There has been a lot of talk in the marketing world lately about open rates, especially as big tech companies like Apple and Google move away from certain tracking capabilities, seemingly making open rates a thing of the past. And as marketers, it can be scary to hear that the way we have done things for so long may soon be going away. In fact, I have a whole planned blog post dedicated to big tech changes and what that means for association marketers, so stay tuned for that!
The truth is, though, that we don’t need open rates—at least not to gauge how engaged our members are with our emails. Chances are, if you’re only sending broadcast emails then your members are less engaged than you think, even if your open rates tell a different story. That’s because open rates and engagement aren’t the same thing.
Open rates simply tell us that someone opened our email. We can’t tell whether they found it helpful or whether they need something more that wasn’t included in our email. Sure, click-through rates can give you more targeted information, but it really only tells you how many people clicked through a particular link on an aggregate level, similar to a survey. You can read more about the difference between surveys and conversations in an earlier blog post, How Well Do You Know Your Members?
Even if we believe open rates and click-throughs are an accurate indication of how engaged our members are, the outlook isn’t great. The industry average click-through rate is only 2.5 percent. But, low engagement isn’t inherent to email. It’s inherent to the model of email communication everyone has adopted, consisting of blasting out broadcast communications that function as a one-way experience. We send our members non-conversational broadcasts and then we wonder why they aren’t engaging with us.
So, how can we get back to the way email is meant to be used, starting conversations rather than simply broadcasting information? If you’re a regular reader then you probably know what I am going to say; just start the conversation! Invite your members to engage with you by asking them a question so you can provide them exactly what they need.
You can read this excerpt as well as other Association Marketing practices that focus on two-way, individualized digital communications in the Conversational Engagement eBook. Download it here.