If you have an email marketing campaign or send out the occasional email blast to your customers then you have likely asked yourself:

  • What’s my email open rate?
  • What’s a good email open rate?
  • What’s the email open rate average?
  • What does the email open rate mean?

In today’s article we’ll discuss how to define, calculate, track and improve your email open rate plus share recent study results for the average open rates from over 2,700 brands in over 40 countries.

Even though we do not offer Email Marketing as a core service we recognize it’s interaction with Search Engine Optimization.

For example often our clients set up a goal of driving traffic to their website in order to get new signups for their monthly email newsletter which then converts to new customers. But these sign ups have little value if the newsletter campaign does not encourage sales, customer loyalty, referrals or some other revenue driving outcome.

Because of this connection between SEO and Email Marketing we feel it is important to discuss the most commonly asked questions about email open rate statistics and metrics in more detail.

So let’s dive into a better understanding of email open rates and how we can improve our open rates to better motivate our customers.

Email Open Rate Definition

The most common way to define email open rate is how many people view your email. Define your email open rate as the number of measured opened messages divided the number of delivered messages.

Email Open Rate Calculation:

Opened Emails  /  Delivered Emails

Average Email Open Rate for Newsletters

Silverpop recently published a study for Email Open Rates for 2012 for messages sent by over 2,700 brands in over 40 countries. The PDF shows great detail of open rates by country and for specific industries including non-profits, travel, consumer services, corporate services and more.

While the unique and gross open rates are useful to compare your email marketing metrics to the most interesting part to note is how much greater of an open rate the top quartile of US brands enjoy. Their unique open rate is over double the median rate and their gross open rate (total opens) is nearly three times as high!

This shows that we shouldn’t limit ourselves by striving for the average when we know that if we can become among the best email marketers we can obtain awesome open rates. When you are trusted, send interesting messages and engage your email recipients you put yourself far above your competition.

UPDATE: Here are some updates for email open rates in 2015!

How to Track Your Email Open Rate

Most email marketing programs like Constant Contact and MailChimp come with automatic open rate calculators that make it easy to measure your average email open rate for newsletters across time.

You can also track email open rate in Google Analytics to get greater insights including how much time email visitors spend on your site, how many pages email visitors spend and if those email visitors contribute to sale or quote request on your website.

By tracking your own email open rate trends you can monitor whether what you are doing works well. A few items to look at to get you started include:

  • What newsletter topics get the highest open rates?
  • What type of email newsletter subject lines get the highest open rates?
  • What day of the week gets the highest open rate?
  • What time of the day gets the highest open rate?

Rather than going on other industry open rate metrics you can use your own “best” rates to decide how to outperform yourself.

Increase Your Email Open Rate

All email marketers search for ways to work on improving email open rates. Turning a low email open rate to the industry average email open rate and then above average will give you more motivation, purpose and fulfillment in your email newsletter campaigns.

Here are five simple things you can do to get a good open rate on your email marketing campaign:

1. Clean Newsletter Address Book

There may not be anything wrong with the content, subject line or when you send an email. It could simply be that your address book is filled with email addresses of people who are no longer interested in your services, low quality email leads and even worse, purchased email lists! We know that unsolicited email open rates can hurt your marketing campaign. Make sure your email list is cleaned regularly and contains high quality “leads”.

2. Make a Good First Impression with a Catchy Subject Line

The subject line is such an important first impression you have to make. If it is boring or repetitive you risk the chance of being ignored, deleted or marked as junk. Try focusing the subject line on some sort of benefit to the recipient that will compel them to find out more by opening the email. By creating urgency and “FOMO” (fear of missing out) recipients are more likely to open the email right away.

3. Look at Email Newsletters in Your Inbox

You’re a consumer yourself and you likely get several email newsletters each week to your own inbox at home. Spend some time looking through these and make lists of the “good” and the “bad” practices you see. What makes you want to open? What type of information do you find important? You can even ask a few coworkers, family members and friends to do the same. Now combine all of the good attributes and beef up your own email campaign.

4. Brand Your From Line and Become a Trusted Sender

Constant Contact surveys show that nearly 65% of people cite the “From” line as the most important factor for opening an email. By placing your brand, product or service in the from line will assure your recipients the email can be trusted. It also builds familiarity and credibility over time.

5. Question if You Send Too Often or Not Enough

If you send an email every day you risk wearing out your recipients. If you send an email once a year you risk recipients forgetting about you. Find the right balance between too often and too sparingly for your email list. Consider the purpose of your messages and don’t be afraid to ask recipients how often they want to receive messages.

Now that you understand Open Rates for your Email Campaigns, why not learn about Click Through Rates for your website in SERP results?