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5 Email Open Rate And Click Tracking Caveats That Every Marketer Should Know

Tuesday, August 10th, 2021

Understanding your email open rates is critical for the long-term success of your marketing strategy. If you aren’t monitoring key metrics, you won’t know if your campaigns are effective. Reviewing KPIs regularly helps you understand how to tweak your strategy to meet your business goals.

While you are likely already tracking key metrics, you may not know that there are some caveats to the accuracy of email open rates and click tracking data. Understanding these caveats will help you properly interpret your results.

email open rates

1. Email Software Configuration May Lower Email Open Rates

You have no control over the email software that your recipients use or how they set it up. Some users will have their email client configured so that it will block images or HTML in their email content.

Users do this for security reasons or because they don’t want to be tracked. Either way, it’s bad news for the accuracy of your email open rate figures and click tracking data. Under normal circumstances, this type of data is collected via a beacon that is embedded in every email you send out. These beacons are tiny images that recipients don’t notice. They work by triggering a request for the image data from a server, which results in the server obtaining data about the recipient.

If a recipient blocks images or HTML, these beacons won’t load. This means that the tracking data isn’t collected by the server. Marketers will not have any insight into their activity. Even if the recipient does read the message, it won’t be included in email open rate figures. This results in email open rates that may in reality be slightly higher than your data shows.

2. Automatic Opens May Affect Your Email Open Rate

Some email programs may automatically open messages without user intervention. This can result in false positives. As a result, a user may be counted as having opened your email, when in reality it was just their software. These false positives will affect the accuracy of your email open rate, suggesting that the individual opened the message when they actually didn’t.

These false positives can be caused by some email filtering services which pre-load images to scan them for security purposes. Gmail has also been known to automatically pre-load images, affecting the accuracy of your email open rate.

3. Spam Filters May Affect Your Email Open Rate & Click Tracking

Some recipients may use spam filters that are configured to click email links to verify whether an email is safe. While this is great for protecting the recipient, it does pose a problem for email marketers. These automatic clicks from the spam filters may artificially inflate your email open and click rates.

If you look through your metrics, you may be able to determine which are automatic clicks caused by spam filters. If you see that multiple links are clicked in rapid succession, it is a solid indicator that the filter is scanning the email, rather than the recipient clicking a link themselves.

4. Certain Recipient Software May Prevent Collection of Email Open Rates & Click Tracking

Email client providers may offer protective measures that stop beacons from being able to collect metrics for the sender. The most prominent offering to do so is Apple’s Mail app, which began providing Mail Privacy Protection as part of iOS 15. This gives users the option to protect their email activity and prevent marketers from knowing when they open an email. It also masks their IP address, which stops their IP from being linked to their other online activity.

While many users may like this privacy feature, it does cause problems for email marketers. If more users opt-in to these privacy features, marketers may have to rely on metrics other than open rates.

5. VPNs May Cause Location Data To Be Inaccurate

As Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) become more popular, the accuracy of your location data may be affected. This is because VPNs allow users to spoof their locations. The data may indicate that a user is in Texas, but in reality, he or she could be in Vietnam using a Texas-based VPN server.

You need to be aware of this limitation when planning your email marketing strategy, and allow for the fact that your location-based targeting may not be 100 percent accurate.

How Can You Obtain Useful Metrics While Remaining HIPAA-Compliant?

While the above caveats complicate email open rate accuracy and click tracking for all marketers, those in the health sector face an even more complicated challenge. They need to be able to obtain useful data without violating HIPAA regulations.

Thankfully, LuxSci’s Secure Marketing tool is designed specifically for email marketing in the health industry. It offers features that allow you to measure your email open rates and click tracking, all while helping your organization meet its HIPAA compliance needs. Talk to us today to find out how Secure Marketing can help solve your business challenges.