Introducing The 'Render Rate'

As an email marketer, publisher, email service provider or other participant in the email industry, you have a chance to help shape the development of an important new metric: the render rate, as proposed by the Measurement Accuracy Roundtable of the Email Experience Council.

The "render rate" is a new industry-wide metric created to measure the initial level of email engagement more accurately and consistently than the open rate.

The Roundtable, which I co-chair along with Luke Glasner, has developed a set of definitions and standards for using the render rate in different measurement scenarios (such as unique and total render rate, unique and total actions that include clicks even when the email doesn't render, etc.).

Now that we have gone public with the render rate, we're moving into the next phase in the process to gain feedback and finalize it as the industry standard. We're soliciting comments and buy-in from key sectors in the email industry, including email marketers, publishers, email/marketing service providers and others with a stake in the industry.

That's where we need your help. Visit the EEC blog and download the render-rate document; read it and post your comments on the blog. Roundtable members will read and consider all constructive comments as we finalize our documentation for the final stage.

Why It's Time for a Change

If you read any of my related Email Insider columns from last year --  "Why the Open Rate Must Die" and  "Email Open Rates: What's the Alternative?"  -- you'll know that replacing the open rate was met with skepticism from many people.

The Roundtable included vocal proponents for and against the open rate. From the outset all agreed that inconsistencies in how the metric is calculated, and how the term "open rate" is used, have become an Achilles heel for the industry that needed to be addressed. As we spent months in discussions, we sought to clarify these inconsistencies in order to propose the adoption of more technically accurate, strategic and standardized measures that benefit the overall industry and community of email marketers.

We unanimously agreed that the render rate improves on the open rate in two key ways:



  •     It more accurately reflects the way email users currently view and interact with email: affected by image blocking, wide adoption of preview panes, and the explosive growth of email being read on HTML and image-unfriendly mobile devices.

  •     It can become a catalyst to establish an industry standard so that marketers can have greater confidence in benchmarking against competitors and peers.

    The Last Step: Adopting the Render Rate as the Standard

    This is really the crucial process. Once the final definitions are published, we hope that email marketers begin adopting them as standard measurements for their email program. If you are an ESP or marketing service provider, we will ask you to incorporate these metrics into your standard reports.

    This doesn't mean you have to scrap the open rate if you find it measures your progress reliably in meeting your business goals. We're not enacting a law or lifetime ban here. But we are hoping you'll see the light and refer to render rates when speaking to your peers and management.

    Again, to learn the details of the render rate and how it is calculated, please visit the EEC blog (see link above) and don't forget to post your comments.

    Finally, Luke and I would like to extend special thanks to a few Roundtable members who worked extra hard on this project: John Caldwell, Morgan Stewart, Adam Covati, Chad White, Stephanie Miller and David Daniels, who first initiated the need for standards several years ago. On behalf of our Roundtable members, I thank you in advance and look forward to your feedback.

    We also welcome discussion on Twitter: @eec_measurement -- and, of course, on the comments section below.

    Until next time, take it up a notch.

  • 4 comments about "Introducing The 'Render Rate' ".
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    1. Steve Daggers from International Code Council, January 29, 2009 at 10:39 a.m.

      How do you measure views in a pane, etc. My blast vendor tells me they can only measure opens.

    2. Loren McDonald from IBM Marketing Cloud, January 29, 2009 at 11:58 a.m.

      Steve - This is the whole point of the our initiative.

      Renders are measured when the tracking image loads on the server. If a recipient has images enabled and views the email in their preview pane, then that message would be counted as rendered (or opened in the old lexicon).

      If images are blocked/disabled - then even if the message is fully opened or viewed in a preview pane - it will not be counted as an open/render.


    3. John Caldwell from, January 29, 2009 at 12:19 p.m.

      Uh oh, somebody used the "b-word"!

      Watch for an eec initiative to remove "blast" from the email lexicon!

    4. Rebecca Lane from Independent, February 27, 2009 at 10:16 a.m.

      Does anyone have any input on rendering html emails in entourage and other mac interfaces? we follow the best practices for html rendering very closely but evidently we are having issues in this area...

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