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

Source:Silvermouse

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).

What is a good email open rate?

Knowing industry standards for email open rates will help you to set realistic goals. Since industries differ in their open rate and click through rate, it’s best to consider specific industry averages rather than overall average rates.

According to Mailchimp, industries such as arts and artists, creative services, education and training, and nonprofits have email open rates that are higher than the average 21.8%.

Government emails have the highest open and click-through rates.

In contrast, industries dealing in vitamin supplements, beauty and personal care, daily deals, and e-commerce have lower than average email open rates.

Email open rates also vary between B2B and B2C emails.

According to a benchmark report by the Data & Marketing Association, B2B email open rates average at 15.1% while the B2C average is a little higher at 19.7%.

However, B2B emails have a click through rate at 3.2% as compared to 2.1% for B2C emails.

To gauge how well your email campaigns are working, benchmark it according to the industry you are in. You may find that your low email open rate is actually good when compared against the average percentage.

What is a click through rate (CTR)?

Click-through rates (CTR) refers to an email marketing metric that allows you to easily calculate the performance of every email that you send. You can use it to track how your CTR changes over time and optimise your email marketing campaigns accordingly.

CTR average across industries is 7.8%, which means 78 emails for every 1000 emails that are sent out. Highest CTR are found in the manufacturing and health industries.

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.

6. Content is not relevant

One of the factors that contribute to overall engagement is the actual content in the email. While this may seem obvious, relevant content is sometimes overlooked.

For example, if you are in the hotel business, promoting a discount will most likely attract more readers, as compared to promoting the gymnasium in the hotel. Some thought into what will resonate with your readers will go a long way.

Test your content from time to time to understand what engages each segment of your list.

7. Emails not timed properly

When do you send out your email campaigns? Delivery time can significantly impact email open rates significantly.

The best time to send emails is after 12pm on a Tuesday. Emails sent on weekends and after working hours are less likely to be opened. Emails sent on Monday may not be given attention because people at work need Mondays to catch up on the regular work emails received on the weekends.

Also, consider that 23% of emails are opened within the first hour of delivery. This percentage drops to 1% after 24 hours of delivery. It’s best to avoid Mondays, and weekends when sending emails.

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

Source:lyfemarketing

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

Source:eMarketer

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.

Here’s what you can do to make your emails mobile friendly:

  • Keep in mind that mobile screens are smaller.
  • Use shorter subject lines as long ones can’t be viewed properly on a mobile device.
  • Utilise simple, single-column formatting.
  • Utilise larger fonts to increase readability.
  • Reduce load time by using smaller images.
  • Have call-to-action buttons that are easy for users to tap with a thumb. Tiny buttons are hard to tap.
  • Space your links to make sure that the reader doesn’t tap the wrong link accidentally.

9. Make sure that your emails are actually delivered

Ensuring that your emails are delivered can make a huge difference to your email open rates. After all, an email can’t be opened if it doesn’t reach the reader’s inbox!

Here are a few things you can do to increase delivery rates.

  • Double opt-in - Use double opt-in so that your emails are sent to people who are actually interested in your emails. With double opt-ins, the subscribers verify that they want to receive emails from you.
  • Get added to your reader’s address book - Simply ask your readers to add the ‘from’ email address to their contact list. Doing so will increase the delivery rate of the emails that you send out.
  • Clear your email list - Consider cleansing your list when a subscriber is not opening an email from you. Chances are, your reader is no longer interested if she doesn’t open the emails that you are sending. Additionally, Gmail and Yahoo Mail will direct your email to the spam folder if subscribers are not opening them.

10. Re-send your emails

Sometimes, the reason that a subscriber does not open an email is because they just haven’t gotten it yet.

Re-sending your emails might seem intrusive, but think about it. Those who missed it because they were busy or because their inbox was full will be thankful that you sent it again.

Those who didn’t open it the first time because they were just not interested will likely unsubscribe. While this may seem counterproductive, it’s actually a great way to remove people who shouldn’t be on your mailing list anyway.

11. Email list scrubbing

It’s important to keep your email list fresh. Over time, people change email addresses or perhaps they are not interested in your content or what you are offering anymore.

It’s good to remove inactive subscribers every few months so that your list is filled with those who are engaged. However, before removing inactive subscribers, you can try to re-engage your inactive subscribers through “win back email campaigns”.

Ask your inactive subscribers if they still want to stay subscribed, before removing them. Alternatively, you can also check with subscribers once in a while to ask them to update their information.

12. Optimise your preview text

The preview text is the snippet of text that gives your reader a preview of the email when they are looking at their inbox.

Give your preview text some thought and craft it deliberately as subscribers will likely use it to decide if the content is relevant. As there’s only a small space for this, try not to go over 40 characters

Consider testing the following when creating your preview text to see what resonates best with your readers.

  • Personalisation
  • Discounts, coupon codes and offers.
  • Use it as a continuation of the subject line.
  • Use it as a succinct summary of the email content.

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.