If some of you don’t know that a tiny invisible graphic that is put in the publisher’s server is used to monitor and keep track open rates. Every time a recipient open’s the publisher’s email, the tiny invisible graphic is downloaded. When the tiny invisible graphic gets downloaded, each download is monitored and detected. You would get 50% of the total open rates if you send an email to 50,000 different email addresses and you will only achieve that 50% if 25,000 of your unique recipients open the email and downloaded that little graphic.
To those recipients who are using the preview feature of their email client, the email will grab the invisible tracking graphic and therefore register as having been opened so this is really confusing when the truth is that the recipient never opened your email or took time to look at it. This situation is known as the “false positive.”
Email open rate doesn’t really tell us whether or not a plain text emails are being opened at the same rate. Nor will it report on the recipient who downloads his mail from a POP server, then reads it offline. Such a recipient makes what’s known as a “false negative.”
Recently, anti-spam strategies are weakening the open rate’s significance further. There are several major email clients who have now configured to block all images by default in order to protect their recipients from having to see explicit images. AOL has been using this technique for how many years now and other major ISPs are distinctly moving toward this no-image approach.
Recipients can unblock images normally by adjusting their email client settings but the publishers doesn’t have any idea how many of their recipients are doing this. The publisher can just assume that a specific percentage of the mailings are being opened until a more accurate open rate system is invented.
Open rates are still useful when they are applied and used as a general indicator of email marketing success despite of all the uncertainties.
If you happen to notice the gradually decreasing open rates of your campaign, it could be because your publication has gone boring and is in need of a serious modification. However, if your email open rates are decreasing but your revenue and click-through rates are increasing, you might not have to worry about your declining open rates.
There is one thing you can do to analyze your open rates – separate your old and your new subscribers. Some analysts say that an effect called “list fatigue” is responsible for the declining open rates among your old email recipients. If there is a huge difference between the two groups, then it would be the right time for you to come up with a special offer for your old subscribers to win them back.
If you have demographic information about your subscribers/list members, it would be an advantage on your part to take time to check open rates by gender, customer status, location, age, top domains, method of subscription or any information you have collected. Any evident changes that you will identify will help you in constructing different versions of your messages for specific segments.
Keep in mind that email open rate patterns can help identify the overall status in which your campaigns are being received. You can apply this approach in your open rates and you’ll be able to filter out the wrong statistics and have a better understanding of what your email marketing program needs in order to succeed.