We’ve talked before about things that can artificially suppress open rates, and the dangers inherent in not being aware of the issues. And of course we’ve talked about the importance of continuing to monitor your open rates, even after iOS 15, because hey, the inbox providers continue to monitor them. Now we’re going to share with you a real-life story about how a business gave a loyal subscriber the boot because that subscriber was reading email without loading images, and so the business assumed they were inactive. Don’t make this mistake.

This “it really happened” story was shared with us by a colleague to whom it actually happened. They wrote to us that they had been dropped from a mailing list that they read regularly because they read in “no images rendered” mode, causing the sender to assume that they weren’t reading their email because the opens weren’t registering. And this is because, as our colleague was reading in “no images” mode, the 1×1 pixel image that the sender uses to track opens never fired. And this led the sender to believe that they weren’t opening the email, even though they were, and regularly.

How this Loyal Subscriber Got Dropped

Our colleague explains:

“I’m a member of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and get a couple of their email newsletters. I also read them in a relatively conservative mode (no images, etc.). Well, I just got this email from them:

“Your subscription to NFIB SmartBrief has been canceled due to inactivity over the past 12 months.

If this is a mistake, and you would like to reinstate your free subscription to NFIB SmartBrief, click on the link below to re-subscribe to this newsletter.

[link redacted]

To prevent this from occurring again and to ensure delivery of this newsletter to your inbox, please enable image loading in your email client and add nf**@sm********.com to your email address book or safe senders list.”

Loading their tracking images is a requirement for continuously getting their emails? Jeez!

What’s ironic is that this is one of the few newsletters that I do take the time to at least skim.”

Even more interesting is that when he went to resubscribe (and note that we consider the NFIB to be very lucky that he bothered to resubscribe), he discovered that they offer a text-only version, through which in theory they shouldn’t be able to track those open rates. (Although some “text only” mailing options do still include that 1×1 pixel.)

What to Do So This Doesn’t Happen

So what’s the lesson here? Well, there are a few, but one, for certain, is to be aware that there are things which can artificially suppress your open rates, and you need to take them into account whenever looking at open rates as an indicator of non-engagement.

Now, we’re the first ones to say “axe the non-openers” as generally they bring your deliverability down, but, and it’s an important ‘but’, don’t just completely axe them: axe them from your primary list, and conduct a re-engagement campaign with them. If the NFIB had done that with our colleague, they wouldn’t have given him both boots.

Loyal Subscriber Dropped for Failing to View Images

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