When an email recipient opens an email, is Marketo only able to count it as an Open if the images load and show up for that recipient? The article below says that Marketo only registers an Open if images are loaded. It uses Gmail's "Display Images" (does this option still exist in Gmail?) as an example : Can I trust my Marketo email open rates?
Also, I've heard that if a recipient sees an email loads in the preview pane in Outlook, Marketo registers that action as an Open, even though the recipient might just delete it then and there.
Can anyone provide some insight on these points? Thanks.
You are right, but this is not specific to Marketo. Almost all emailing systems have the same flaws as they all rely on the download of a tracker pixel image.
Open rates are not reliable.
Yet, they can be useful as a tendency or in an A/B test: their evolution over time with comparable content on similar targets is meaningful, since the image settings and email client statistic distribution remains the same.
Rather than say "this is the number of people who opened" I frame it as "this is the MINIMUM number of people". We know at least that many people opened it but more might not have images turned on or they might have viewed through a preview pane.
Unfortunately, you cannot even be sure of the fact that this is a minimum . As Greg pointed out, Outlook can also send back false positives.
Not just a question of images enabled/disabled but HTML/text client as well.
And yes, downloading images in the quarter-second while a delete is processing doesn't mean the lead actually read the email. Anti-spam software can also download tracking pixels without human intervention, so some "Opens" weren't user-facing at all.
Hi Greg J. -
For the reasons stated by Greg M. and Sandford, it's a pet peeve of mine that Marketo (and most of the rest of the world - alas!) insists upon placing so much emphasis on Opens - particularly the Clicks to Opens ratio (as opposed to the Clicks to Delivered ratio, which is useful). Since Opens cannot be accurately measured, evaluating an email based on Clicks as a percentage of Opens is simply meaningless - because it's not accurate. What Opens can be useful for is to give an indication of deliverability issues. For example, if you have a fairly consistent Open rate over time and suddenly it plummets, you might have a deliverability problem. I have a detailed write-up on this on my web site here - TargetRight Marketing - see the middle of the page where it says "A Cautionary Word About Opens."
when you are talking about deliverability here, I gather you are talking about inbox deliverability, and not the server deliverability that is measured otherwise by Marketo together with the hard & soft bounces.
For future readers of this post, Inbox deliverability is about the capability of you emails to sneak through the anti-spam and other inbox filters / rules such as gmail categories, for instance.
Yes - but it's not limited to inbox deliverability. If the email is trapped by an ISP or recipient server spam filter this fact won't necessarily show up as a bounce statistic. Spam filters often simply trap the email silently - i.e., without communicating back any indication of the fact.
This what I meant I just wanted to point out that your definition of deliverability is different from the one that is provided by Marketo. It is about the real capability for the human addressee to see your email. And I do agree with the fact and a sudden evolution over time of the open rate can be linked to a deliverability (per your definition) issue.
I guess you are pointing out that in a Marketo Email Performance Report, the assumption is that an email is "delivered" if it doesn't register as a bounce? That's a good point and I agree. And that's the way all the other Email Service Providers I've ever worked with define it too. There isn't much choice since there's no way to know if the email is swallowed silently.
We should probably also mention that Marketo's Email Deliverability add-on product helps measure actual inbox delivery (as well as display compatibility).