What is the best way to measure whether communications were actually read?
Email opens, probably. Email opens are problematic because they're not very exact, but if you don't have actual CTAs on your email, then that'll be your best proxy.
It would be hard to say if an email was actually read unless someone takes your call to action. Marketo emails count as opened when a specific pixel in them is downloaded. If someone has their email client set to automatically download images, the pixel will automatically be downloaded and count as an open. This includes when someone just previews an email in Outlook or on mobile.
I would say clicks are a much stronger indicator for engagement and don't put too much weight into opens personally.
Hope that helps!
As Ed and Courtney mention, Opens are problematic. It's what I refer to as a "squishy" statistic. Because it's dependent on the 1x1 tracking pixel, you could have people open the email and immediately delete it or, you could have engaged people who clicked links but blocked images so no open is registered.
Your best bet would be to see who is engaged, look for the clicks. Even an unsubscribe shows that they read the email far enough to get to the unsubscribe link.
You could use Litmus for that. They have great analytics tool https://litmus.com/email-analytics
They get really granular and tell you whether people skimmed, glanced or read the email.
They are also great for testing your email templates/web pages in different email clients / web browsers.
Oier, to be clear, if images are not enabled Litmus does nothing.
It has some very cool logic to measure frequency, duration and other heuristics about tracking pixel downloads. But it can't do anything without images.
Yes of course, it depends on the 1pixel image like most of the systems out there.
I am unaware of any system tracking opens in a different way, is there any at all?
Nope, there's no other way to track. So Litmus can't accurately show the elusive metric people who opened my message, read at least some of it with piqued interest, but concluded they weren't interested. Litmus can help with the portion of that population that had images enabled, but can't tell us how big the other portion was.