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January 28, 2009 / jasonpinto

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure

rten172lOh, my open rate!  If you are involved in sending emails (whether it’s for your own product or service, or for a customer) to different lists, you are most likely well aware of the term “open rate” .

Basically, once the email has been sent, curiosity arises: how effective was the email effort? One way that people measure the success is by reporting on the open rate. In most cases, it works like this:

– An invisible image is embedded in the HTML of the email. When someone views the email (and the images in the email), a hit is sent to a database, recording who opened the email, and when.

Now, I had two very different conversations about this topic just over the past few days.

One of the conversations was with a “techie”. Just upon hearing the mention of the term “open rate”, his face cringed! It clearly made him uncomfortable. If you were standing in “I’m a programmer – I know how the code works!” shoes, you may understand some of his valid points.  Primarily, the open rate is not an accurate stat.  Most email clients block images by default now-a-days. Thus, someone could read the text of your email… but if they don’t view the images, well, you don’t know they opened the email (na-na-nah-na-nah).

In the 2nd conversation, I talked to someone from the marketing and management side.  A recent email blast that they had done did not have the necessary code to include the tracking image – thus, they had no numbers to provide an open rate. Now, this certainly wasn’t the end of the world… But it did cause some discomfort for the person sitting in the “I need to report on how effective our monthly emails do” shoes.

These two conversations helped to drive home a point to me… In all companies, there are going to be people with different strengths, backgrounds, and needs. This is true across different departments of course (i.e. comparing the marketing/management room to the IT hangout), but it’s also true in each department.

How do you reconcile those differing opinions? Especially when both sides have valid points?

It’s not always pretty, or easy, but bringing those different people into the same room will benefit all in the long run. Hearing about how open rates actually work programatically will help teach the marketer a bit about one side of the business… Seeing the marketers passion for putting together fancy charts to show management will help the developer as well… Perhaps it will provide inspiration to each side, to help them think of something they can do to help make the other’s job easier.

Yes, it’s not really “team of rivals” stuff that we are talking about here… But even so, for any company to truly succeed, there needs to be a strong balance between the many, lovely groups and personalities that wander through the office.

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