We think that the email marketing industry needs standard reporting and metrics.
Right now, it’s impossible to compare and benchmark response and deliverability rates across the industry because marketers get reports with different terms based on different calculations.
Technological barriers (more on this below) mean that some of the numbers are imperfect metrics but we could all make sure that the name of the imperfect report is accurate.
Inaccurate or inconsistent metrics impact the credibility of email marketers. If our metrics cannot conform to benchmarks, we lessen our ability to convince our management and our colleagues of our program’s success. And that makes it harder to negotiate for resources.
The EEC is the US DMA’s email arm, and their metrics round table has produced a set of standardised metrics they want all email marketers to adopt. The latest definitions are here.
There are lots of people (okay email freaks/geeks like me) who feel strongly about this. This article and the comments below about Open Rates are the best kind of argument – considered, intelligent, experienced and a little bit argy-bargy… Which reports are most useful to you? What do you think they should be called? You can have your say below.
Loren starts off on the OPEN RATE (proposed rename = RENDER RATE)
“Here are some real-world examples of the inaccuracies and inconsistencies of email opens:
· The email is “opened” (launched), but images are blocked: not counted as an open
· The email is not opened (launched), but images are enabled and is read in the preview pane: counted as an open
· The text version of a multi-part message is read on a BlackBerry. The HTML version (with images blocked) is later opened in Gmail (or other email service/client). The email has been opened and read twice — but zero opens are recorded.
· A text version is opened and read but not clicked: not counted as an open
· A text version is opened and read, but the user clicks a link: not counted as an open with some email software. Others assign an open because the email was clicked on, which assumes an open.
…I think you get my point. With marketers increasingly being held accountable for their marketing spends and actions, do they really want to base performance reports and marketing decisions on such a flawed and inconsistent metric?
Further, the open rate is a process metric that does not measure return on investment or how well the campaign helped you achieve a strategic initiative for your company. Showing how much email contributes to the bottom line, not how many people opened your email, will help you secure a bigger share of the marketing budget.”
In response, we get comments like this from John Calder:
“I have to disagree that clicks are a better open indicator. Subject lines cause a message to be opened and read. Value proposition and call to action cause a link to be clicked. What happens after the click causes conversion.
Therefore, a weak subject line with a good value proposition and strong call to action may get more clicks even though fewer people have ‘read’ the message, than a good subject line where more people have ‘read’ the message with a weak value proposition and call to action. From that, which is the better subject line?
The people who buy from you or read your newsletter and really want what you have to offer will turn images on. They will show open rates along with click rates. These people are a good indicator of what people like them are interested in, and if that’s your target market I’d say that there’s some pretty good intelligence to be had there.”
This is a big subject and we’re doing a lot of work on it now. What is most important to measure and benchmark, how should it be calculated and what should it be called?
I’d love to hear your thoughts with comments here on the GetSmart blog. We will take all of these into account when we review our reporting layouts. Our clients and our teams are pleased with our reporting now, but we’d love to be the first ESP in the world with the new standard names and calculations for all our reports.