What’s the most important thing about email marketing? Is it creating a great offer? Designing a beautiful layout? Having a catchy slogan?

No, it’s none of those things. The most important thing about email marketing is the same as any kind of marketing – it’s to get your message out there.

You might be forgiven for thinking that this means sending your messages to as many people as possible, but no. That’s spamming, and that doesn’t go anywhere. It is not about sending it out randomly and hoping that people read it. Email marketing is all about consistently delivering the right message to the right people. So how can you make sure your message has reached them and they have engaged with it?

By tracking the open and the click rate of your email campaign?

What is the open rate?

When an email arrives in the inbox all the user can see is the subject line and who sent it. They can ignore it, trash or spam it, or open it. When the email is opened, the action of the opening can be reported back to the sender. When this is part of a large campaign, this information is stored by the software used to send the messages. A picture can be built up of how many people opened the message, what time of day they read it, and what device they used to access their email.


Open rate = Number of people who opened the emails ⁄ Number of recipients

What is the click rate?

Every email has an intent. Most of the time that intent is to encourage people to take action by clicking on a link. When a recipient clicks on that link inside the email. It is called a click through.


Click rate = Number of people who clicked on the email links ⁄ Number of recipients

This information is vital for improving your email marketing campaigns in the future as well as seeing how well your current message performed.

Discovering your audience

Your message will only be opened intentionally if the person who receives it has an interest in what you have to say. If you track email opens and find that the majority of your messages are not opened, it is a signal that your subject lines are either not compelling enough or are entirely unrelated to the interests of your recipients.


No opens means that nobody is receiving your message, and your marketing efforts are being wasted.

The first step to rectifying this situation is to determine how your subscribers got added to your email marketing list, and check what promises were made to them in the beginning. If your sign up form promises “a step by step plan to redecorate your home” and you began with the intention of selling flooring and wallcoverings, that is the route you should continue down. If you suddenly sidestepped and now send emails on refitting kitchens, you’re still in the same general market – home improvement – but have changed your niche from home décor to installing appliances.

It would be unsurprising in this instance if your open rate dropped – you are providing information, and it may be good information, but it’s not relevant to the interests of your audience.

If you are happy that you are providing the right information, then it may be your presentation that needs to be looked at.

When your market is home décor, you may find that a subject line of “12 reasons you should choose textured wallpaper” might get a higher open rate than “Buy our paint! It’s really cheap!”

However, you may discover it is the other way around – each market has their own preference. The key to success here is to monitor your email opens. If you consistently get a better response with one particular type of headline, that is the format and style you need to maintain.

Reopen tracking

With advanced email marketing software, you can establish if your email message has been opened more than once. Why would anyone open your email? The most likely reasons are that they didn’t finish reading it the first time and are truly interested in what you have to say, or alternatively, you have some information in there that they want to refer to again.

Either reason equates to good news – there is a genuine interest there in the content you are providing which can be nurtured into a selling opportunity in the future.

Furthermore, if this information is cross-matched against your existing lead database, you will be able to identify those leads that are already primed for closing a sale.

Other open tracking options

Each open of an email can be tracked to a particular person on your list. Open tracking will also give you information on emails being forwarded and opened by other people, which can help you gain further insight into which emails you send are popular.


A further metric that can provide vital information is generated when an email is opened a long time after it has been sent. Is the recipient a long way behind on their email, or are they looking back to refresh their memory on the information you sent? By being able to track the original open date and comparing it with the send date, you can determine the answer easily.

Build email campaigns that get opened

Tracking email opens will make your marketing campaigns more effective and much more efficient if you use the information you have access to and make changes according to what the reports show you.

Ignoring the reports is the quickest way to failure, as you will continue to send emails that don’t matter to the people who receive them. It is only by learning what works and building a relationship with your audience that you will be able to create trust and improve your closing rate.

When all the facts and figures are at your fingertips, there is no excuse for not improving your campaigns.

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