Something a lot of business owners struggle to understand is email response rates, and, indeed, response rates of direct mail and advertising in general.
As I’ve written before, your response rate isn’t necessarily too important because responses aren’t bacon itself – they merely serve to help bring the bacon home assuming you’ve got everything else in your sales funnel sorted out.
But the very things making email so easy, convenient and attractive are also what’re making it confusing to some people.
First, you’ve got the open-rate versus the delivery rate. And they’re not the same thing. The delivery rate is how many end up in the recipients’ inboxes; and the open rate is how many get read.
Unfortunately you can never know either of these things because the technology underpinning them is limited.
In other words…
Worrying About Reported Email Response Rates Will Drive You Nuts
For example, your email will be marked as ‘delivered’ even though locally it might have ended up in your prospect’s spam folder; and the open rate is measured using remotely-hosted images which sane people have their email clients set up NOT to download (meaning your true open rate is always equal to or higher than the reported one – and it’s almost never going to be equal to it).
Here’s a genuine example of email response rates from Sarah’s blog:
As you can see, there are apparently 882 ‘opens’ and 1,149 ‘clicks’.
Which of course is a nonsense, because how could they click on a link without opening the email?
So in terms of absolute numbers these statistics aren’t terribly useful; but as relative indicators, they are, meaning if you get X% opens and Y% clicks today, but tomorrow you get X-x% opens and Y-y% clicks tomorrow, it’s telling you proportionately fewer people were interested in what you had to say and offer today than they were yesterday.
The problem with measuring email response rates like this is you get sucked into the emotions of the numbers rather than focusing on the principles and results measured by your bottom line. For example, we know from experience Sarah’s list converts at 11.34%. We could fret and worry and piss and moan about the numbers above but it wouldn’t make one iota of difference.
In other words, these data are all very interesting but are often moot because the real email response rates and the ones you ultimately ought to be focusing on are how many sales you get out of them.
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