Stats and Damned Stats: The Opens-To-Opener Rate
By Ken Magill
I think I’ve been at this too long.
Amid all the various benchmark stats Silverpop published in its 2012 Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study yesterday—open rates are around 20 percent as they have been for years; average click rates are between 4 and 5 percent, and so on—one stat jumped out at me: opens per opener.
How often are emails that record an “open” opened again?
According to Silverpop, the average median opens-per-opener rate across 12 industries is 1.6.
The travel-and-leisure sector had the lowest median opens-to-opener rate at 1.4 and computer hardware, telecom and electronics had the highest median opens-to-opener rate at 1.71.
I’ve always figured people open an email once, give it about two seconds and either act on it or leave never to come back.
That on average, once an “open” is recorded, there’s a about a 50 percent chance the message will record another was an eye opener—to me at least.
However, Dave Walters, product evangelist, Silverpop, said the stat shouldn’t necessarily be a surprise.
“Part of what you’re seeing there is multiple devices,” said Walters. “My big take away from this opens-to-opener number is that in most cases you’ve got one crack at getting someone to that call to action, and for people who aren’t down the road with email optimized for mobile, it’s going to get pretty painful.
“As a marketer you’ve got one, one and a half cracks at somebody and the risk is the email was built for desktop and it just got opened on an iPhone or an Android and the call-to-action button is a third of the size of your fingernail and you’ve got to side scroll to get to it,” he said.
Open rates are one of emails more imperfect metrics. An “open” is recorded when the receiving machine calls for graphics from the sender. As a result, emails opened with the graphics turned off will not record as having been opened. Also, emails on platforms that render graphics in the preview pane will register as having been opened when they may have not.
Still, open rates are a good barometer/in-house benchmark of user engagement. High open rates tend to mean high recipient engagement. Likewise, plummeting open rates overall or at a particular ISP, such as Gmail, are a sign of trouble.
In any case, the opens-to-opener rate could simply be barometric and nothing more.
And, yes, the fact that I found the metric interesting enough to have a discussion about it and then subject my readers to it means that, indeed, I have been at this too long.
Access Silverpop’s full study here.