What is a Good Open Rate for Email? Our 2024 Open Rate Guide Has All the Information You Need

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Open rates in email marketing refer to the percentage of recipients who open a particular email campaign. It is a key metric used to measure the success and engagement of an email marketing strategy.

For email marketers, it’s critical to have a point of reference to know if their email campaigns are on track to success. This is where industry metrics for open rates come in handy. But things are a bit more complicated than that — tracking open rates may not be good enough to accurately ascertain the quality of your email campaigns. 

We explore how open rates are evolving, which metrics email marketers should focus on moving forward, and what the most critical aspect of email marketing is.

What is the Open Rate?

In email marketing, the open rate refers to the percentage of recipients who open or view an email campaign that was sent to them. It is calculated by dividing the number of unique opens or views by the number of emails successfully delivered (not bounced emails).

The open rate helps measure the effectiveness of an email marketing campaign. A higher open rate generally indicates the subject line and sender name were compelling enough to get recipients to open the email.

However, it’s important to note the open rate doesn’t necessarily reflect how many people actually read the email content or took the desired action. It simply measures how many people opened or viewed the email.

Open rates can vary significantly depending on factors such as: 

It is also common for email sequences to have their highest open and click rates at the start and fade as the sequence continues. People have fleeting focus and interest, especially if you solve their pain points early on. A good way to combat this would be the use of email gamification, which can entice readers to engage with all the emails in your campaign.

While important, open rates shouldn’t be the sole indicator of success. They can vary due to loading issues with the tracking pixel or because email clients block the tracking of opens. It’s best to consider open rates alongside other metrics like click-through rates (CTR) or conversion rates to get a more holistic view of your campaign’s performance.

Before we discuss these topics, let’s first address the burning question you’ve been waiting to see answered.

What is a Good Open Rate for Email Marketing?

There is no single “good” open rate that applies across all email marketing campaigns and industries, as open rates can vary considerably. However, some benchmarks and guidelines can help determine if an open rate is considered good or not.

Different industries tend to have different average open rates. According to data from sources like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, and HubSpot, the average open rate across all industries ranges between 33% to 39%.

But there’s more to measuring email performance than just open rates. Various factors can skew these stats; open rates vary wildly depending on which field you’re in. 

So, let’s look at industry-specific open rates to get a better idea of the numbers you should aim for.

Email Open Rate by Industry: Statistics

Depending on your field, your customers and leads will respond differently to your marketing efforts. Studying email marketing statistics for your industry is necessary as benchmarks are different for different industries. 

As the table below demonstrates, customers in different fields feel differently about opening marketing emails.

This data on open rates for multiple industries is compiled from four different surveys:

IndustryMailchimpConstant ContactHubSpotGetResponse
Real estate35.38%36.00%41.6%37.23%
Health care34.64%41.20%41.2%30.85%
Financial services31.34%26.46%41.4%26.5%
Legal services31.40%36.96%39.3%32.42%
Beauty and personal care31.89%39.49%39.9%27.73%
Arts and artists42.16%42.63%37.41%
Public relations33.69%
Food and dining40.03%35.05%35.34%
Social networks37.14%39.8%
Avg across all industries34.20%37.72%38.49%33.1%
Open rates across different industries

Types of Emails and Their Open Rates

Clearly, the industry you’re in affects the average open rates for email marketing. But that’s not the only factor — different types of emails can also change the results you’re seeing. 

Open rates for triggered emails, autoresponders, email newsletters, and RSS emails are all different, according to a GetResponse study. 

This table explains different email types and the open rates they’re able to achieve:

Email typeDefinitionOpen rates
Triggered emailsEmails that are automatically sent based on specific user actions or behaviors.35.33%
AutorespondersA series of pre-written emails that are automatically sent to subscribers or customers at predetermined intervals.35.91%
NewslettersPeriodic emails (weekly, monthly, or quarterly) that provide updates, news, articles, or other content to subscribers.26.7%
RSS emailsEmails that are automatically generated and sent whenever new content is published in an RSS feed.44.54%
Different types of emails and their open rates

As the table indicates, RSS emails completely wipe out the competition. This is because RSS emails are highly customizable and therefore, more appealing to recipients. Users subscribe to have new content from their favorite websites or blogs delivered directly to their email inboxes.

