Use email statistics such as your open rate to target messages more effectively and create content that's more interesting and engaging for Knowledge Community members.
Getting your statistics
Statistics for your Knowledge Community (KC) email communications are available by request. This includes your KC email open rate, clickthrough rate, and clicks by URL. KC Advisory Group members can email me at email@example.com to have a breakdown of your analytics by email.
What’s an open rate?
Your email open rate is expressed as a percentage. The 'total open rate' formula is calculated as: emails opened / (emails sent – bounced). Another statistic to consider is the 'unique open rate', which hopes to gauge the number of individual users who opened your email.
Note: these rates are not 100% accurate.
In order to record an 'open', the email service provider (ESP) embeds a 1 pixel x 1 pixel image into your emails. That image sends a message to the server to say, "I (the image) have been downloaded. The email is open!" If for any reason the 1x1 image cannot be downloaded, the 'open' is not recorded.
Reasons the 'open rate' is inaccurate:
Why use open rates?
The 'open rate' can act as a trend-spotter, allowing you to gauge how many of your readers use HTML email and to measure the effectiveness of your subject lines. It's important to realize that as your mailing list size goes up, the 'open rat'e tends to fall.
Bottom line: If you are getting an 'open rate' between 20% and 40%, you are doing fine.
So, how is one to interpret 'open rate' statistics if they are unreliable or buggy metrics? First, it's helpful to accept that your 'open rate' and 'unique open rate' don't actually tell you the exact number of opens.
A common email marketing practice is to use your open rates as a relative metric: How is one campaign fairing as compared to another?
Another trick-of-the-trade is to look at other, more accurate metrics such as your 'clickthrough rate'. The 'clickthrough rate' measures the ...drumroll please... clickthroughs. It stands to reason that in order for someone to click on a link in your email, they had to have opened your email. Looking at your 'clickthrough rate' should give you a sense of which articles and links are of interest to your readers.
It can also be a helpful metric to measure the effectiveness of your graphic elements: Do articles with images get more clicks than those without?
Next post: How to increase your email open rates
Questions? Contact me, Ann Harris, at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a message through AIA KnowledgeNet.
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