since we're all talking about open rates...

(alt title: please open this email, even if open rates don't matter)  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

In light of the recent announcement about Apple's plans for iOS 15 and the instant panic in the world of email, I thought I'd bring this topic I wrote about IN 2017 back to life. I last sent this email out in 2019. Not gonna say I have a crystal ball but I'm also not NOT saying that if you know what I mean.

How many of your subscribers open your emails?
How can I increase my open rates?
Write a good subject line to get people to open your emails!

My data tells me that the majority of my subscribers don’t even open my emails. A good 60%. And maybe that's true.

But here's something to know about how open rates are tracked:

Any email sent through an email service provider has to have a small pixel (image) embedded in it. You can't see it in the email (it's in this one!) but it's there, "tracking" what's going on with that email.

Here's the catch:

If a subscriber's inbox doesn't have Always Display Images clicked in their email settings, that pixel might never be "seen" by the inbox and reported back to the service provider as delivered and opened.

Which means that your open rates are low.

On top of that little number, your subscribers are using services like which actually mark emails are read when they were never actually seen by your subscriber!

Which means that your open rates are high.

Confused? Relieved? Both?

Yeah. Open rates are not the metric to hang your hat on, my friend.

So what should you be caring about and how do you know if your email strategy is working?

Click rates, for one.

Yup, good old fashioned action is what you’re looking for here.

If someone can click on your email, they obviously opened it. And read it (hopefully). Some ESPs will even show you this funky looking data where one of your subscribers shows that they clicked on an email but it was never delivered or opened.

How can that be? Well, if they didn’t have images displayed (see above) the inbox might not report that email as opened or even delivered. But since they clicked, the software picks that up and tells you they took action.

Fun, right?

Including links to click on in emails (and even taking the opportunity to tag people based on their clicks) is the best way to see how effective your email strategy is today.

So does that mean you shouldn’t care one bit about open rates and list size and all of those other “good business” things you’ve learned from every free webinar you’ve ever been on? No. Care, go ahead. Let it matter to you. It’s your business and your newsletter and your time writing so it should matter.

Just don’t let it be the only thing that matters.

Long ago it was discovered that the world is not flat. Well, neither is your business. You can’t take things for black and white. Dig in. Learn about the data you’re looking at. Find out what you can do instead. See the (entirely un-flat) whole picture.

And don’t let those open rates get to you.


PS: Before you head off to learn about your data, I'm curious what brought you here in the first place.
(click the one that most applies or hit reply and tell me in your own words if nothing below rings true)

I'm a freelancer and I want to add email marketing to the list of services I offer
I'm a SaaS business owner who cares about our churn numbers
I'm an ecommerce business owner who cares about our customer churn
I work for a SaaS or ecommerce business and am involved on a regular basis in our email marketing

PPS: Yes, I'm using clicks inside this email to find out the true engagement. So pick one, would ya?

PPPS: I'm really proud of you. You're doing a great job.

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