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Going beyond email open rate

Surveys have shown that a third of businesses prioritise open rates as a key metric in assessing the effectiveness of marketing emails. That’s fair enough. However, Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) has been making this a considerably less reliable metric.

MPP is available to users of the Mail app on iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch, which is a lot of people. It allows users to conceal when and where they open emails, the device used, and any linked online activities. Traditionally, email systems have tracked opens by including an invisible ‘tracking pixel’ in the email. This is stored on the email server, so that anyone downloading it can be assumed to have opened the email. With MPP, Apple Mail now automatically downloads the tracking pixel, whether or not the recipient actually opens the email.

The outcome is that we probably need to be more sophisticated about what we track. Obvious metrics would be:

  • Click Rate: the proportion of recipients who click on a link within the email;
  • Conversion Rate: the percentage of recipients who engage in a desired action;
  • List Growth: the rate at which the subscriber list is expanding or contracting; and
  • Return on Investment: the revenue generated for every pound invested in email marketing.

None of these are rocket science. But they may be things that are easy to measure, but which we’re overlooking.