What is a Good Email Open Rate for Marketing Campaigns?

 

Lesson Transcript:

email-open-300x225Today I want to talk about another common question I’m often asked about email marketing.

“What is a good email open rate?”

Open rate is the percentage of people who open your email.

For example, if I send an email to 100 people and 10 of them open it, my open rate is 10%

There are all sorts of answers to this question and all sorts of “industry standards” available.

The average that I tend to see across numerous different businesses is:

A Good Email Open Rate Should Average 15 – 20%

But, there’s a problem with that number. It’s not a true representation of what your real open rate is.

Open rate is a bit of a flawed metric because of the way it’s measured.

When I send out an email using an email marketing service such as Aweber, MailChimp or iContact, they all measure open rate the same way.

Keep in mind that you can only measure open rate in html emails, not in text emails.

Open rate is measured by embedding an invisible, single-pixel image in the email. Then, when someone checks their email and opens the message, that image is downloaded from your email service provider.

The provider counts how many times that image was called after you sent your email.

If you send the email to 1,000 and that pixel was download 200 times, they will say you have a 20% open rate.

The reason this is a flawed metric is because most email clients, such as Outlook and Gmail, will block images by default. Just think about how often you read an email and actually clicking on that little button that says “download images.”

So imagine how many people will read YOUR email without clicking that button!

What this means is I can send an email to 1,000 people and 100 may open the email and click the “download images” button and those 100 will be counted as opened. But there may be another 50 people who open the message and read the text but never click the button.

My email service provider will tell me that I have an open rate of 10% when in fact it’s 15%

So when I say that the average open rate is 15 – 20%, that rate is probably actually substantially higher than that due to the large percentage of people who will read the message without downloading the images.

I want you to understand this so that when you’re looking at your open rates you will know that it’s not really an accurate representation of how many people actually opened your email.

How To Use Open Rate

So if it’s such a flawed statistic, how do you actually use it?

It’s pretty simple.

You establish a “control” with your list. What I mean by that is instead of looking at industry averages, you watch your open rate on your own emails. You figure out, on average, what your open rate is from your list.

If average for the last 10 emails you sent is a 15% open rate, that is your control. The point of having a control is that you are trying to beat it. If you send an email out and get a 20% open rate, then take a look at exactly what you did with that email that made the rate better.

Open rate isn’t a good metric to use to compare yourself to other businesses and other lists because different markets use email differently and their open rates will vary a lot.

Open rate IS a good metric to use to compare your current promotion to your past promotions.

You should be working to increase your own open rate and not worrying too much what’s going on in other markets.

That said, if you have a good size list and your open rate is substantially lower than that 15 – 20% average, you may have a problem that is worth investigating,.

So measure against yourself and constantly work to improve email open rate, but always keep in mind that the number isn’t perfectly accurate.

Hope you learned something!

Comments

  1. Hi Derek

    very surprised no posts here – this is quite an interesting point. I didn’t realise the non-html emails aren’t counted.

    I think your point about the control rate is worth making since it helps answer the question of how good is good?

    Cheers

    Angus

  2. I agree that the number will never be truly accurate. I had almost abandoned my list due to low open rates. This post reminded me that I need to get back to work.

    It gets pretty frustrating when I just cannot get the rate even up to 5%. I tell myself that email marketing is not for me, but I know I am leaving money on the table. I will have to work on my autoresponder starting today. Glad I read this post.

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