Email Open Rates Guide

Everyone wants to know how good their email marketing efforts are. And the lowly email open rate has long served as a traditional barometer of email marketing success.

So two common questions asked are "What's a good open rate?" and "How do I improve my open rate?"

There are no simple answers, especially to the first question. Indeed, a quick browse around the Internet reveals some experts would cheerfully strangle you just for asking it. There are many who see the open rate as a completely irrelevant statistic. (It's not.)

I don't believe anyone has tackled the subject in enough depth to arm the interested reader with all they need to know to properly evaluate and improve their own open rates.

In this guide, you'll learn about definitions, how email open rates are measured, measurement flaws, their usefulness (or not) and how to really answer those two key questions for your own particular situation.

People say to keep content short and sweet on the web. I say long and sweet: if you really want to understand the role open rates can play in improving your email marketing efforts, then stop multi-tasking for a few minutes and read on...

What is the "email open rate"?

When you send an email out to your address list using an email marketing service or software, you'll get a bunch of numbers back telling you what happened to those emails: a metrics report. Here's an example:

Email open rate sample report

You see a column marked "Opens." The number 36.1% is the open rate for that email. It's often expressed as a percentage of the number of emails delivered to recipients.

So in this case, 363 emails were sent out. Three of these emails bounced, which means they didn't get delivered. Of the remainder, 36.1% were "opened": 130 individuals "opened" that email.

Now the problems start. What do we really mean by "opened"? To understand what open rates really tell you, you need to understand how they're measured and calculated.

Next: What do email open rates mean?

1. Email open rates guide
2. What do email open rates mean?
3. How to use email open rates
4. Average email open rates (why yours are different)
5. How to improve email open rates