More than 99% of consumers check their email every day.
Businesses use email as a highly effective marketing strategy and a powerful communication tool.
Email marketing offers a powerful method of nurturing leads, increasing online sales, and improving customer loyalty. The following benefits can also be achieved with proper planning and flawless execution:
- Connect you with customers and prospects and help you engage them meaningfully
- Increase the number of visitors to your website, blog, and e-commerce store
- Increase online sales by showing customers the right products
- Make information relevant, personalized, and timely for customers
Furthermore, email marketing can reduce your marketing costs while generating up to 4400% in return on investment. Social media does not even come close to this number!
It is only through effective email campaigns that your brand can realize these benefits. A key performance indicator (KPI) will help you determine whether this is happening. You will know whether your campaign is a success – or not – if you set the right KPIs, measure performance after launch, and then compare what is with what should be.
To understand how many people read and engage with your email, consider how many people open it. Email open rate is also known as email response rate.
How do you calculate email open rates (or average email open rates)?
In what way is it measured?
What is the importance of measuring it?
How do you determine if an email open rate is “good”?
Does the open rate of emails differ by industry? Does the industry have an average open rate for emails?
What are some ways to improve the open rate of your brand’s emails?
This detailed guide will provide the answers to all these questions and more.
Now let’s begin!
Open Rate for Emails – What Is It? What Factors Are Considered?
It is important to measure metrics such as click through rates, unsubscribes, spam complaints, and forwards in an effective email marketing campaign. In the event that you are not getting your emails opened in the first place, these numbers will mean nothing at all. You should and can track your email open rate for this reason.
You won’t need to manually calculate your email open rates when using leading Email Service Providers (ESPs) like Salesforce Marketing Cloud, HubSpot, Mailchimp, 171mails, etc. On specific email campaign reports, you can find this metric, which helps you determine if there are any actions you need to take to improve performance. The source of the figure, however, should be understood.
As a percentage, the open rate of your emails depends on how many recipients open your emails in relation to the volume of email you send.
Basically, it measures how many people opened your email.
The formula is as follows:
Open Rate = Unique Opens / (Number of Emails Sent – Number of Bounces)
You can calculate the open rate of a campaign if 100 emails are sent, 90 make it through to your readers, and 10 are opened:
10/(100-90) = 10%
How Do You Define “Good” Email Open Rates?
A campaign’s average open rate can also illustrate how well your campaign performs against its KPIs and how you compare to your competitors. Your email open rates can be benchmarked against averages in your industry: are they slightly above, slightly below, or about the same as the average? Taking these steps can help you improve your results in the future.
A campaign is generally considered successful if its open rate is between 15% and 25%. Across all industries, the average open rate in 2020 was 18%. 2021 saw a 21.5% increase.
This increase has a reason. This is due to Apple’s MPP, which allows users to hide their location and IP address. In addition, tracking pixels are downloaded regardless of whether or not users open the email. This makes it impossible to track open rates accurately.
Although there are many variations between industries, there are some general trends that persist:
- A larger subscriber list usually results in a lower open rate
- Email open rates are typically high for organizations that cater to enthusiasts and supporters (such as sports teams)
- There is a greater open rate for emails on niche topics than for emails on broader topics
Comparing your average email open rate with these benchmarks can be helpful depending on your industry, so you can figure out what works best with your audience, identify gaps in your email strategy, and adjust segmentation tactics, template designs, copy, frequency, send times, etc., accordingly.
It is important to note that B2B email open rates are slightly lower than B2C. Despite this, they have a higher click-through rate than B2C.
There’s one more thing to consider. A true realistic goal for your open rates may not entirely be achievable if you don’t know the average open rate for your industry. You should also benchmark your own results from the past and present. The next section discusses this process.
What You Need To Know About Benchmarking Your Own Average Email Open Rate
Step 1: Analyze your recent email open rates
During the past three to twelve months, review every email you have sent. Analysis of emails over a longer period can be done by going back further. Each email’s open rate over the period should be charted.
Step 2: Determine the average number of opens per quarter
Dividing the total number of emails sent during that time frame by the average open rate of each email will give you the total open rate. Your baseline should be this.
Step 3: Determine which emails are “outliers”
Look at specific dips and rises over the calculation period. Did a particular email perform really well or really poorly? Try to find out why.
Step 4: Analyze the data for patterns
Identify any key patterns you see in groups of emails. What was the success rate of a particular topic, for example? Is there a particular type of email? Are there any advantages to sending emails at particular times or on certain days? Was there a difference in performance between certain subject lines?
To improve future campaigns, you will find this information very helpful.
