A Rose By Any Other Name: Distracting Us From Our Real Problem

Posted by Bonnie Malone 

I disagree with the EEC’s efforts to redefine the methods marketers – and the industry as a whole – use to track email marketing behaviors. While changing the terminology from “open rate” to “render rate” may be a more accurate reflection of the measurement, a new name is simply a distraction from the real issue: accurate measurement of the impact of the email channel.

There are a number of challenges email marketers face every day to compile any sort of reporting on the performance of their program, including:

  • Appending data from multiple, various sources (such as delivery reports, click tracking, web analytics, internal purchase/conversion data)
  • Abuse of email-only coupons through deal sites that skew response data
  • Tracking subscriber response in offline channels
  • Technical errors that under-report link-tracking data

These challenges not only make it difficult to compile full response data for program performance analysis, but inherently have discord between them. For example: what the ESP provides as clicks may not match up to the number of link visits reported by the web analytics tool. This forces the marketers to use the available data as directional indicators – and not precise measurements of subscriber behavior.

Therefore, implementing a complicated algorithm that may be a fraction more accurate for a single metric (opens or renders, in this case), will not greatly impact the overall analytics picture for the marketer. And, in fact, would most likely serve to add greater stress to the already thinly-stretched marketer, as they attempt to gather more detailed reporting data (such as separating clickers-only from openers-and-clickers) in order to perform the calculation.

So, while theoretically it sounds like a good practice to be more accurate in measuring these “Total Unique Action Values,” the impact would be negligible, at best. When used in combination with other metrics, marketers would still need to apply a directional approach for measuring business impact due to the broad and ever-present challenges faced in capturing the total response an email creates.

Agree with Bonnie? Share your views on the EEC blog.

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About Bonnie Malone

Bonnie is passionate about excellent customer experience. With a background in marketing, merchandise buying, and retail management, she helps companies stay relevant amid the changing digital landscape. Bonnie leads the knowledge and consulting teams at Return Path, the global leader in email deliverability. She is an active Email Experience Council committee member, featured speaker for events, and writes monthly for the Return Path blog and TotalRetail.

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