So, what’s a good place to start fixing your open rates? The next section gives you actionable steps.

Factors That Affect Open Rates

Been struggling with open rates? 

You might be repeating one or more of the common mistakes listed here:

  1. Subject line: A poor subject line can negatively affect open rates as your readers won’t be interested enough to click on your email.
  2. Sender name: The sender’s name or email address can impact whether a recipient decides to open an email. 
  3. Relevant content: Only content that provides value, solves a problem, or meets the recipient’s needs is likely to be opened.
  4. Sending time: Sending emails at off-hours when the recipient is asleep or busy at work can lead to lower email opens. Certain days of the week may also yield higher open rates based on recipients’ email habits and schedules.
  5. Email list hygiene: If your email list does not consist of engaged subscribers and contains outdated or purchased contacts instead, your email open rates are bound to suffer.
  6. Segmentation: Sending an email blast to your whole list instead of carefully created segments will bring you poor open results.
  7. Mobile formatting: Emails that don’t display correctly on smartphones are likely to see a flurry of unsubscribes and spam complaints, pulling down your open stats.
  8. Sender reputation: If your sender reputation isn’t great, your emails won’t even make it to the inbox — ultimately affecting open rates.

The introduction of Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection has had the most impact on open rates in recent times. But what is it?

The Effect of Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection on Email Marketing

A recent phenomenon in email marketing is artificially inflated open statistics — a result of Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection (MPP). The goal of MPP is to protect the privacy of their email users.

This new feature, introduced in 2021, has strongly influenced the tracking of email open rates. A part of Apple’s native Mail app on iOS 15 and macOS Monterey (and later), MPP offers users enhanced privacy. It does this by preventing email senders from using tracking pixels to collect information about when and how users open their emails.

Let’s discuss how Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection has affected the way we historically tracked email open rates.

It Prevents Pixel Loading

Tracking pixels are tiny, invisible images embedded in emails that allow senders to track when an email is opened and gather information about the recipient’s device, location, and engagement behavior. One of the key aspects of Mail Privacy Protection is that it prevents tracking pixels from loading automatically when an email is opened in the Mail app. 

With MPP enabled, these pixels are loaded regardless of whether the recipient opens the email, making it impossible for senders to accurately track open rates solely based on pixel tracking.

The Masking of IP Addresses

Mail Privacy Protection also masks the user’s IP address, making it more difficult for email senders to track the recipient’s location and device information accurately. This further limits the effectiveness of traditional email tracking methods that rely on IP address data.

Blurring of Engagement Signals

This is the biggest impact of MPP. In addition to blocking tracking pixels, Mail Privacy Protection generates false “open” signals by pre-fetching content from email servers, even if the user hasn’t actually opened the email. 

This deliberate concealment of engagement signals makes it challenging for email marketers to accurately measure open rates and user behavior.

As a result, email marketers may note significant volatility in reported open rates for emails sent to Apple Mail users. This affects the accuracy of email campaign analytics and makes it more challenging to assess the effectiveness of email marketing efforts. This is particularly true for organizations that traditionally relied on open rates as a key performance indicator.

Shift Towards Other Metrics

With the limitations imposed by Mail Privacy Protection, email marketers may need to rely on alternative metrics and indicators of engagement to measure the success of their email campaigns. 

Including metrics such as click-through rates, conversion rates, and overall campaign performance may become more valuable in assessing the effectiveness of your email marketing ops.

Should You Abandon Tracking Open Rates?

The biggest impact of MPP and similar services is the accuracy of “when” someone opens versus “if” an email is opened at all. When local clients cache your email to obscure real user behavior, it effectively invalidates send time optimization. 

It can also break other features such as popular countdown timers that require time-accurate open data to generate an accurate timed experience.

That said, at Campaign Refinery, we like to emphasize that we still consider open rates extremely useful. Open metrics are a rock-solid way to compare previous or future sends to get an idea of trendlines. 

For example, even with MPP, if an email goes to spam, it will not register the robot opens. So, non-opens are even more of a red flag than they were before MPP and similar solutions.

