When you send out email newsletters, how do you gauge success? If you are not reviewing your open rate and analyzing the most successful headlines and content types, you could be missing out on a huge opportunity to increase your readership. It sounds simple, but you may be surprised by the amount of businesses or individuals who send a scattershot email and hope for the best. Maybe you are in that category. If so, I hope to help you realize the potential that lies in taking a few minutes to review the charts your email service provides you with upon the completion of a campaign.

So what’s an open rate?

Open Rate = Unique Opens / (Number of Emails Sent – Bounces)

Unique opens are email opens determined by each separate email address, the first time they are opened. This is similar to unique website visits-the first time a user’s IP address hits the site. However in website metrics, unique visits includes repeat visitors if the same person uses a different device. Email unique are a little more precise in that a unique open is measured by one email address. Therefore a return open will not be counted against the unique opens because the same email can be used on multiple devices but it is still the same email, and therefore only counted as one unique open.

After determining your overall open rate, you will need to get details on what is creating this rate. According to Opt-in Monster, there are 5 metrics you should be tracking to measure the engagement of your audience in your email marketing efforts:

  1. How many people open your emails
  2. How many people click on a link inside your emails
  3. How many people unsubscribe
  4. How many people complain
  5. How many people forward your emails

Segmenting and analyzing these five metrics is key to determining how best to improve your open rate. Most mass email platforms will calculate your open rate for you, as well as send you a list of unsubscribes and keep track of people who forward your email.  Some platforms will provide you with click rates, but you can also ensure you measure clicks by tracking the item you are embedding with its own unique URL and tracking how many people arrived at that link from your newsletter. For example, Facebook metrics will tell you who arrived at your post through a certain medium (if you have a business page) and if you have Google Analytics running on your website, you will be able to determine who is visiting your link from newsletter clicks.

Monitoring click-thru-rates (CTR) from all angles is not a bad idea. Remember, when it comes to marketing data, you can never have too much. The more data the bigger the picture. Complaints will need to be monitored on your own. Do you have people leaving comments on posts or links complaining the information is useless? Have you gotten any emails with complaints that the emails they receive from you are spam? Be sure to evaluate the reasons behind why people may be complaining. Did you get their email address legitimately (requesting newsletter sign-ups on your site), or did you purchase bulk emails so people have no idea why you are emailing them?

While it may be easy to get offended by people who complain about your content or get upset at people who make a stink about being emailed what you find to be useful information, just remember that for your image to grow, you must consider what your audience finds useful, and be careful and creative in how you get your name out to them. Sometimes you have to convince people your services are useful to them in a persuasive manner, rather than bold calls to action (CTA). More on headlines and calls to action in the next post.

For now, consider the Real Estate industry average open rate  of 20.91% compared to the total market average open rate of 25%. That’s pretty good! How do your open rates compare?

This post is part one in a four part series on improving open rates with your email marketing efforts. Next week we will address how to create enticing calls to action and split test headlines for better open rates! !