Step 5: Determine future campaign goals
In order to improve your future campaigns, use the data you have about past campaigns (as well as the benchmark data for your industry) to make improvements.
Make your goals SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based). Let’s begin by answering this question: By what percentage do you want to improve your open rate over the baseline?
Your Email Open Rates Can Be Improved With These 7 Time-Tested Strategies
You may have one or more of the following issues if your email open rates are low:
- The subject line of your email is irrelevant or uninteresting to your recipients
- A majority of your audience does not respond to your emails because they are a diverse group of subscribers
- It appears you are sending too many or too few emails (either you are sending too many or too few).
These strategies can definitely help you raise your email open rates, regardless of whether you seek to improve your internal KPIs or industry benchmarks.
1. Subject lines need to be improved
You can encourage readers to open your emails with an intriguing, creative, funny, or succinct subject line. Subscribers pay most attention to the subject line since it is the first thing they see, so it makes all the difference between “I want to read more!” and “This looks like crap. Delete!”
Using common language or spammy words in your subject line will be ignored, as will subject lines that do not connect emotionally with readers.
Make sure your subject line is unique and interesting to encourage readers to open your emails. Make sure you choose your copy carefully, and include emotion or humor.
Personalized subject lines increase open rates by 26% in emails sent to individual readers.
If you know the reader personally, mention their name or company, or mention a fact that is personal to them. Getting this message across is easy with subject line personalization.
The length should not exceed 70 characters. The reader should be able to understand the value of the content almost immediately if you use a phrase or piece of information (“what’s in it for me”). When they open the email, tell them what to expect.
You can also increase open rates with these time-tested subject line best practices:
- Don’t be afraid to use a friendly tone and have a conversation
- Punctuation should be limited to three marks
- If you want to maintain credibility and trustworthiness, don’t use all caps and exclamation points all the time.
- You should also stay away from words like “IMPORTANT!!! It’s a sale!” or “It’s a sale!” Discounts! An ongoing sale.”. Use phrases like this to sound desperate (and suspicious!)
To improve email open rates, incentives can also be added to subject lines:
- With purchases over $300, you’ll receive a free personalized mug
- If you spend $100 or more, you get free shipping.
- The fourth purchase will be discounted by 30% when you buy three.
You can encourage readers to open your emails by using incentive-driven subject lines, but ensure that you don’t overwhelm them. Too many incentives will result in confusion and irritability among recipients, lowering open rates. Also, be sure to add a warm, human-sounding copy to all emails regarding savings, offers, and products.
Final step: record a preview of your email, including some words from the subject line and body. Your email will be more likely to be opened if your description is concise and to-the-point.
2. Segment Your Audience
- Is the email being sent to a homogeneous group of people?
- Is your email even of interest to them?
- What is the relevance, interest, or timing of your emails?
You shouldn’t be surprised if your email open rates are mediocre if you answered “Yes” to Q1, but “I’m not sure” or “No” to Q2 and Q3.
Your email marketing campaigns are more likely to be successful if you segment your list based on interests, purchase history, location, etc. Open rates are highest for these emails.
There is a 14.31% increase in opens for segmented email campaigns compared to non-segmented email campaigns.
In addition to increasing conversion rates, segmenting your audience will also help you build meaningful, trustworthy connections over time.
It is very likely that you will alienate a large percentage of your audience if you fail to segment your audience first. Who will then be frustrated by irrelevant content and stop opening your emails as a result?
Useful tips for audience segmentation (that boosts email open rates):
- Don’t micro-segment, but concentrate on a few groups and a smaller market.
- Be sure to segment your list to include a wide range of potential subscribers. It would be a waste of time if you created multiple emails for different groups of people
- To determine if a segmented campaign has succeeded, define the goals and then analyze its performance.
- Improve segments as necessary and strive for constant improvement
- Engage your customers via a variety of channels (like social media, videos, blog posts, etc.) to increase the chances of their opening your emails.
3. Instead of buying email addresses, build an opt-in email list
To get maximum attention in minimum time and at minimum cost, it can be tempting to buy a ready-made list of email addresses. Email open rates cannot be improved by buying an email list. The reason is as follows:
“Unqualified subscribers” are those who do not know you or your business. Consequently, they will probably not care about you or want to receive your emails. You run the risk of them either deleting or marking your emails as “spam” when they receive them in their inboxes. Furthermore, it is highly likely that some email addresses were already heavily spammed by the time they were purchased. A marketing outreach to them is also ineffective or likely to be deemed non-responsive. All these situations will result in low open rates. Sending emails to these addresses will also waste your marketing resources.
