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“What’s a good Open Rate?”

That’s a question we get a lot.¬†You’ve sent out your campaign, check the report, see your open rate, and start wondering if you should be happy or upset.

The open rate is a measurement of how many people have viewed your campaign. We calculate it, as a percentage, using a simple formula:

Open Rate = Emails Opened / (Emails sent – bounces)

So, if you see an open rate of 20%, that means that a campaign sent to 10 people would have 2 opened.

We’re able to tell if someone opened a campaign by inserting a tiny, invisible tracking image in your campaign. That image is unique to each recipient. If we detect the image was viewed or downloaded, we can naturally deduct that the recipient has seen the campaign.

It’s not 100% accurate (someone might have extremely strict and uncommon security settings), but it’s pretty darn close to perfect. Just in case such a scenario exists, we also track clicks as opens (as if someone clicked a link, they’ve opened the campaign).


So, back to the question of “What’s a good Open Rate?”, the answer is pretty simple:

There is none. At least, not a typical open rate. The number has so many factors associated with it (like size of list, time the campaign was sent, content of the campaign, how enticing your subject line was, and a zillion other things) that it’s hard to place a solid number on it.

Luckily, we can work on averages (from our customers mailings) based on the type of industry they work in. This will show you what an average open rate looks like, depending on the market:

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We also picked up some trends, not shown above. They are:

  • The bigger your list gets, the lower the open rate. We suspect this is because smaller companies have a personal relationship with their readers, whereas larger ones may not.
  • Anything “fun” has a far higher open rate. Things like sports clubs, hobby circles, community driven organisations like Churches or Neighbourhood Watch often see a higher open rate.
  • Very specific industries have high open rates. For example, if you manufacture a specific type of light bulb no one else does, and everyone you mail is a buyer of the product, you’re definitely going to have a much higher open rate than if you’re one of thousands that provide that service.

If you’re reading this article because you’re curious as to what a good rate is, or Management has said they “need one by 4pm”, the short answer is “anything between 20% and 40% is average. Above 50% isn’t common, and 80% or more would be astounding and nearly impossible.”


Want to increase your open rate?

Here are some solid tips:

  • Play around with your subject line. It’s the first thing people see, ensure it’s not going to be skimmed. Use our A/B split testing feature if you want us to automatically calculate the best one for you.
  • Change your pattern. Send on a different day, or time. Maybe you’ve chosen a fixed time that conincidently has people in their weekly meetings. Try the afternoon if you normally send in the mornings.
  • Ensure your first 10% of the campaign is amazing. It’s the first part of the mailer people will see, and if it’s already boring, there’s no incentive to keep reading. How many times have people read “Dear Valued Client” – boring! Make it fun, or personal (using our Custom Fields feature).

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