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Is your email marketing platform lying to you?

Published 19 Jun 2019 by Chris, CANDDi
Read this in about 4 minutes

Marketers love metrics.

CPA, CTR, CPC; if it consists of three letters and can make a pretty graph, you can bet we’ll measure it.

Which is great, of course… as long as those numbers are accurate. Obsessing over your metrics like some mad scientist is of no value to your business if they don’t reflect reality.

Well, unfortunately for email marketers, this is exactly the case. The two most commonly used metrics - open rates and click-throughs - are often reported by email marketing platforms as being much higher than they really are.

Let’s talk about why this is, and how you can get around the issue.

Why is my email marketing platform lying to me about open rates?

Let’s start with open rates.

The way your email marketing platform tells if someone opens an email is by including a little transparent tracking pixel on the email. When this pixel gets loaded by the recipient’s email client, this counts as an open.

There’s all sorts of situations that prevent this from being an accurate measure of your email opens.

One example is when your recipients’ email client prevents all images in the email from being loaded; this means that while they opened the email, your tracking pixel never fires. This would make your email marketing platform report your open rates as being lower than they actually are.

Often, however, the open rates that are reported to you are actually higher than in reality. This is because some devices and platforms - mobile especially - will actually load the tracking pixel despite the email never being opened.

Why is my email marketing platform lying to me about clicks?

If you ever find yourself asking why any form of web analytics might be inaccurate, allow me to save you some time: the answer is probably bots.

See, when an email gets sent to your inbox, your spam filters go to work. They want to make sure that any links within that email are legit, and won’t be sending you to without your knowledge.

However, the way that your email marketing platform tracks the links you send is by redirecting people who click on links through their own server.

As you can imagine, this means that your email marketing platform and your recipient’s spam filter are working against each other. One is redirecting people through links, and the other is trying to make sure that links aren’t redirecting to anywhere else.

This creates false positives. Spam filters click on your links to verify them, and your email marketing platform registers these as real human clicks instead of the bots that they are.

The result? The amount of clicks your emails get is almost certainly much lower than you’re being led to believe.

How do I more accurately track my email marketing?

What would you do if you doubted any other analysis you received in life?

Let’s say you take your car for an M.O.T. and get quoted £500 for a faulty tire. You’d get a second opinion to make sure things check out.

Or at least I hope you would. If not, then please get in touch; I know a Nigerian prince with an offer you’re going to love.

The point is, it’s always wise to cross-check your data where possible, which is why you should use an additional measurement for your email stats. This is easier said than done for email opens, but it can certainly be done with checking how many people click through to your site from emails.

One way is to use Google Analytics. Check how much traffic reaches your site through email referral for a more accurate overview of your email marketing success.

This number is also not completely accurate - for a number of reasons such as the platform’s use of sampling to “estimate” data rather than truly report it - but combining the two sources will give you more accuracy than relying on email marketing platform statistics alone.

A better solution

For true visibility on the people who hit your website from an email campaign, an advanced visitor tracking tool like CANDDi is required.

By creating a stream (filter) for every specific email campaign you send, you can sit back and watch that filter populate as individuals click through to your site from the link in your email.

The great thing with this approach is that it doesn’t just stop at how many people clicked through to your site. CANDDi will show you exactly who they are, and every single action they did on your site after landing there.

Aside from the obvious benefits of being able to get in touch personally with the prospects you know are interested, using CANDDi in this way also gives you a great insight into user journeys on your site.

For example, you may notice a trend that people keep hitting your site from an email campaign, navigating straight to your product page, and then leaving. This would indicate that your product page isn’t up to par, and highlight that you need to change it to improve conversions.

So there you have it. Now you know why you shouldn’t be over-reliant on the metrics provided by your email marketing platform.

If you want to see more about how CANDDi can give you the visibility you need to close sales, why not book yourself in for a quick demo? No Nigerian princes here - I promise!

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