Why Focusing Only on Email Open Rates Can Be Misleading

As a benefit broker owner, you have your finger on the pulse of a vast array of KPIs, metrics, and data points. One metric that often gets a lot of attention is the email open rate. But why focusing only on email open rates can be misleading? Let’s dive deep into this topic.

What are Email Open Rates?

Email open rates are a simple and straightforward indicator of how many of the emails you blast out are actually getting glimpsed at. As the name suggests, an open rate is simply the percentage of total recipients who opened the email you sent. For many, it is viewed as a measure of an email campaign’s success.

Why Focusing Only on Email Open Rates Can be Misleading

It is indeed essential to track open rates as part of your overall email marketing strategy, but focusing solely on them can give you a skewed perception of the effectiveness of your campaigns. Here’s why focusing only on email open rates can be misleading:

Email Open Rates Don’t Indicate Quality Engagement

An open email is not necessarily a read email, it doesn’t guarantee active engagement. Someone may open an email, skim through it and immediately trash it. It only says that your subject line was enticing enough to prompt an open, not that the content was compelling, or valuable. From a sales perspective, an email that is opened but not read or acted upon is as good as unopened.

Open Rates Don’t Necessarily Translate to Click-Through Rates

Even if a recipient opens your email, it doesn’t mean they’ll click on any links within. Important metrics to consider along with open rates are click-through rates (CTR), which indicate a deeper level of engagement. It is a true indicator that your content was not only read but it was compelling enough to trigger action.

Inaccuracy of Open Rate Calculations

How email providers determine whether an email is ‘opened’ can be pretty unreliable and inconsistent. Some email providers consider an email opened when the preview pane is used; others require the recipient to actually click into the email. These disparities make open rate a potentially inaccurate metric.

Email Open Rates Lack Context

Email open rates can be misleading because they lack any context. They do not reflect the complexity of a buyer’s journey. An email open rate doesn’t tell you if a prospect is just curious, or seriously considering purchasing your appointment-setting services.

Focusing on a Holistic Approach

As a benefit broker, your ultimate goal is probably to close deals and generate revenue. Hence, it is crucial to focus on other fundamental metrics along with email open rates. These could be conversion rates, bounce rates, overall ROI of your marketing campaigns, or tracking how many individuals took a favorable action like signing up for an event or setting an appointment.

To truly gauge the success of your email marketing campaign, you need to follow a holistic approach. Measure other metrics alongside open rates to get a granular view of your audience’s behavior and the effectiveness of your strategies. It can also provide actionable insights that can be used to improve your future marketing efforts.


While open rates give an indication of the initial level of interest in your emails, they don’t reveal the full story. Relying solely on email open rates to inform your email marketing strategy is a narrow and potentially deceptive tactic. It’s more beneficial to use open rates as one of many tools in your analytics toolbox to create, refine, and assess your email marketing strategy as a whole.

Ultimately, looking at broader measurements of engagement, such as click-rate, conversions, sales, and overall ROI will give you a more accurate picture of your email campaign’s effectiveness and the value of your appointment-setting services.

Remember, email marketing is not about reaching as many people as possible; it’s about reaching the right people and inspiring them to take action. So, don’t let yourself fall into the trap of why focusing only on email open rates can be misleading.