and your preheader text. As you adjust these facets of your email, pay attention to the open rates for a look at what’s working and what’s not. The subject lines and preheader text are both good opportunities to market your message by using language that’s informational, punny, or promotional and discount-driven. The numbers don’t lie; the higher the open rate, the more that the email as a whole is appealing to a larger segment of your list.

[Click-Through Rates] are a direct measure of how well your content engaged viewers to progress through your message, with a full click-through meaning that a viewer has navigated through your email and seen all content. Though click-through rates are always going to be lower than open rates, they’re important to keep track of because they’re a good indicator of how well your message got viewers to stick around and hang out!

Many marketers look primarily at this number when performing A/B tests, as these tests are frequently designed to get more clicks and email conversions. In general, these are useful for you to measure offerings, media, and calls-to-action from campaign to campaign. Over the long term, these rates can help you make major decisions about your internet marketing strategy and plans.

What They Don’t Show

Though these numbers can reveal a lot of very valuable information, they can’t tell you everything you need to know. Even if both your open and click-through rates are rising, it doesn’t mean your strategy is automatically foolproof. Keeping tabs on numbers across the board will give you the most holistic and accurate view of the performance of your email marketing directives.

In addition to open and click-through rates, don’t forget to monitor your unsubscribe rates. Generally, if the unsubscribe rate for emails across your campaign is higher than two percent, it may be time to rethink your strategy on how many emails you’re sending. You never want to overload your customers; if recipients feel bombarded and can’t distinguish between meaningful content and spam, you’ve identified a major problem. However, unsubscribe rates can be misleading, because many customers who receive emails will simply just stop opening and clicking without actually going through the formal unsubscribe process. On the flip, the same can be said for open rates; some recipients will open the email without clicking through it, even just to mark it as “read.” Open and click rates help determine both initial and prolonged engagement from your recipient base, and serve as strong indicators for the health of your email marketing campaigns in the short and long term.

These numbers also don’t express any sort of specific dissatisfactions with an email. While open rates are a good clue into how your emails are being received, they don’t show customers reactions to specific pieces of content. The best way to measure a particularly drastic reaction to an email is to monitor for spikes in your unsubscribe rates, and analyze the email preceding the jump. As a general note, open and click rates aren’t held to be one hundred percent accurate. Sometimes, users will click or scroll through content just to get it to go away; obviously, these situations don’t reflect legitimate interest, but count just the same as any other click-through in the total count. With no way to distinguish in situations like this, these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt.

If you’re seeing great returns on your email strategy despite lower than ‘industry average’ open and click rates, maybe just keep doing what you’re doing. Different ideas work for different people! Just remember to watch your conversions; as the engine that ultimately drives the sale, if your conversion rate is steady or rising, you’re on a path to ecommerce success.

Let ahoy! help make sense of the numbers and build your campaign. Start here.