Feeling Ignored? Your ‘Deleted Before Reading’ Rate Might Be the Problem
No one likes when their hard work is ignored, especially after you’ve spent significant time and effort on your email campaigns. So why would you risk having subscribers send your messages straight to trash without even reading them? Unfortunately, most email service providers aren’t telling you when this happens, but if your readers are ignoring you, wouldn’t you want to know?
Your “deleted before reading” rate is the total amount of unread, deleted messages out of all of the emails you send. Not only can it impact your deliverability, but it can provide you with important insights on campaign success and subscriber sentiment.
If a subscriber deletes your message before reading, they’re actively telling you they’re not interested. They’ve seen your message, but something about your brand or its content doesn’t resonate with them. Deleting before reading can be a signal of worse things to come, and if you’re not careful it can turn into a complaint or unsubscribe. Mailbox providers are also using this metric to monitor subscriber satisfaction. They may begin to filter your future campaigns because of a consistently high deleted before reading rate. Having a low deleted before reading rate is not only a positive indicator that you’re sending engaging and desirable content, but it also increases your chances of reaching the inbox.
According to Return Path’s Hidden Metrics of Email Deliverability report, major retail categories showed a higher-than-average deleted before reading rate, indicating this may be a big issue for many retailers. The report also showed that in 2015, apparel and general merchandise senders had a 10 percent deleted before reading rate, only 1 percent higher than the national average. However, retailers focusing on pet products, office supplies, flowers and gifts had a deleted before reading rate around 13 percent to 14 percent, the highest of all the categories analyzed. Retailers already face tough competition in the inbox, and a high deleted before reading rate can put you at a disadvantage.
A high deleted before reading rate on a particular campaign can signal a dud, but if it’s consistently high your subscribers are showing a general disinterest with your brand's email program. So what can you do to improve your deleted before reading rate? Having a strong understanding of subscriber preferences can help you send more engaging email. Conduct testing to determine what your subscribers want and then make adjustments to lure them back. Some key aspects of campaigns that you can test include the following:
- Subject line: A subject line is the ultimate “first impression” and has a huge impact on whether subscribers will read your message. Test different keywords, offers and subject line styles. For example, try a subject line that offers value vs. one that creates a sense of urgency.
- Send frequency: If you don’t send enough email, your subscribers won’t know who you are. And if you send too much, they may start to view your brand as a spammer. Test for the right frequency and give your subscribers an option to update their sending preferences.
- Send time: Some days may be busier inbox days than others. Change up the days and times you send your messages to try to reach the customer at the perfect time — i.e., when they’re in the inbox.
Looking at the changes in deleted before reading rate while you test your campaigns can give you a better idea of how to better connect with your subscribers. As you tailor campaigns to these preferences, you'll likely see higher engagement, which will decrease your deleted before reading rate and increase your chances of reaching the inbox.
Tom Sather is the senior director of research at Return Path, an email marketing solution that helps to improve deliverability and ROI.