Words Matter: Embrace the Render Rate

Posted by Stephanie Colleton on

I support the EEC’s efforts to redefine the metrics we use to track, understand and learn from our email marketing efforts. The channel has evolved since the original terms were developed. The metrics need to change to reflect as accurately as possible how subscribers are interacting with marketers’ email programs and how marketers interpret the data. In today’s economy, email is being called upon to work even harder. We should do everything we can to understand what is resonating with subscribers and use that knowledge to improve response and increase ROI.

That being said, I don’t think that changing the label “open rate” to “render rate” will make a huge difference as many email marketers know what the open rate is. But it is a more accurate label that better conveys what event has actually taken place. The subscriber hasn’t necessarily opened the email. They may just have images on and have scrolled past your email and it briefly displayed in the preview pane. Render is a more accurate term. Making the change in UI interfaces and on report labels shouldn’t be that difficult.

The EEC is also careful in their formulas to use Sent minus Bounced as the denominator for calculating render rate instead of just Sent which some marketers still use. I’d be interested in hearing what people think about taking it one step further and using Sent minus Bounced minus Bulk/Missing as the denominator. If your email is going into the bulk folder, it’s as good as undelivered. And if it gets blocked outright then it truly is undelivered.

The more interesting idea proposed by the EEC is the metric Unique Email Action Rate. This measurement will give marketers a new perspective on the effectiveness of their emails. This will help any marketer who is looking at their metrics in a linear way: 1,000 people opened and 400 people clicked so 40% of the people who opened, clicked. But that is, of course, not the case. Smart email marketers make sure that they have their offer in text and not just in an image and also use text links which makes it easier for subscribers to click even without downloading images. This formula accounts for the people who are clicking without opening. It assigns equal value to those who clicked only, opened only or did both. It would also be beneficial for marketers to look at the behavior of these segments separately in their reports. What was the click-through rate of those who rendered images vs. those who didn’t? This information would be very useful in understanding if the graphics to text ratio in an email would benefit from adjustment.

To optimize the email channel and compete with all that is vying for subscribers’ attention, we need to learn as much as possible about subscriber engagement. If looking at metrics in a new way or using new metrics will help achieve that goal, it is well worth the time and effort that will be required to embrace and incorporate these changes.

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


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About Stephanie Colleton

Stephanie began her digital marketing career 20 years ago with AOL followed by BMG Columbia House. She has been with Return Path for 11 years working with clients to optimize their email marketing programs by leveraging custom consulting and innovative AI solutions. Stephanie is based in New Jersey.

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