In email marketing, engagement describes subscriber activity with an email. And what is more indicative of engagement than an email being read?
The read rate allows marketers to distinguish successful campaigns that grab subscribers’ interest from the failed campaigns that are ignored (not opened, deleted without reading, etc.). The read rate differs from the typical open rate in that it does not require a pixel to fire to record an open, making it more accurate as it accounts for all email viewed, regardless of image rendering.
Mailbox providers use a combination of positive and negative engagement metrics—like the read rate—in addition to other ‘hidden metrics’ when deciding if an email is legitimate or spam:
See a trend there? Let’s talk about it! Welcome to the 5 stages of recovering from low read rates.
Stage 1: Pre-contemplation
Oftentimes, those in the pre-contemplation stage have yet to find out that the problem exists—or they have to admit to themselves that they have a problem. Having the information and acknowledging that low read rates are having an impact on your deliverability leads to the next stage of recovery: contemplation. Marketers can move on to the next phase once they have collected and analyzed their subscriber data and recognized that there is potential for improvement.
Stage 2: Contemplation
At this point, the marketers have accepted they need to make changes, but they are not only struggling to understand the root cause of their low read rates and are unsure how to move forward. It is easy for marketers to remain in this stage for months as they begin to think about potential courses of action. The end of the contemplation stage is characterized by deeper analysis on their email program and thinking about an action plan. Once they get to this point they are ready for the next stage.
Stage 3: Preparation
Those who have reached the preparation stage have made concrete plans on how they are going to address low read rates. Once they have committed to a plan of action, they are likely to move on smoothly. By now they are fully aware of the factors influencing read rates, of the significance of this metric, and have made valuable observations.
They know from Return Path’s 2019 Hidden Metrics of Email Deliverability benchmark that the average read rate in 2018 was 24 percent and that their industry has its own benchmark they should be working against.
Stage 4: Action
This stage of recovery is relatively self-explanatory. During the action phase, marketers begin the process of implementing recommendation and strategies in order to improve their email program. This stage usually requires the most effort, but it is also one of the most important. The action stage is the foundation for long-term good deliverability.
Stage 5: Maintainance and best practices
One of the most overlooked phases may be the maintenance stage. Recovery takes a great amount of time, hard work and dedication—it is a process, not a single event. At the close of the action phase, every marketer should move into maintenance, continue best practices, and be mindful of their read rates among other metrics and success indicators.