Many often ask what ‘open rate’ means, and whether the open rate they are getting is any good or not. Here's a brief guide to help you understand what an open actually is, how they are measured and what typical rates are.
What is an open rate?
Open rate is a measure of how many people on an email list open (or view) a particular email campaign. The open rate is normally expressed as a percentage:
How is it measure?
It is important to understand that the open rate is not a 100% accurate measure. Recording an ‘open’ can only happen if the readers email client is capable of displaying html with images, and that option is turned on. So if you are sending text-only emails, there is no way to record open rates. Similarly, people reading your html email without images showing will not be recorded as opens.
Another issue is that your readers may have a preview pane in their email client. That preview pane might be displaying your email automatically (and therefore downloading the images) without the reader ever having to click on it or read it.
What is a typical open rate?
Really, there is no typical open rate. The rate obtained for any list, or group of lists will depend on how it was measured, when it was sent, the size of the list and a zillion other potential variables.
There are certainly some broad trends in open rates.
- As list size goes up, the open rate tends to fall; possibly because smaller companies are more likely to have personal relationships with their list subscribers.
- Companies and organizations that are focusing on enthusiasts and supporters, like churches, sport teams and non profits see higher open rates
- More specific niche topics, like some manufacturing areas also typically have higher open rates than emails on broader topics
So what if you or your clients just have no idea of what is a reasonable open rate? The bottom line is this:
If you are getting an open rate between 20% and 40%, you are probably somewhere around average.
Very few lists of reasonable size are getting much above 50% open rates from normal campaigns. Your list may have some specific factors that give you higher rates; if so, well done. People are too busy, inboxes are too full and the measurements are technically limited.
How can I increase my open rate?
There are a ton of elements you can vary to try to entice more of your subscribers to open up your emails. Here
are just a few things you could try:
- Experiment with your subject lines: Try including details about the content of the email right in the subject line, instead of using your standard subject.
- Send on a different day: Are your subscribers too busy on a Wednesday morning to read your email, leaving it languishing down the inbox? Maybe a Friday afternoon email would be welcomed.
- Get the important content up the top: Remember that many people will see a preview of your email before deciding to open it or ignore it. Make sure your email is recognizable, and that your key points are in the top third.