In short, you should definitely continue tracking email opens. However, there are additional metrics that offer excellent value and insight — read on to learn all about them. 

Two Major Email Campaign Metrics: CTR and CTOR

Tracking open rates has been a traditional metric in email marketing for measuring campaign performance, but factors like MPP and email client behavior (like image blocking) have changed the landscape (slightly). 

This is where focusing on metrics such as click-through rate (CTR), click-to-open rate (CTOR), spam complaints, and unsubscribe rates provides a more comprehensive understanding of campaign effectiveness.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

When you divide the number of unique clicks by the total emails sent, you get the click-through rate or CTR. It indicates how engaging and compelling your email content and calls-to-action (CTAs) are. 

A higher CTR suggests your email resonates well with your audience and encourages them to take the desired action, whether it’s visiting your website, making a purchase, or downloading content.

Click-To-Open Rate (CTOR)

You get your click-to-open rate (CTOR) by dividing the number of unique clicks by the number of unique opens. 

It measures the effectiveness of your email content in driving engagement among those who actually opened your email. CTOR provides insights into the relevance and quality of your email content to the audience who opened it, offering a more nuanced view of engagement compared to CTR alone.

Note that CTOR is also affected by MPP. Since MPP causes an inflation boost of roughly 10-15% to reported open rates, it would be expected that CTOR would fall by a similar 10-15% compared to the pre-MPP benchmark. More opens, but the same effectiveness of emails would result in a lower reported CTOR.

Why Think Beyond Open Rates?

With the rise of privacy measures, tracking open rates has become less reliable. Open rates may be underreported or inaccurately represented, making it challenging to measure actual engagement.

This is where metrics like CTR and CTOR provide more actionable insights into subscriber behavior. They indicate not only who opened your email but also who took the next step by clicking on your links, providing a clearer picture of engagement and interest.

By focusing on these metrics, the quality of interactions becomes a priority. That’s a good long-term plan for any email marketer. It’s more important to have engaged subscribers who take action than to have high open rates with little follow-through.

Additionally, start paying attention to spam complaints and unsubscribe rates. High complaint rates and high-volume unsubscribes indicate dissatisfaction among subscribers. This means you need to look for areas of improvement in content, frequency, or targeting.

Analyzing Campaign Performance

If you feel you can’t reliably conclude how an email campaign performed without open rates, we recommend you shift focus.

There are other ways to assess how your email campaigns are doing:

ActionThe performance insight you get
Track CTR and CTORMeasure engagement beyond opens by tracking click-through rates and click-to-open rates.
Monitor spam complaints and unsubscribesHelps you identify potential issues and address subscriber concerns.
Segment your audience This aids in sending more relevant content, which leads to more opens.
Split-test different email versionsA/B testing can help you pinpoint the kind of emails that work best for your subscribers. 
Modern methods to track campaign performance

By shifting focus from open rates to more actionable metrics like CTR, CTOR, spam complaints, and unsubscribe rates, you can gain deeper insights into campaign performance and make data-driven decisions to improve results.

How to Boost Your Open Rates 

Tracking open rates may not be as straightforward as it once was, but it’s still a metric you should pay attention to. And most importantly, you must always strive to get your reader to open your email,

Follow these 10 steps to revive your opens:

  1. Use compelling subject lines: Your subject line is the first thing recipients see, so make it attention-grabbing and relevant.
  2. Segment your audience: Tailoring your emails to specific segments increases the likelihood of engagement and higher open rates.
  3. Optimize send times: Consider factors like time zones, industry norms, and your audience’s typical schedule to maximize open rates.
  4. Personalize content: Email personalization goes beyond just using the recipient’s name. Customize your emails based on past interactions, preferences, or purchase history.
  5. List quality: Maintain a clean email list by regularly removing inactive or invalid addresses to improve deliverability rates
  6. Improve sender reputation: Monitor your sender reputation and avoid practices that could trigger spam filters, such as using spammy language or purchasing email lists.
  7. Split test extensively: Continuously A/B test different elements of your emails, including subject lines, send times, content, and CTAs, to identify what combination clocks the highest open rates.
  8. Optimize emails for smartphones: Given the prevalence of mobile email opens, ensure your emails are mobile-responsive and easy to read on smaller screens. 
  9. Provide value: Whether it’s educational resources, exclusive offers, or personalized recommendations, focus on providing value to your subscribers to increase engagement and open rates.
  10. Harness the power of preheader text: Use the preheader text to complement your subject line and provide additional context or incentive for recipients to open your emails. 

