How Many Subscribers Actually READ Your Email?

Copyright © 2004 Steve Shaw

Would you like to find out exactly how many of your subscribers are opening and reading the emails you send to them? This article describes a very quick and simple method that anyone can use to do this, that you'll be able to implement immediately on all the HTML mail that you send out.

Let's look at a simple example of how this vital statistic can benefit you.

Say if you had a list of ten thousand - you send out an email, describing a great opportunity, and let's say, to keep this simple, that you get a 1% click-through ratio. That means only 100 of those ten thousand subs are actually going through to the site - and then perhaps only 1-5% of those actually make a purchase.

That means from a mailing to ten thousand, you could end up with a single sale. Fairly miserable result I know, but we're being pretty conservative here.

But imagine if you could track exactly how many of those ten thousand were opening and reading your email.

You might find out that only 30% of your subscribers (three thousand subs) actually opened the email - which if you measure your CTR against those who actually read it, rather than the number of subscribers you send it to, gives you an improved 3.3% CTR.

Once you're armed with this statistic, you can work in future on improving the number of subscribers who actually read your email. For example, a more intriguing subject line that grabs your subs by the throat and screams 'open me' could double the Open Ratio (OR) for your email, which in turn will double your response rate; and improving the body of your email so that it bypasses as many spam filters as possible, will help it reach many more of your valuable subs.

Do you see how powerful this statistic can be?

So let's look at how you can easily calculate this statistic for yourself, with every HTML email you send out. It's a simple two-step approach:

Firstly set up a tracking URL by doing one of the following:
A. Either set up a special page on your web site - it doesn't have to have any particular content, it's only purpose is to find out how many 'visitors' the page has received. It's a good idea to set up a special directory on your server, such as 'ezine', and then give the page a unique name related to your email - you could use the date when you send the mailing, such as '10312003.html'.

(If you do a split mailing, for example to test which subject line generates the best open rate, you could set up two pages such as '10312003A.html' and ''10312003B.html'. Get the idea?)

B. Or, if you use an ad tracking script, set up an ad tracking URL. Again, if you do a split mailing, just set up more than one.

Then add an HTML image (img) tag somewhere in your html email. Set the height and the width of the image to zero, and set the source (src=...) to the URL of the page/ad tracking URL you've set up on your site. (If you're not sure how to construct the image tag, do a quick search on Google for 'HTML img tutorial', and you will find plenty of material to help you.)

Here's how this simple system works.

* Your email is opened by the subscriber

* The image tag secretly loads the tracking URL that you specified as the source of the image, generating a 'hit'.

To find out your 'open rate', i.e. how many of your subscribers actually read your email, just check how many unique visitors your tracking URL received.

The most important part however is to put that statistic to good use - work on improving your open rate, and you will see your response rates improving too.

Steve Shaw creates systems and software for effective e-marketing. His popup generator software provides an easy way to get around the popup blockers, and sign up subscribers fast. You can also create virtually any other type of popup for your web site in seconds. For more details visit: