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What to measure instead of Open Rates

Anna from Revue
Anna from Revue
Hi there,
Time for an update.
At the Apple Event on Tuesday, the tech company unveiled a bunch of new offerings, including the iPhone 13 and a new Apple Watch. And in a press release just afterwards, they announced iOS 15 would be available for download starting Monday, September 20. Yes, that’s yesterday.
The email privacy tools that accompany the new iOS are likely to have a significant impact on tracked Open Rates. But since the news first broke earlier this year, we’ve learned more about how it will work. So I thought this would be a good opportunity to explain where we’re at now, and to give you some resources for tackling the change.
Why is this a big deal, again?
Back in June, Apple announced this:
In the Mail app, Mail Privacy Protection stops senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about the user. The new feature helps users prevent senders from knowing when they open an email.
The “invisible pixels” mentioned here are also known as tracking pixels — tiny images embedded in an email that load when a recipient opens that email. That delivers a signal to the sender that tells them the email has been opened, and it’s how services like Revue calculate what the Open Rate of your newsletter issue was.
After that first announcement, most (including us) thought that would mean all subscribers using Apple Mail will register as having opened your email, skewing Open Rate data. Here’s what I wrote in June:
If this works as expected, […] every reader on your list who uses Apple Mail will count as an ‘Open’, so you would see your Open Rates go up — even if fewer people actually read your emails.
What do we know now?
The information above is still largely true, but developments since then have indicated that there will be exceptions.
Litmus has rolled out a very good PDF (you can download it here) that outlines how this new privacy feature will work, and what it will mean for your stats. It’s mostly targeted towards email marketers, but there’s information in there that will be useful for any newsletter creator. Most importantly, it includes a calculator to help you work out what your real open rate would be.
The company has conducted lots of testing into how this will work, and here’s what they have to say about how many Apple Mail subscribers will register as Opens:
Emails sent to Apple Mail clients are expected to have around a 75% open rate (not 100% as originally thought due to some instances in our testing where some emails fail to cache images)
I won’t steal Litmus’s thunder by copying the calculator here, but I would recommend you check it out. You’ll need to know this figure for the calculation: by our estimates, based on the info we have today, around 29% of email opens come from Apple Mail, across all Revue newsletters.
What to track instead of Open Rates
Open Rates aren’t about to become completely useless — not everyone uses Apple Mail, after all — but they won’t be as reliable as they once were.
And that’s not necessarily a fundamentally bad thing. One thing we hope will happen is that newsletter creators will drill down on metrics that advance their goals, whatever they may be (I wrote about the importance of setting goals a few weeks back).
Decide on the action you want your readers to take, and make that the measure of success.
Here are some examples:
  • If you use your newsletter to drive traffic to your website (or YouTube channel, etc), make clicks on your website link the main thing you track. You’ll still be able to see the click frequency for each link in your newsletter on the Analytics page in Revue.
  • Maybe you want people to buy something from you. Track purchases originating from a link in your email.
  • Maybe you want to gain more paying subscribers. Track how many new ones you get per free issue you send.
  • Maybe you want people to interact with feedback buttons to indicate if they liked the issue or not. On Revue, readers are shown a thumbs up and thumbs down icon. Start measuring those feedback interactions for every issue.
  • Maybe you want people to reply. If that’s the case, make sure you ask a question you want to know the answer to, that way you’ll open up a channel of qualitative, actionable feedback. Start measuring the number of replies you get from each issue.
To make these data points comparable as your subscriber list grows, you can translate all of the above examples into an engagement rate. Any of the above actions counts as an ‘engagement’. 1 reply = 1 engagement, 1 purchase = 1 engagement, and so on. Here’s a helpful formula so you can measure your success over time:
So if you sent your newsletter to 250 people, and 3 replied, your calculation would look like this:
(3/250) x 100 = 1.2%
Now you can compare that each week as your subscriber list changes. Neat.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on how this affects Revue in coming weeks, and we would love to hear from you. How are you experiencing this change? Is there something missing on your metrics dashboard? Let us know!
Time to get inspired…
Newsletter inspiration
I was excited to stumble upon Original Comic Art Tips, by Franceso. It’s a weekly newsletter that’s been running more or less every week for — wait for it — four years. That’s extremely impressive in the newsletter world. Hats off to Francesco!
I also love how clear the value proposition here is. This newsletter provides a huge amount of value to anybody wanting to keep an overview of comic art pieces coming up for auction — and each issue is packed with a ton of research. It’s a testament to the importance of finding a niche. Check it out:
Original Comic Art Tips
The week in newsletters
Why email marketers are calling Apple’s iOS 15 update ‘a proverbial nail in the coffin’
Intuit, a company mostly known for its finance software, is buying Mailchimp for $12 billion
The owners of debtfreeguys.com and the Queer Money® podcast talked about how email helps their business
Thanks for joining me this week. We’re yet to see how iOS 15 will impact people who work with email, but one thing is for sure: The industry will keep evolving with the landscape around it.
See you next time,
Anna
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Anna from Revue
Anna from Revue @revue

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