Why is the Beloved Open Rate Failing Marketers?

pinkberryA cornerstone of email marketing is testing. Perhaps it’s the day of the week that you send the message, or even the imagery and text inside the message. Arguably the
most prevalent element marketers test is the subject line. The appeal of doing so is clear: You have approximately two seconds to get the reader’s attention in their inbox as their finger hovers over the delete button. Optimizing those seconds is mission critical. Search for “subject line testing” on Google and you’ll be consumed by over 6.4 million results. The majority of that content will tell you that the “winning” subject line hinges on one key metric: the message’s open rate.

One of our clients, Pinkberry, performed an A/B subject line test. With an open rate that was 12 percent higher than subject line A, subject line B outperformed its counterpart. Based on conventional wisdom, Pinkberry should have gauged subject line B as the clear winner, right? Wrong. Most email marketers are forced to focus on the open rate because they can’t prove an email resulted in a sale, however, studying open rates in isolation leads to misconceptions about the message’s impact. You can and should leverage messaging software that helps you attribute emails to purchase behavior—a privilege eCommerce companies have enjoyed for years.

In fact, according to our super smart data scientists, we’ve repeatedly seen that the open rates of A/B subject line tests are misleading. In most cases, the email subject that got fewer opens actually resulted in revenue drivers like visits and spending. In the Pinkberry example above, subject line A rendered an increased sales lift of 5.4% and visit frequency increase of 3.3% over line B.  And what is the email for if not to drive business to your restaurants or stores?

When you’re evaluating your emails, look at traditional email success metrics in context. What should be on your radar as a matter of course? Consider:

  1. Visits – How many people did your email compel to visit your locations?
  2. Spending – How much money did the targeted visitors spend in total?
  3. Redemptions – If your message included an offer, how many people redeemed it?

In sum, shake off those A/B test assumptions! Keep your open rates close, but your behavioral statistics closer.

Want to learn more about Paytronix’s messaging best practices? Click here to read more on why you should send 5.75 emails per subscriber per month.

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The Author
Kristen House is the messaging product manager. She loves delivering buzz-worthy email and mobile messaging features to clients so that they can take their guest engagement program to the next level.

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