The Truth About Open Rates; Your Email Won’t Self-Destruct In 24 Hours

Everyone always says “if your email doesn’t get opened in the first 24 hours of sending – forget about it!” and after reading Dave Chaffey’s recent blog ‘Did you know how scary the Half-life of your online comms is?‘ we were keen to put some science behind common held opinions and investigate this further. And our research, looking at dotdigital’s own monthly newsletter (sign up here) shows otherwise.

While it goes without saying the majority of email opens will happen in the first 24 hours, we were keen to find out what happens after that; do opens and click-throughs suddenly just self-destruct? You might be surprised to know we found it can take up to two weeks for the real traffic from our email newsletter to drop off.

30% of opens happen after 24 hours

Looking at results from the past six months I found that while 70% of opens happened in the first day, an additional 30% happened after this time. That’s a relatively large proportion, especially if you’re sending to large numbers of recipients or if you are sending a highly targeted campaign that has high conversion rates.

We found that if recipients hadn’t clicked in the first 24 hours then the majority would click within the following week. This period (2-6 days after) accounts for 80% of those not clicking on the first day, week two (7-14 days) brings an additional 12%. The really interesting point here is that the remaining 8% click through any time from 14 days to a whopping 148 days after! That’s five whole months after sending, would you Adam & Eve it! (see the graph below).

Don’t panic! You have plenty of time

The point here is if you’ve not quite got the response rate you wanted on the first day, don’t worry, it’s not to say your campaign won’t get results in time. People are busy and it’s easy for your email to slip down the list, but this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s lost forever and more often than not if it looks of interest they will go back to it, even if it is 5 months later.

It’s also good to remember that sending out a follow up campaign to non-openers (which is super easy in dotdigital) can vastly improve your response rate. Simply go into the reporting page of your campaign, click on more reports, select ‘Non openers’ and export to a new address book. Then copy your campaign, compose a new subject line and you’re away!