It's no secret that the reliability of open rates is not what it was, thanks mainly to the growing prevalence of image blocking. In a way this is good: it means we have to look beyond simple opens to statistics that are far more telling. I'm talking of course about the click-through rate.
Click-throughs are unequivocal proof that you've got someone's attention. You can look at an email without taking it in, but I can't imagine anyone clicking on a link in an email without having some reason.
A click is a statement of interest – that's powerful information you can use to improve the targeting and relevancy of future campaigns. But the value of this data depends upon the skill of the email creative: what is the context of the link?
Let's say you're a veterinary practice. Your list contains a mix of cat, dog and other pet owners. An article in your newsletter talks about a particular condition that affects cats, and a link to a relevant product or service. Gather the click-through data on this link and you have a tailor-made list of customers for cat-related products and services. If on the other hand the newsletter only contains general links such as 'click here to find out more about our services' and sending readers to the home page, your click-through data tells you very little.
By increasing targeting and relevancy you'll improve the results of your email marketing efforts, and thereby the return on your investment. And it all starts with the humble click.