What Exactly Is A Good Open Rate?

We get asked a lot of questions about email marketing and, while we always try and give clear answers, sometimes the only true response is “it depends”.

One of the questions that certainly falls into this category is: what is a good open rate? For example, when it comes to open rates, these are all determining factors:

  • What type of campaign was it?
  • Who were you emailing?
  • How is the design put together?
  • What is the objective?
  • How old was the data
  • Was this an aquistion or retention campaign?

When you think about open rates in these terms, it makes industry averages something of an irrelevance.

To be honest, the best benchmark is to look at the last campaign you sent. Any improvement should immediately show you’re going in the right direction.

But even then, it’s not always that simple…

Do open rates actually have any real bearing on the real success of your campaign?

Open rates are calculated by counting the number of recipients that download images (and in the case of dotMailer, those who clicked on links even with images still disabled) for your campaign and/or that interacted with it in some way.

What this doesn’t tell you is anything about the result or action they took. Opening an email is all very well, but if their action is simply to then ‘delete’, the ‘open’ is useless.

So which metrics might provide a more accurate option?

Enter the humble ‘link click’! Not only does this confirm that the user has engaged with the email, they’ve also clearly found it relevant and interesting enough to investigate further.

Most clicks are direct calls to action; whether to enquire further about products or services, to contact your organisation directly or simply out of pure curiosity – all of these actions indicate a degree of conversion.

Not only this, but every time a recipient clicks on a link in your email, you learn something about what they are interested in. This is where it gets clever. If someone clicked on a certain product in your email, then maybe you could consider sending a future email related to it?

Take it a step further

Ultimately, any email marketer should be aiming to track user activity when they’ve actually clicked through to the website and then use this to determine an ROI. For example, which of your customers purchased after they clicked through or which downloaded a whitepaper?

What could be better than using a metric which lets you continue to track your recipients all the way through to the ultimate conversion? This will really tell you whether your emails are doing the business!

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