Sending emails from bought email lists is not allowed by reputable email service providers. It will be difficult to achieve good deliverability if you use an ESP with shared IP addresses to get around this issue. Using the same IP address as one company’s purchased email list can lead to delivery problems for other companies using the same email list. Your average open rate will decrease since fewer emails will reach subscribers’ inboxes. As a result of poor deliverability and low open rates, emails sent to purchased lists often fall into spam traps. You will also lose your Sender Score, and your IP address and company will have a negative impact on their reputations.
The alternative is to build a list of “opt-in” email subscribers organically, which can increase your open rates over time. A positive reputation is also protected, and it allows you to establish genuine relationships with customers. Here are some ideas to try:
- To get people to subscribe to your mailing list (and then open your emails), create gated assets like ebooks, white papers, templates, etc.
- Encourage people to sign up for your emails by promoting these assets on your website or business blog
- Ensure that readers can easily share these assets by including CTAs and sharing buttons
To ensure that you are only sending emails to people who are actually interested in your messages, you should scrub your email list regularly. Do not send emails to recipients who haven’t opened any emails in a certain amount of time. The result will be an email list that reflects an engaged list filled with quality leads and readers who are interested in what you’re sending.
Re-engagement campaigns can also be used to clear your list by weeding out readers who are not interested in your messages.
Alternatively, you can move subscribers to another list you only email occasionally if they do not re-engage.
In conclusion, if you buy email lists for marketing purposes, you violate the laws of consent under the GDPR law of the European Union, as well as other national/international data privacy/anti-spam laws that may lead to prosecution. This leads us to…
4. Abide By All Email Marketing Laws Related To User And Data Privacy
The CAN-SPAM Act (U.S.) and GDPR (Europe) must be followed for high email open rates (Europe).
In order to comply with CAN-SPAM, follow these guidelines:
- Provide a clear and obvious way to unsubscribe from every email
- Use “From,” “To,” and “Reply to” addresses
- Avoid sender names like “no-reply” or “company.com”
- Never sell or transfer email addresses to another list
- Include a valid physical postal address in every email
Increasing your email open rate and complying with GDPR is as simple as including an opt-in checkbox that hasn’t already been checked on your email. Let them choose whether to receive your emails themselves. Using a pre-checked box will never force them to make a decision for themselves. By doing this, you will ensure that only people interested in your messages will be added to your subscriber list. Email opens as well as click-throughs can be improved this way.
Keeping your emails safe from spam filters and improving their deliverability will ensure that you avoid getting into trouble with the law and keep your open rates high. As a result, a reputable ESP (see #3 above) is one of the most important strategies to consider. To make sure your emails don’t end up in subscribers’ spam folders, here are some more proven tips:
- Your emails should only be sent to recipients who have opted in
- Use a reputed and reliable IP address, and send emails from a verified domain that has never been used by a spammer before
- Custom authentication should always be used
- You should keep the code of your email template clean
- Shortening URLs should be avoided
- Merge tags can be used to customize the “To:” field
- Subscribing to your emails should be explicitly requested by subscribers
- Subject lines should never be misleading. “Bait-and-switch” tactics may fool a reader once. The more you do it, the closer you get to spam hell!
5. Design and copy of all email communications should be optimized
If your email is long winded or if you don’t include clear call to actions (CTAs), your open rate will suffer. The majority of people prefer emails that are short, concise and clearly focused, and that appear specially tailored to them. A personalized email and a faster scan will increase the likelihood of them opening the email and taking action via the CTA. Deliverability and open rates will be affected as well if there is too much copy.
Taking a look at an email example, here’s a great one:
When compared to generic emails, personalized emails deliver 6X higher conversion rates.
Copy that is personalized must take into account your buyer persona’s needs, values, pain points, likes, and dislikes. Create bespoke copy that addresses their specific challenges or includes a value proposition that’s unique to them by addressing them by their first names, including tailored offers based on their purchase history or demographics. Personalized product recommendations, bundles, and limited-time promotions are great ways to boost email open rates.
You can also increase open rates by adding alt text to all images, including CTA images. This helps readers understand what they’re reading even if their email client blocks images by default, or if the HTML doesn’t render correctly. A click and action can also be understood by them. An image or button will appear blank without ALT text. Your emails will be ignored by them because they will be confused and frustrated.
Be sure to include a few visible text links along with your main CTAs and images. Opens and engagement are increased as a result. In addition to placing clickable elements above the fold and at the beginning of your email, you can also make it more open- and click-friendly. Mobile users can benefit from this for increasing open rates.
In addition, all emails should be mobile-friendly.
