Is The Email ‘Click-Through Rate’ Obsolete?

Is the Email ‘Click-Through Rate’ ObsoleteIt’s a head spinner, to be sure. The pace of change, that is. Just when marketers think they have something nailed down, it moves — and sometimes it moves big.

According to a blog post by Jordan Cohen at the eMail Insider (a MediaPost feature), only four years ago just 9% of email marketing messages were opened on mobile devices.

“Fast-forward to Q1 of 2014, and according to research from my company, now 66 percent of email marketing messages are opened on mobile (47 percent on smartphone, 19 percent on tablet),” Cohen says.

Cohen cites another interesting fact. In Q2 of 2013, desktops were the primary devices used to open emails in 24 of the 50 U.S states. Just three quarters later, there are only 13 states left where this is the case.

While smartphone opens have been relatively level over the past year, Cohen says, tablet opens have grown by 31 percent, and “these devices are poised to overtake desktops as the household “PC of record” that people use when they get home from work.”

Cohen thinks change is — again — on the way. And whether marketers like it or not.

“The time has come for email marketers to understand that they are optimizing for a metric that is no longer the be-all and end-all that it once was: the click-through rate,” Cohen writes. “Consumers aren’t clicking on images and links in email the way they used to. Now, they are tapping, scanning, and glancing. As such, these are the new metrics for which marketers should be optimizing.”

Cohen suggests other ways of gauging success, including the tap-through rate, the scan rate, and the glance-through rate.

“To optimize tap-through rates, make sure buttons and images are large enough to tap on, and make the tap-through lead users to a “next-best step” through tactics like taking users to an m-site, deep linking to installed mobile apps, or even presenting a one tap click-to-call option for ordering your products while consumers are on the go,” says Cohen.

When it comes to the scan-through rate, Cohen notes that several studies show that as many as two-thirds of mobile shoppers complete their transactions offline.

“Capture mobile, email-driven, point-of-sale conversions at brick-and-mortar stores by using single column layouts when emails are opened on smartphones,” Cohen suggests. “Include bar codes that take up the width of the screen for easy scanning at the register.”

And then there’s the glance-through rate.

“In a multi-device world, expect to see more and more consumers open email on one device, and then convert on another,” Cohen says. “New email-conversion-tracking technology will allow you to capture this information, and give you an understanding of how many initial impressions made on a smartphone result in a conversion on desktops or tablets (and vice versa). First impressions are important, and can make the difference between getting that second open and conversion, or being deleted or forgotten.”

Retire the click-through rate? Maybe not today. But soon, says Cohen.

“The time to optimize for “next steps” other than clicks is now,” Cohen believes.

To read the whole post — and some great reader comments — click here.