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Measuring success through opens & clicks? You might want to think again...

Posted by TwentyCi December 15, 2020

When it comes to measuring the success of a campaign, email is one of the most straightforward channels to track. With clear, instantly-available open and click rates, it’s easy to attribute sales to an email send. Or so we thought...

Seeing the bigger picture

Open and click through rates are commonly seen and cited as one of the most effective way of measuring email campaigns. There are many guides readily available, such as this one, that allow you to compare your rates to industry average, and thus compare how 'successful' your recent campaign was. However there are flaws to this kind of reporting - for example an unsubscribe could be counted in your click rates and only once images are downloaded is an email counted as an 'open'. With this in mind, we ran some in-depth analysis for one of our clients, to look at the true impact email has on sales.

Using standard email metrics, the results were nothing to shout about, with the campaign delivering just 14 purchases (0.01% of the 116,606 recipients).


When we matched the data back to in-direct purchases though – those people who received the email but whose final click came from another channel – we were surprised by the results.

Of those who opened the email, 50 went on to make a purchase. That instantly takes the conversion rate from 0.01% to 0.04%.

Even more surprisingly, of the 112,941 who didn’t open the email, 1,181 made a purchase. That’s a conversion rate of 1.05%.

Adding all the purchases together, the email actually delivered 1,254 sales in total. A conversion rate of 1.06% against the full send.


Opens aren’t everything

Our results clearly showed that even if a customer doesn’t open the email, just seeing it in their inbox can trigger renewed interest and purchases. So even if their last click comes from, for instance, paid search, the sale could still be attributed to email. These numbers also show a significant uplift in comparison to the control group, further confirming our findings.

All in all, this has huge implications for the future of email measurement. While clicks and opens are a helpful way of comparing campaigns, they don’t tell the whole story.

To really see what’s going on, ROI is a more useful measure of success. It may take a little time to set up, but an accurate attribution model will give you a much clearer idea of what’s driving sales.

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