Measuring the effectiveness of an email campaign usually involves looking at the open rate. The open rate is the proportion of all recipients who opened your email so that they could read your campaign. There are various industry benchmarks in regards to open rates; for example a charity can expect to get about a 26% open rate and a travel agent about 23%.
How Mailchimp measures open rates
In Mailchimp reports it is common to see that a subscriber has opened a campaign multiple times. Unfortunately this doesn’t mean that the contact has really opened your email message more than once. Open rates are a “best guess” at best due to limitations in the technology of email.
Because open rate tracking relies on images, it isn’t 100% accurate. Mailchimp
Mailchimp adds a tiny transparent image to each campaign that is sent. When that image is downloaded from Mailchimp to the email campaign recipient then Mailchimp counts that as an open. This of course is a rudimentary and not altogether reliable way of determining open rates; for example if an email reader doesn’t download images then the open won’t be counted. In addition if an email reader downloads the image without the messages being opened then an open will be recorded even if the recipient hasn’t seen your message.
Open rates are best considered in comparison to your past campaigns; if your open rates are improving that is a good sign.
How to improve open rates
In my Mailchimp training and consulting I get to work with organisations in improving their open rates. From my experience the three biggest factors in improving open rates are:
- Quality subscribers: If you buy a list of email addresses and send to those people your open rates will be terrible. Conversely, if your subscribers are genuinely interested in what you have to say then your open rates will be good.
- A relevant subject line: Your subject line should be just a few words describing the benefits of the recipient reading your email marketing message. A subject line like “October 2017 Newsletter” is not good whereas “How your donation will help these kids” will get far better open rates.
- Identifying who you are: When you send a campaign make sure that you identify clearly who is sending the email (i.e. the From field). If you’re a small business then perhaps you’d send using your own name however a large organisation should send from the organisations name.
In summary, even although open rates aren’t totally accurate, the aim is to continuously improve. Concentrate on your subscriber quality, subject line and being clear about identifying the sender and your open rates are sure to improve.