The Big Email Marketing Lie: Why Open Rates Are for Suckers
On Thursday, Dean Isaacs and I will host a 5in25 training: Metrics that Matter – 5 Things to Measure in Your Marketing and Sales…
…and (spoiler alert):
Email open rate is not a metric that matters.
A story to clarify:
A few years back, I attended a conference where an “email marketing expert” spoke.
He described a campaign where he sent an email to a large list, tracked results and then sent a follow-up pitch to those who opened.
The open rate for that follow-up: 74%.
The expert chirped: “If you want to achieve open rates of 50, 60, even 74%, sign up…” and then he pitched a free report to collect prospects’ email addresses.
That’s some P.T. Barnum stage craft! (Isn’t Barnum the guy who said, “There’s a sucker born every minute?”)
After the circus, audience members crowded ‘round the expert to gather some more
priceless worthless marketing nuggets..
Here’s the thing…
Open rates lie.
That 74% rate screams, “Look at me! Marketing success.”
But what if the marketer hadn’t filtered his list?
What if he sent the follow-up to everyone – even those who didn’t open the first email?
Let’s do the math.
(Stick with me. This will be quick and easy. And it’s important if you don’t want to waste time chasing vanity metrics).
Sent to 1,000 people. Opened by 100. Open rate 10% (not great).
- Option A: Sent only to the 100 who opened the first. Opened by 74 people. Open rate 74% (Spectacular. Record-setting! Sign-me up!)
- Option B: Sent to the entire list of 1,000 people. Opened by how many? We already know that 74 of the 100 who opened the first email also opened the second. But what about the 900 who didn’t open the first email. For argument’s sake, let’s assume NONE of those 900 open the Option B email. So now you have only 74 people out of 1,000 who opened the follow-up. That’s a dismal open rate of 7.4%.
So which email will generate more sales,
- Option A: Open rate 74%?
- Or Option B: Open rate 7.4%?
No-brainer, right!? The one with the 74% open rate surely generates more sales, right!?
Guess again, sucker!
Reframe the question.
Which email will generate more sales,
- Option A opened by 74 people?
- Or Option B opened by 74 people?
(Not a no-brainer.)
Want to skyrocket your open rates?
Delete all the people from your list who haven’t opened an email this month.
You can brag all the way to the bank about your inflated open rates…
…and then realize…
…you cannot deposit “opens”
in your checking account…
One last thing, all of the above assumes your email software tracks opens accurately.
Apple devices “open” emails even when recipients don’t read them.
Lots of email software blocks the mechanism that tracks opens. So you don’t know it when some people actually read your email.
But that’s a story for another day.
The big takeaway for now: Quit worrying so much about open rates.
Countless factors affect the rate. And a higher rate does not necessarily mean greater marketing success.
If you want to know which metrics truly matter, join Dean and me on Thursday at 5 p.m ET, 4 p.m. CT.
p.s. I help coaches, consultants, and business leaders discover and deliver powerful stories that captivate prospects and inspire them to act. Whenever you're ready, here are several ways I can help you become a storytelling stand-out so you'll land more clients without pitching and prodding:
2) Watch the free, 7-minute Micro-Training: “The 3 Most Important Storytelling Keys to Captivate Prospects and Inspire Them to Act -- Without Pitching and Prodding.”
3) Become a Story Power VIP in the Content Transformation Academy: Master how to discover, assemble, and deliver business-building stories. Weekly masterclasses. Members-only content. One-on-one feedback and consulting sessions. And more… If you'd like to learn more about our VIP program, just reply to this email and put "Story Power VIP" in the subject line. I’ll contact you with more details.
4) Work with me one-on-one: If you’re interested in working directly with me -- to discover, assemble, and deliver powerful, business-building stories -- simply reply to this email and change the subject line to "Private Client." Tell me a little about yourself, your business, and what you'd like to accomplish, and I'll reply to discuss options.
5) Invite me to speak at an event: I can tailor a presentation that meets the specific needs of your organization. Informative. Entertaining. Virtual or live. Potential for continuing education credits when applicable for your group. If interested, reply to this email and change the subject line to “Speaking Engagement.” I’ll circle back to discuss the possibilities.
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