How We Used 250ok to See If Our Subscribers Are Actually Reading Our Emails

250ok gave us deeper email metrics than a standard ESP - and what we learned from their analytics surprised us.

IMGE Studies Marketing

When you’re looking at the performance of your email marketing efforts, you can see how many users opened, and how many clicked. But have you ever wondered how many of your users read your email?

We did – and that’s why we decided to run a study on one of our biggest email lists with 250ok.

What is 250ok?

Since 2011, 250ok has been one of the premier and most widely used email deliverability and analytic tools for digital marketers. Their services include deliverability analytics, recipient engagement, address validation, design testing, and DMARC.

In March of 2020, 250ok was acquired by Validity, a holding company that specializes in customer data quality. Their products, aside from 250ok, include BriteVerify and ReturnPath.

Our particular interest? 250ok’s speciality suite of engagement metrics – including one that measures how long subscribers viewed our content.

How We Set Up Our 250ok Study

For this case study, we utilized the HTML Tracking Pixel integration in 250ok. Using this tracking pixel, we were able to see if our readers “glanced,” “skimmed,” or “read” our content.

Here’s the breakdown of what those classifications mean:

  • Read = subscriber views content for 8 or more seconds
  • Skimmed = subscriber views content for 2 or more seconds, but less than 8 seconds
  • Glanced = subscriber views content for less than 2 seconds

We partnered with a major email newsletter and spent two weeks analyzing the performance of one of their largest email lists. These users receive one daily digest newsletter per day, and occasional long-form content. All in all, our dataset included information from over 27M individual emails.

Our hypothesis? We suspected that a larger percentage of email campaigns would only meet the view time classification of  “glanced” or “skimmed,” and a much smaller percentage would meet the “read” classification.

What We Learned from Our 250ok Study

The first lesson we learned from our study: we were wrong!

A majority of subscribers that opened our emails fell under the “Read” classification. This was true not only for the highly engaging newsletter content, but also for the more demanding long-form content.

For Digested Newsletter Content, we found that the average behavior of users who opened our emails were:

Read: 60.03%

Skimmed: 34.11%

Glanced: 5.92%

For Long-Form Content, we found that the average behavior of users who opened our emails were:

Read: 58.19%

Skimmed: 36.77%

Glanced: 5%

Our second lesson: As marketers, it’s important to remember that our assumptions might not always be accurate about our subscribers. Running regular testing and utilizing email engagement tools like 250ok gives you critical insights about your audience. It’s also part of why we recommend real-time reporting. You need to make strategic choices based on the actual data, not based on your hunches about what the data probably is.

And, finally: don’t underestimate your subscribers. Remember that your audience is making an effort to read and engage with your content. In our study, the majority of readers were willing to give us at least eight seconds of their attention. It’s imperative that you make those first eight seconds great. Your lead needs to be effective.

Want to see some of the other digital marketing studies we’ve run at IMGE? Check out our comprehensive study on the SMS campaigns of presidential candidates, or our investigation into whether email providers suppressed Republican candidates in the 2018 elections.

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