Open Rates are dead. Long live Clickthrough Rates!

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There have been very good reasons that you have measured open rates for your emails. 

For example, how else would you know if your subject line resonated? How else would you know if you were sending on the right days or the right times of day? And mostly, how else would you know over time that you had an engaged audience of readers?

Hidden Pixels

The way in which we know someone has opened an email is because there’s a hidden pixel that loads and signals to your email program that the email has been opened. In other words, we are secretly lurking in people’s inboxes, mostly without them knowing it. 

If you’re concerned about privacy and internet security, then you don’t really want people secretly doing anything.  

Hey Apple

The folks at Basecamp created a new email product called Hey! And one of the things they did with their email was to block “spy trackers” coming from your email programs. Spy trackers! Not nice little pixels, but evil sneaky spies. 

Hey! is an outlier and minor blip in the world of email. But Apple isn’t. 

Starting about now, Apple is going to automatically trigger all of those pixels when they come into an Apple device’s email and “protect” you from the spying. 

People will now be able to opt-in to this feature. And while it can get a little technical to explain, the main point is that marketers will no longer know if someone really opened your email or not, and the open rate reporting from your carrier will be unreliable.  

“What's true about people today is that they want BOTH privacy AND personalization. They still want content that is targeted and messaging that speaks to their interests. Given Apple's changes, email marketers will likely need to focus even more on creating remarkably relevant content that drives their audiences to take action, versus experimenting with headlines just to see if they can get a click" —Will DeKrey, Group Product Manager of Campaigns @ Hubspot

(You can read more about the details of what Apple is doing here.)

If Open Rates Don’t Matter Anymore, What Does?

Click rate is the percentage of people who opened your email that clicked through. If the number of people who opened your email isn’t a reliable number, then the click through rate is no longer reliable either.

Clickthrough rate is the percentage of people who were delivered your email that clicked through. And in the end, action is what matters. 

When you send an email to get folks to register for your conference, what you care about is how many of those people make it to the registration page (and then how many of those visitors actually convert.) 

What this means for you is that you need to think much more about what people will click on and how you design your email to maximize those clicks. 

Your Clickthrough Rate Superpower

Guess what kind of content gets 1200% more shares than images or text? Guess which content gets people to spend 88% more time on web pages? 


People want to watch video more than they want to read text. That’s why adding video thumbnails to your emails is your Clickthrough Rate Superpower™.

Studies have shown that video can increase click-through rates by 200+%. But who cares about generic studies?! 

We are seeing it with our own eyes. 

For the first time, the American Society of Transplant Surgeons (ASTS)’s annual State of the Art Winter Symposium was presented as a virtual event. To maximize attendance, ASTS incorporated user-generated video into their marketing strategy. 

By optimizing their event invitation email with a simple and authentic video from the Chair of the Winter Symposium Planning Committee, ASTS achieved 320% more clicks, increased attendance 6% year-over-year, and delivered a 7.5x return on investment.

You can read the ASTS Case Study here.


It is urgent to think about how to make your email programs continue to perform and video plays a central role in that. By creating systems to capture video content all year long, you can have enough of the right content to include in nearly all of your email communication.

Learn more about how associations, nonprofit organizations and businesses are using video to drive their marketing performance. 

With Gather Voices, organizations are embedding video capture into their event and course registration, membership renewal process and onboarding to gain an edge. Schedule a demo today to see for yourself.

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