Are open rates relevant in transactional email?

Since we run Newsberry, we’re very familiar with the importance of tracking statistics for your emails. Things like open rates, link clicks, unsubscribes, etc are an excellent gauge into how successful your marketing is and how high your ROI really is.

That said, I’ve been thinking a lot about the relevance of an open rate in transactional mail. For some emails, I think it’s not so important. For example, take a set of emails after making an online purchase (yep, there I go again). When I order something off of Amazon, I know and expect to receive an email almost immediately confirming my purchase. You know what, I never open it. I just need to see it show up, look at the subject, and mark it as read. Same thing goes for when my order has shipped.

Part of me feels that if you are super successful with your from name and subject, it’s great if people don’t even need to open your email. If we’re talking about building relationships here, I would argue that your customers may appreciate NOT having to open the email, just knowing what it says from the subject and moving on in their Inbox.

Now, of course, this is not for every transactional email. And no, I’m not saying we won’t implement open tracking in Postmark. All I’m thinking here is that there are different ways to look at transactional mail as opposed to marketing mail. Here’s a quick example:

From name: Amazon
Subject: Your Account
From name: Amazon online ordering
Subject: Confirmation of order ########

If both of these emails are in response to a recent purchase, wouldn’t you prefer to receive the second one from the retailer? The first is just confusing, requires me to open it to figure out what that is even about.

Any thoughts on this? Any other examples of emails that don’t NEED to be opened to be successful?