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What is a Good Email Open Rate?

Posted By Administration, Thursday, April 25, 2013
Updated: Friday, August 30, 2013
I send out a monthly newsletter to clients and prospects. I notice my email software gives me open rates. How are these calculated and how do I determine if my numbers are good or bad. What should I be aiming for?

Several things contribute to knowing "what is a good open rate". According to email metrics Marketing Report by MailerMailer:
  • Open rates vary by industry. While some sources suggest 20-35% is about normal, MailerMailer reports the consulting industry open rate was 15.9%.
  • In general, smaller lists continue to perform better than larger lists. The average open rate for 25-499 members was 28%, for 500-999 members was 22.3%, and for 1000+ members was 12.2%.
  • Expect open rates to peak the first hour after delivery. There will then be a decline over the next 47 hours, until open rates essentially drop to zero.
  • 50% of your opens occur within the first 6 hours and 77% within the first 24 hours.

Eric Shanfelt's suggestion in his article, The Truth Behind Email Marketing Metrics, is to take email open rates with a grain of salt. Open rates are typically measured by an embedded invisible graphic in the email message. Email readers are not loading images by default so the tracking image is also not being loaded. Even though people may be reading your email, it might not be counted as an open. This includes people who use Gmail, Outlook (which turns off images by default), and the significantly increasing number of people who read email on handheld devices.

TIP:Bottom line? Actual opens may be more than are being recorded through email delivery systems. If you are seeing declining open rates, before you panic and change a lot of things, it may be due to some email readers that no longer load images and thus do not register as opens.

NOTE:Thanks to those eagle eye readers who pointed out my last idea about partnering with a complementary (mutually making up what is lacking) business. I misspelled it using complimentary (expressing courtesy, respect, admiration or praise). In actuality, while the first word is the correct spelling (and I'm usually good at that - this one got past me), partnering with someone where there's mutual respect is a good idea too. Well, at least I know someone's reading these - THANKS!

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