Email Open Rates – What Are They and What Do They Mean?

There is a chunk of ways by which you can measure your success in internet marketing. Obviously, the best measure is to look at how much money you’re making! But before that, a good place to start is with your email open rate statistics. Your email open rate is just what it sounds like – the percentage of people who have opened the email you’ve sent them. It is a measurable statistic that you can track through your autoresponder. When your email is sent out, it is embedded with a tag. When someone opens the email in their browser, it’s recorded as an “open”.

Your email open rate is figured by dividing the total emails opened by the number of emails sent minus the bounces. For example, if 100 emails were sent and 30 were opened, your open rate would be 30%.

It goes without saying that your emails need to be opened before you can get people to act on the information in your email. You may want them to buy, read your newsletter, take a survey, or some other action. The more emails opened, the better chance of getting the outcome you desire.

Email open rate statistics are important but are not totally reliable. Some email services have a “preview pane” and the email can be read without clicking on it. This would not register as an open. Also, your email recipient needs to be able to view HTML with images for the email to be considered an open. If you send text-only emails or if the recipient has images turned off, it wouldn’t register as a viewed or opened the email. Still, you can look at your open rates as a general guide, and use the percentages to watch your overall trends.

What open percentage rate is considered average? There are a lot of different opinions out there, but I’ve seen more and more comments lately that 20-30% is a typical average.

Open rates can be influenced by many factors:

  • If you’re sending information to a specific niche that requested that information.
  • If the information is time-sensitive.
  • If the reader anticipates your emails.
  • If you have a good subject line.
  • If you send emails too frequently.
  • And much more…

Generally, a newsletter that the reader has subscribed to will get opened more often than a general email about, say… insurance.

It’s interesting to note that AWeber autoresponder did a survey of their clients’ open rates and determined there was a difference based on the size of the client’s list. Lists of 5000+ subscribers had open rates ranging from 19-40%, while lists with 1000 or fewer had open rates of 60-95%. This could be because smaller lists tend to be newer and more personal, plus they may have a narrower niche focus.

It’s not very encouraging to find that your open rate is a low 10%, after all the work you put into your email, but remember that your open rate is something that can be tested and improved upon. It’s not a stagnant thing – it grows when you do something right. A good piece of advice is to test, test, test different variables of your email with split-testing. Always change just one thing at a time, look at your results, and then change another thing. Taking time to do this could really cause your open rate to go up.


One thought on “Email Open Rates – What Are They and What Do They Mean?

  1. Sanford Feichtner

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