Opens are dead, but email isn’t. Here are the other important metrics that matter.

In case you missed the announcement at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Katie Skinner, Apple’s Manager of User Privacy Software said:

“What you may not realize is that many of these [marketing] emails use invisible pixels to collect information about your mail activity…We think you should be able to choose when to allow this or not. So now, in the Mail app, we’re introducing Mail Privacy Protection”

So what does this mean for email marketers?

In this blog post, I am going to answer 4 questions about Apple's latest update to mail.

#1 - Are open rates a vanity metric?

Well, it is, and it isn’t. Open rates are a great metric to present upwards to show that your email programs are being seen by your audience. People generally need to open your email in order to click on what’s inside. Another point here is that we also know that open rates impact deliverability.

Low open rates are a clear signal to ISPs that your recipients are not engaged with you, your brand, or your content. But, with the focus that companies like Apple are giving to privacy, industry benchmarks for email are going to be even more unverifiable.

So what are better metrics to track the success of your campaigns?

#2 - What other metrics should we look at? What is going to replace the 'open'?

Open rates are a good metric to see whether your audience is at the very least looking at your content. But what if everyone on your list opens your email, but not a single person clicks through on the CTA? That campaign would be considered a failure. With that in mind, here are some metrics to track that I think are better than open rates:

Conversion rate

To better measure conversion rate, it’s important to define what, specifically, you want your audience to do in an email to count as a conversion.

For example, if the purpose of your email is to get your recipients to sign up for a webinar, a click onto the webinar landing page may not count as a conversion for that specific campaign, whereas clicking through to the landing page and filling out a form to register for the webinar would count as a conversion.

In this case, open rates would be considered a vanity metric since we’re trying to get our recipients to take action by registering for the webinar. More on this later on.

Unsubscribe rate

Unsubscribes are an important indicator of the success of your campaigns, since if people are unsubscribing, they will no longer be receiving your emails.

In a case where a campaign sees a higher than normal unsubscribe rate, it’s a good indicator that your subscribers’ expectations are not being met, whereas a low unsubscribe rate and a high click rate would better indicate the success of your email marketing campaign than the open rate ever would.

Website visitors

If you’re noticing a high number of website visits after you send an email campaign, this is probably a good indication that your email was successful.

Alternatively, by using UTMs and other tracking methods, you can see exactly how well (or not well) your emails are performing.

#3 - What are my top tips to prepare for iOS 15 now?

Although iOS 15 isn’t expected to release until the fall, it shouldn’t mean that you have until late summer/early fall to start shifting our focus to higher-value success metrics.

Three things come to mind right away:

  • Clean your list based on existing engagement data, and fix your unengaged segment (or better yet, delete it) to avoid deliverability issues in the future

  • Start defining your conversion goals yesterday, and if you’re supporting other departments, let your team members know that these changes are coming, and to have a clearly defined KPIs in order to better track success moving forward

  • Define new success metrics for your email programs

#4 - Is email marketing dead?

No, but your opens are. As a consumer, I’m all for privacy. And as a marketer, I don’t blame companies like Apple for implementing privacy steps like these.

What it means for email marketers, is that we need to do a better job at measuring the success of our email campaigns if what we're relying on now to measure success is whether or not someone opened our email.

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