The Truth About “Good” Open Rates
Comparison is important. It comes up in every facet of our lives, both personal and professional. While we can’t comment on your personal comparisons, let’s talk about comparing email marketing metrics to your peers, competitors, and yourself.
There are many things that make email marketing successful, but one of the most significant metrics is open rates. Before we dive into what is a “good” or “bad” open rate, let’s go back to the basics: an open rate is the proportion of emails that have been opened by your recipients after sending out a campaign. The percentage is calculated by dividing the emails opened by those delivered. For example, if you send 1,000 emails and 200 are opened, you have an open rate of 20%.
So, the higher the percentage, the better the email marketer? Not entirely; it’s important to differentiate between types of emails opened. Transactional emails, such as automated password resets and purchase confirmations, are different than marketing emails, which include newsletters and promotional campaigns. People are typically going to open a transactional email as it confirms something they requested or purchased. While vital to keep an eye on transactional emails, growing your open rate for marketing emails is more important as it is where you have the most impact.
What is considered a “good” open rate for marketing emails? Honestly (and unfortunately) it depends on many factors. Chief among these factors is the size of your contact list, the frequency at which you send emails, and the time and date you send them. An average satisfactory open rate is around 20%, but beware of being too critical depending on the industry in which you work. A recent study among small to medium businesses found that while the average open rate among all industries was between 20-25%, there is quite a range among different trades. For example, internet marketing saw an average open rate of 18.05%, while publishing saw average open rates of 36.59%.
Rather than comparing your open rates with peers who may work in drastically different industries, or even those of your competitors, it’s most essential to understand how your rates compare against your own previous campaigns. Seeing a change in open rates may indicate a weakness or strength, so work to identify what factor could have boosted the disparity by using A/B testing and tinkering with key elements like sender address, subject line, and time/date of sending.
Finally, if you’re not seeing steady growth in open rates, consider doing a clean house on your lists to ensure the contacts you are communicating to have given their express consent to receiving your emails, and then delete unengaged contacts. Aside from helping you maintain sender reputation, the trimmed down list will help you effectively super-serve your most loyal subscribers