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Janet Roberts

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By Janet Roberts

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When you send a newsletter, you'll get the greatest number of opens in the first 24 hours after you send it. Unless, of course, you send on Friday afternoons to a business audience, most of whom have either flown the coop for the weekend or are trying to.

When you're figuring out your open rate for a particular issue, though, how long should you wait for readers to get around to opening your newsletter? That's what an Ezine-Tips reader is wondering.

Measuring Open Rates

"What do you recommend for a cut-off number of days for measuring open rates?" asked Lorinda Hanson, creative director at Geoffrey Carlson Gage LLC of Excelsior, Minn.

"I'm guessing that if readers haven't opened it within 5 to 7 business days, they aren't going to. Are there any stats to back this up?"

As with the question from last week about unsubscribe rates, there isn't a strict industry guideline. You're probably better off measuring your own results over several publishing cycles and seeing how you compare to past performance.

(Did you miss last week's Ezine-Tip? Find it here)

When Do You Stop Counting?

This answer depends on how often and on which day you send your newsletter, the time of year and what else might be going on with your audience, especially if you send to a highly targeted group.

I couldn't find any standards or guidelines on open rates over time. Our own record shows most of the readers who open our Ezine- Tips HTML version do it within the first 12 hours after we send. We get another bump 24 to 48 hours after we send.

My own theory is that business email readers will open newsletters faster than consumer readers, because they have to check their email at least once a day. Consumer users who don't rely on email for essential information might go a day or more between checking.

So, the best thing to do is to track your own performance daily for at least three publishing cycles, and at different times of the year.

If you send out monthly, you probably won't find much activity after the first two weeks, but you never know until you start watching it.

You can do this most easily if you send HTML email using a list- management service that tracks open rates. Check your statistical report once a day and chart any changes for every day in the cycle, until the next time you send.

This advice is mainly for senders of HTML email. Technically, you can't count open rates using text format unless you ask readers to click a link. Even then, you won't be able to distinguish between those who opened but didn't click and those who didn't open.

If you have figured out how to do that, tell me.

Your Chance to Speak Out

I haven't been able to publish as many reader comments as I did when we were still sending out the daily tip. That hasn't stopped some of you from sending in your views, and I thank you.

However, I'm planning a big feedback issue for next week, barring any last-minute upheavals in the email-publishing world. If you have comments on what you've seen in Ezine-Tips (go on, open up those old ones you saved for later!), send 'em in.

Ezine-Tips for November 04, 2003

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