Traffic Analysis – The Open Rate

How many of you open your mailbox regularly and find it stuffed with all sorts of unsolicited mail? – flyers, brochures, leaflets, pre-approved credit cards, and all sorts of marketing materials from local or big companies offering you to buy, join, subscribe, or try. How many of these do you actually read? And how many go straight to the trash can or shredder even before you open it? Real time analysis is difficult to do when measuring the effectiveness of these physical marketing collaterals. There are two types of “open rates”- one for physical mail (aka snail mail via the USPS or other physical mail carrier) and one for electronic mail. In the case of email marketing, traffic analysis is more readily measurable. This means conclusions can be reached at a faster rate and corresponding actions to correct, arrest, or enhance results can be put in place as close to real time as possible.

What is Open Rate?

In email marketing, the open rate is the number of list subscribers who opened the email message. The open rate is a percentage of the total number of emails sent. (

According to Wikipedia,

The email open rate is a measure primarily used by marketers as an indication of how many people “view” or “open” the commercial electronic mail they send out. It is most commonly expressed as a percentage and calculated by dividing the number of email messages opened by the total number of email messages sent excluding those that bounced (Open Rate=Email messages opened/Total no. email msgs sent).

The open rate of any given email can vary based on a number of variables. For example, the type of industry the email is being sent to. In addition, the day and time an email is scheduled or sent to recipients can have an effect on email open rate. The length of an email’s subject line can also affect whether or not it is opened.

The open rate for an email sent to multiple recipients is then most often calculated as the total number of “opened” emails, expressed as a percentage of the total number of emails sent or—more usually—delivered. The number delivered is itself measured as the number of emails sent out minus the number of bounces generated by those emails.

Many marketing experts question the sole use of the results generated from Open Rates tracking as an absolute measure of the effectiveness of a company’s email marketing campaign. A number of marketers use open rates as a relative measure in comparing the performances of emails sent to similar recipient groups, but at different times or with different subject headers. Perhaps it is safe to say that Open Rate is just one of the many marketing metrics that, when used in conjunction with other traffic analysis tools (Click Rate, Opt In Rate, Conversion Rate, Cart Abandon Rate, Upsell Take Rate, and Renewal/Reorder rate), can paint a clearer picture of how well your website is actually performing.

More on this next week.

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