What happens after you send that email?

Metrics are the game for marketers.  We’re supposed to know know exactly what happens where.  We say that  100,000 emails are sent out. And that 10,000 people clicked through, resulting in 1,000 sales.  But what happens in-between is a blackhole.

This is important for multiple reasons

  • People are not homogeneous.  The better we understand users and their actions, the better we can segment them and target message recipients and content.
  • We sell branding as a key benefit of email campaigns.  So we need know not just who buys, but who views our message and how.

A survey by Iconix provides some data on how people actually use email. In general this is similar to social networks. (Indeed email was the first medium for networking.)  The asymptotic curve starts with a few heavy users who have hundreds or thousands of daily emails or network connections, which is more than balanced by an exponentially larger number of light users with a few daily emails or a small, tight network.

Among their findings:

  • Users receive an average of 25 emails a day. 27% are personal. … That’s not a lot of email.  If you have a broad consumer market, this is good news that your emails are likely not getting buried in most recipient mailboxes. Getting them read is another matter.
  • Just 6 percent of users read messages BOTH in preview and fully open views.  … So brevity is still important.  Make sure you identify yourself and your key message at the top of your email.
  • 75% (depending on the email client) of images are viewed. … The article calls that surprisingly high.  However it makes sense in light of the broad usage I suggest above.  Light email users will have  A. a higher percentage of personal messages that come from people in their address book and B. fewer messages and so more time to mark other senders as authorized.  This is supported by Gmail.  Their more business and tech-oriented  user base leads to users with more messages and the lowest image viewing rate among major ISPs.
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