I’m often saying marketers are bombarded by too many statistics and metrics in the digital age and have a challenge to make sense of them all.  But there is a new tracking measurement on the email marketing block which I think we should all be sitting up and taking notice of.

Standard email metrics are all about delivery, opens and clicks; but the next generation of email metrics take opens a step further – measuring how long someone is reading the email to help quantify engagement. 

Opens are a great measure for email marketers, as well as
number of times opened, but now we have the tools to judge whether someone
opened and actually read the email or
whether they glanced and then deleted.

These metrics are quite simply fascinating.  Not only that, they are useful and can help
you change your tactics to increase marketing performance. I was introduced to them by our own “email
guru” Guy Hanson.  They won’t be new to
everyone but they were to me – and they’re certainly worth looking at.

This ‘email reading’ tracking data has powerful potential as
it can indicate those who are engaged in a service or offer and can then be
linked with other data, such as web analytics or transactional data, to inform

For example, those who
actually read emails rather than just glancing at them are great targets for a follow-up
communication if they don’t enquire or purchase immediately.

Looking to increase their edge in the highly competitive
travel marketing sector, tailor-made package holiday specialists Travelbag
recently used these metrics as part of a multichannel marketing review. Among other channel combinations, they were
looking at whether sending a follow-up email to a direct mail shot increased
the response rate.  

We tested it for them (using a deal for Hong Kong) and it certainly
did. The read percentage was
substantially higher in an email which was a follow-up from a mail shot versus
an isolated email: a fantastic uplift of over 25% in reader
attentiveness! And when broken down by
type of email client (using hand held, web browsers or desktops), the email
follow-up drove engagement up by a phenomenal 79% among desktop users.

This, as well as testing other channel combinations, proved
to Travelbag that reinforcing messages using multiple channels is very effective
in increasing engagement and cemented their drive to increase relevancy and
more fully integrate their campaigns – all underpinned, of course, by the
clever use of customer data.

These metrics can also be used to test creatives.  If one creative is viewed for longer it can
be considered to have more cut-through and therefore be used over and above
another.  And it can be used to analyse
entire databases over time to segment ‘engaged’ and ‘not engaged’. The data is there to be used, organisations
just need to embrace it.

What I like about this new email metric is that it’s data,
but not for the sake of it. It’s about
being clever and targeted. This is the
kind of marketing that excites us and precisely the reason we have all fallen
in love with digital and the information it can give us.