According to research, 69% of mobile users delete emails that don’t respond to their screens.
Mobile-optimized email campaigns can boost conversions, engagement, and even sales if they aren’t optimized.
Reducing image file sizes and ensuring all CTA buttons and links are larger than 45-57 pixels can increase the responsiveness of your email templates. Make sure all links, images, and buttons are functioning properly. The last thing you should do is use short subject lines, insert preheader text, and maintain a well-organized text block when you write the copy.
If your subscribers’ email clients don’t support HTML-rich emails or are interested in reading plain text only, create text versions of your emails. Whenever you send plain-text emails, you should also optimize them, otherwise, they’ll be a garbled mess that readers won’t want to open, much less read. Remove unnecessary text, shorten tracking URLs, and keep the body simple. You may get caught in spam filters if you change the actual copy too much.
You can also boost open rates with these additional copy and design strategies:
- Email copy should be written in the same way that you would talk to someone face-to-face (e.g. your best friend).
- Provide visual breaks by breaking up long emails into multiple sections
- Each email should contain at least one obvious CTA. As long as the reader doesn’t feel overwhelmed or confused by multiple CTAs, multiple CTAs are fine
- Above the fold, for example, is a good place to place the CTA
- Make your email more appealing by adding social sharing buttons
6. Timing is everything
You can influence your subscribers’ open rates by timing and frequency of your emails. You should also consider these factors when calculating other results, such as clickthrough rates and conversion rates.
Are there any “best” days to send marketing emails?
The results of different studies differ. The rate of open emails on Fridays is 18.9%, while the rate on Saturdays is 17.3%, according to a campaign monitor study. Tuesdays, however, are the most popular open days according to trends.
When would be the best time to go?
Email experts recommend sending emails at 4 AM. The global open rate for this time is 22.05%. There is a 32.2% open rate for 4 AM deliveries in the U.S.
What does this mean for sending your morning emails? The answer is no. Schedule your emails for 4 AM if your audience is likely to read them. Unless they are, this “best” send time is far from optimal.
Sending an email to everyone is not a perfect time or day. Each email campaign may have a different optimal day and time (and these may vary further). The following are some examples:
- The industry you work in
- During the holiday season or on a special occasion
- Current events or special events
You should also consider the needs, demographics, and locations of your target audience and buyer personas. Do you know how my readers spend their days? When they wake up, lunch, and go to bed, what do they do? When they are most engaged with content, or what kind of content do they engage with? You should email your subscribers according to their best (or most optimal) time, based on all of these factors.
ESPs with artificial intelligence may predict when your contacts are most likely to engage with your email within a certain timeframe, such as the next 24 hours. Once the best time to email a subscriber has been determined, email sends will be scheduled accordingly.
The ESP may also include a “send throttle” tool that allows you to spread out your email sends. The throttle limit will prevent you from sending more emails than the maximum during the specified period. Your open rates will definitely decrease if subscribers are overwhelmed with emails, since if they are, they will undoubtedly unsubscribe.
7. Preview And Test All Emails Before Final Send; Also Test After Final Send
A/B testing should be done before you send any email campaign to your target audience. By doing this, you’ll be more likely to increase your average open rate and make any changes necessary before finalizing your message.
Multiple elements of your campaign can be A/B tested in most ESPs. The following are among them:
- Subject line
- From name
- Content areas
- CTA text
- Send time
You can run an A/B test successfully by following these tips:
- You should select a sample that is as large as possible
- Make sure both versions have the same sample size
- Don’t wait until the last minute to test
- Each variable should be tested separately. Use multivariate testing when testing multiple variables
- Do not declare a version the “winner” before 24 hours have passed
Check how your email looks on different email clients and devices that your audience is likely to use.
Monitoring the performance of each email after it has been sent is also important. In other words, if two weeks have passed since a campaign launched, and two messages are doing better than the others, analyze these two. How are good email open rates different from other campaigns? Is it imagery? What are the subject lines? Are you copying? Element of interactivity? Your current email content might not be as engaging to one of your audience segments. Understand what your audience really wants from your emails, and use the data to identify disinterested or disengaged segments (or individual subscribers).
Open rate is one of the most important metrics for email marketers. The chances of a subscriber clicking on anything inside an email are low if it doesn’t get opened. Email marketing campaigns can achieve fantastic results if the average open rate is high.
Now is the perfect time to start thinking about email open rates if you haven’t done so before. Keep doing more of what is working for you if it is already working. You can use open rates to re-align your email marketing approach if not, in which case you can use them as a starting point for new strategies. Your audience will be more engaged if you do this.