Unopened emails are undervalued

Benchmark figures show typical email campaign open rates of 20%. In my experience deeper analysis shows most databases have typically between 40% to 60% of customers opening emails at least from time to time.

So if 20% of people typically open an email does that mean the other 80% didn’t see it at all?

For sure some of the 80% didn’t see it at all, reasons include:

  • Delivered to an email account they don’t check
  • On holiday and ignoring everything whilst away
  • Have filtering rules setup to move the email out of the inbox

However if 60% of the customer base is opening sometimes its only logical that they must reviewing many emails and making a decision whether to open (load images) or not.

Just what is meant by reading an email?

  1. Tracking image downloaded? The normal marketers’ definition of open
  2. Selected from the inbox and the HTML loaded? The ISP definition of read (technically like IMAP fetch)
  3. Saw the email from name & subject line and decided to either continue or ignore?

The third option is what people do rather than what’s measured. People make a review of the email. That review may lead to a technical measurable read and/or an open.

Real people review the from name and subject line and decide if this is something they want at the moment. They saw the email, they considered their interest this time and in the majority of cases decided to pass over further action. Its wrong to think an email has no value unless opened.

By reviewing an email customers definitely engaged and skimmed enough of the email to decide to ignore this time. They were reminded of the brand, its products and offers.

Some customers may glance over the pre-header and headline text too before deciding whether to technically open.

I’ve personally been ignoring emails from eBuyer for a very long time, until recently a subject line came along with the exact thing I was thinking of buying. Bingo, a sale resulted. But by ignoring I mean not that I didn’t see eBuyer emails, but that I didn’t read every word and I didn’t act.

Whilst working hard to stimulate interest and get a technical open, don’t forget about the majority who are happily just reviewing some of your emails until the time and offer is right for them. Ensure you message to the reviewers as well as the openers.

A good from name, subject line and pre-header text strategy means your name will be the one that pops into the customers head when the time is right for what your brand offers.