Improve email open rate

How to improve your email open rate

How to improve your email open rate

Is your email open rate letting you down? Regardless of whether you send 1 or 20 emails a month, if your recipients aren't opening your campaigns, then you're missing out. Email marketing gives marketers & business owners a number of opportunities to engage their audience, build trust, strengthen relationships & generate conversions. However, without a decent number of opens or click throughs, the end goal - driving sales or quality leads - can start to feel like an impossible task. After you've started building your email list & sending campaigns, the next thing you need to optimise is open rate. If you're ready to improve your email open rate, keep reading...


Email open rate
Most email service providers (ESPs) will have a section called 'reports' or 'performance dashboard'. After you've started sending emails to your subscribers, you'll be able to visit this section & see performance results for each campaign that you've sent. It's in here that you'll find details about the number of email opens & your open rate.

Number of opens simply tells you how many times your email has been opened overall. You'll also see 'unique opens' or 'number of subscribers who've opened' - this may be different from number of opens as some people may view your campaign more than once. For example, if your latest campaign has 4 opens, but the number of subscribers who have opened is 3, 1 recipient has opened your email twice. Your open rate is usually displayed somewhere alongside or beneath number of opens. It's always shown as a percentage & it's worked out by dividing the number of opens by the number of emails sent.


Why open rate is so important

Your recipients' inboxes are overflowing with emails. In fact, they probably receive so many each day, that there's no way that they can possibly open - & pay attention - to all of them. As a business, you're competing with work-related messages, emails from loved ones & tempting offers from competitors. Let's not forget the other brands who are also trying to secure your subscribers' time or money (or both). Consistently standing out for the right reasons & securing opens is key to your email marketing success.

You see, if no one opens your email, no one sees your content or clicks on your links. As a direct result, no one converts. Your open rate is so important because the more opens each campaign receives, the more opportunities you have to engage with & convert your subscribers.

Before you create or send a campaign, it's always a good idea to have a major goal in mind - an action that you want recipients to take. It should be designed to help you achieve the goals in your marketing plan by pushing your subscribers further down your sales funnel. This might include anything from buying something or filling in an enquiry form, to signing up for an event or downloading your latest report.


If you're eager to improve your email open rate, it's a good idea to see how you compare to others within your industry. A number of email service providers (ESPs) release annual benchmark reports based on the performance metrics of their users, displayed by industry. As the majority of businesses & marketers that I work with use MailChimp, I'll refer to the 2018 MailChimp benchmark report in this post. According to this report, the average open rate across all industries is 20.81%. However, across industries, the lowest average open rate is 14.92% for daily deals / e-coupon businesses. The highest is 27.35% for hobbies brands.

If you start looking at other ESP's benchmark studies, you'll notice that their performance benchmarks are slightly different. For example, Hubspot's average open rate is much higher than Mailchimp's - by almost 12%. This could reflect the fact that a larger number of Hubspot users adopt & implement more complex email marketing strategies with a strong focus on personalisation. So, how do you know which benchmarks to compare your email performance to? It's probably best to find benchmarks that have been released by the ESP that you use, but if you'd prefer to compare yourself to others, that's 100% up to you.


Wondering how to improve your open rate? I've shared 5 tips in our latest marketing guide, 5 email marketing tips to help you boost your open rate. It covers everything from optimising preview text to cleansing your subscriber lists & each tip features an additional 3 - 5 points to help you better understand & start implementing changes right away. The best news? The guide is now available for free when you subscribe to the Words on Marketing newsletter. Get your free marketing guide now!

Author Amanda Beylkin

Amanda Beylkin is the founder of Words on Marketing. She began her marketing career in Australia in 2005, working for an early stage startup. Since this time, she's worked with brands big & small, from Microsoft & Montcalm Luxury Hotels to Quiz Clothing & cranberry panda. Now based in London, she spends her days helping individuals & brands achieve more with marketing.

Comments 1

  1. Hello! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this page to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!

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