Email Open Rates: Benchmarks And Tips To Improve

Email marketing is one of the best ways to reach your customers right through their inboxes.

If you are a business owner, you might have pondered over the question, how to know the effectiveness of your marketing campaign?

Sending a perfectly crafted email to your customer as a part of your marketing campaign doesn’t ensure success unless it is opened.

Email open rate is, therefore, an important determining factor in evaluating the success of your marketing campaigns

What is an email open rate?

When an email hits the recipients inbox, it is counted as “open” in two scenarios.

1) The recipient clicks on to a URL given in the email

2) The image in your email loads in the preview pane or in the full view, once it is enabled by the user.

How to calculate an email open rate?

If you are using a reliable email service provider, they will calculate the email open rates of every marketing campaign you undertake.

This can be calculated by taking the number of people who open the email and dividing it by the total number of emails sent that did not bounce or failed to reach the recipient.

For example: If you send 1000 emails and 200 of them bounced, you have 800 emails that are delivered.

Of these 800 emails, let’s suppose 400 are opened.

So, the open rate=400/800 x 100=50

This means that email open rate is 50%

Average email open rate- Benchmarks

The average email open rate is largely dependent on the type of business and niche.

Studies have shown that between the years 2015 to 2019, the average open rate was 29.4%.

However, in 2019, the average email open rate had a steady decline and dropped to 22.1%

Mailchimp has calculated the average email open rate across all industries to be 21.3%. Thus, in short, 21 emails get opened if you manage to send a hundred.

Along with these generalized conclusions, it has also been suggested that the mail opening rate of certain industries is higher when compared to the others.

Say, for example, emails from the government have the highest opening rate of 28.7%.

The food supplement industry has the lowest opening rate of 15.03%.

Reports from Constant Contact suggested that the average rate of opening emails from the marketing industry is 14.56%, while that for the education industry is 25.54%.

For Asian countries, the data is even more interesting.

Another email marketing company GetResponse literally analyzed millions of emails sent by the customers in South Asia.

The company analyzed 430 million emails, and the results were quite interesting.

Among the South Asian countries, Singapore accounts for 25% of the 430 million emails sent.

Email Open Rates


Thus Singapore holds a second position with Vietnam being the first.

When compared with the small population of 6 million, this is quite a huge number.

Research has shown that Malaysia is the only country enjoying significant growth in email open rate. For Malaysia, the rate ranges from 16.52% to 23.38%(2017-2018).

Reasons for having a low open rate

If you are sending emails for quite some time and have not been able to find any improvements in your open rate, it means that something is seriously wrong and needs to be addressed.

Here are some of the top reasons why your email open rates may be lower.

1.Your email is not personalized.

Studies have shown that personalized emails have a 20% more chance of being opened.

Email Open Rates

Source: Statista

Adding the recipient’s name to the email gives a personal touch.

2. Subject Lines are not Effective.

A brilliant subject line can significantly improve the email open rate. This is the first thing a user finds in the inbox.

A good subject line tells the user:

  • What the contents of the email are, and
  • Is it worth opening?

On the other hand, research has shown that a boring subject line could dramatically reduce your email open rates.

Email Open Rates

Source: Statista

Various statistics have indicated that 33% of mail recipients open the email solely based on the subject line.

3. You have not segmented your list.

If you are sending the same type of email to all the members on your list, you might not be getting a positive response to your marketing campaign.

Studies have shown that customer segmentation campaigns perform 14.4% better in terms of email open rates.

Email Open Rates

Source: Databox

4. Inactive subscribers

If your mailing list has a lot of people who haven’t engaged with your emails for a long time, this is going to seriously affect your open rate and deliverability.

5. You send emails too frequently

This is another important reason why your email is getting a low open rate. The greater the number of emails sent to a recipient, the lesser will be the number of times they will open the email.

Asking your subscribers on how frequently they like to hear from you will be a great thing to do. You should provide a preference page to your subscribers in which they can update their interests as well as let you know how often they wish to hear from you.

Strategies to improve email open rates

1. Make sure to keep an updated list.

The first and foremost step to improve the open rate is to have an updated list of emails.

At times, the subscribers tend to lose interest in your service, or any of them might have changed their email address.

Thus it is a good idea to remove inactive subscribers from your active list.

From a marketing point of view, an inactive subscriber is a person who hasn’t opened the mail for the last six months.

As a last attempt to re engage them, you could send a final email and wait for the response.

Here is a very good example from Hubspot.

Email Open Rates

2. Create a segmented list

We all know that when you receive an email, the first thing that comes to your mind is whether it is relevant to you or not.

Studies have shown that the best way of creating a segmented list is to improve the relevancy of your email.

Email Open Rates


In a study, it was found that 39% of the marketers who segmented their email lists experienced higher open rates, 24% experienced better deliverability and 28% experienced lower unsubscribe rates.

You could segment your list based on:

  • Purchase history
  • Site activity
  • Specific products purchased
  • Demographics etc.

3. Make sure to avoid spam filters.

Many email service providers have inbuilt spam filters which are smart enough to filter even the best crafted marketing emails.

Here are some of the tips to avoid your mails from getting into spam filters:

  • Send your mails from a good IP address
  • Make sure to include your location
  • Avoid unnecessary images
  • Send through verified and genuine domains
  • Use merge tags in order to personalize
  • Provide your subscribers with an option to unsubscribe.

4. Select the right timing for sending

Studies have shown that the time at which the subscribers receive the mail has a considerable impact on whether your email will be opened or not.

Email Open Rates


Various studies suggest that weekdays are better to send marketing emails than weekends.

The timing for sending emails is totally dependent on your business. Try to experiment by sending emails in two or three different time slots to see which time slot has the maximum opening rates.

Some key points to note:

  • The majority(47%) of the emails are opened outside the regular working hours.
  • Peak open times are just before and after lunch
  • Over half of the emails are opened between 9 AM TO 5 PM (local time zone)

5. Create an engaging subject line

When it comes to creating a subject line to engage your audience, make sure to keep it simple and engaging.

Make sure that the title is fun filled and attractive to gain user attention.

6. Write to one person.

If an email is sent directly to the recipient, it has a higher chance of getting opened.

  • Use the recipient's first name in the opening line.
  • The body of the email should be written in such a way that it is being written to only one person.
  • The language should be crafted to gain a personal touch with the recipient.

7. Write amazing content

When it comes to email marketing, content is really the king.

With high-quality content, it is possible to engage your customers, and this is one of the best ways to make sure that your emails will be read and won’t end up in the bin.

Make sure to fill your email with compelling, high quality and informative content which is not available elsewhere.

8. Optimize for mobile devices

Studies have shown that about 43% of emails are opened on mobile devices. If your messages don’t read well on mobile devices, chances are high that you might end up losing potential customers.

If the mail displays well on mobile, you will enjoy a higher engagement rate and a better open rate.

Bottom Line

Email marketing still continues to be the best-sought method to market your brand.

Some of the key points to keep in mind are :

  • Optimize your emails to fit for mobile devices
  • Send your emails during the weekdays rather than in weekends
  • Use a credible service provider for sending emails
  • Personalize wherever it is possible
  • Use an attention-grabbing subject line
  • Segment your emails to fit different audiences

Make sure you partner with a reliable email marketing platform to track your delivery and open rates effectively.