Once you check these boxes, you’ll be ready to hear about a far more important aspect of email marketing you should be concentrating on — your deliverability rates.

Focus on Deliverability Over Open Rates

While we believe email marketers should pay attention to their open rates and continue tracking them, a switch in focus is required. Professionals should prioritize email deliverability, ensuring their emails land in the inboxes they’re intended for.

Points that argue in favor of email deliverability:

  • An email with a fantastic open rate is useless if it never reaches the recipient’s inbox. High email deliverability ensures your message has a chance to be seen and acted upon.
  • Emails constantly flagged as spam or sent to junk folders damage your sender reputation. This makes future emails less likely to reach inboxes, hindering all your marketing efforts.
  • When emails are delivered, CTRs, CTORs, and other engagement metrics become more meaningful. You can then accurately measure the audience’s interest in your content.

The verdict is in — in the highly competitive world of email marketing, landing in the primary inbox must be your top priority.

How to Achieve Superior Inbox Placement

Achieve high deliverability rates with these guidelines:

  1. Maintain a clean email list: Remove inactive subscribers and those who have bounced (failed deliveries).
  2. Implement authentication protocols: Add protocols like SPF (Sender Policy Framework), DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail), and DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance) to verify your sender identity and prevent email spoofing and phishing attacks.
  3. Use double opt-in method: Only send emails to those who have opted in to receive them. Double opt-in confirmation further reduces the risk of spam complaints.
  4. Have a segmentation strategy: Segment your list and send targeted emails relevant to subscriber interests. Irrelevant content can trigger spam flags.
  5. Avoid spam triggers: Steer clear of spammy language, excessive exclamation points, all-caps text, and misleading subject lines.
  6. Use a reputed ESP: It can make a huge difference to your inbox placement rates.
  7. Read the Inbox Formula: Learn the ins and outs of mastering deliverability

If you’re curious about that last point, read on.

The Inbox Formula: A Playbook on Mastering Sender Reputation 

Achieving high deliverability rates is no easy task. You’re likely doing things you consider harmless — but they may be setting off alarms on mailbox providers’ servers.

This is why The Inbox Formula is a must-read. 

This FREE 26-page guidebook teaches you all the pro secrets you need to know, from how to set up your servers and infrastructure the right way, to how to stay in the good books of email providers and ISPs. The book shares technical knowledge, best practices, industry insights, and operational steps that can completely transform your results.

If you’re looking for a top-tier strategy on how to nail inbox placement, download The Inbox Formula today!

Campaign Refinery: Accurate Metrics, Peak Deliverability

At Campaign Refinery, we focus on unique opens, since we’ve always felt that was the most accurate way to measure this metric. 

And if you’d like a more granular view of things, you can view the per-contact activity feed to check if there are multiple opens of the same content. This can be useful in a sales scenario to see if a prospect is going through emails you’ve sent recently. It can be a clue to reach out and give them a nudge towards the next stage of your sales funnel.

This is just one example of how we pay attention to minute details. 

Campaign Refinery offers you all the tools you need to achieve your ambitious email marketing goals. And it begins with a powerful commitment — we offer the best deliverability rates in the industry.

Here are all the features that make this possible:

  • Automated list cleaning: Our list-cleaner tool trims your email list to get rid of burner emails, seeder accounts, known complainers, spam traps, and role-based emails. This tool protects your sender reputation to the max!
  • Gamification: Want superior engagement metrics? Try our Gamification feature. With this feature, we have recorded open rates of 76.37% and click rates of 72.76%.
  • Flexible automation: Using automation effectively can transform your email game. This is why we made the most flexible, yet most powerful, automation designer that helps you create intricate workflows.
  • Analytics and reporting: Our analytics dashboard is the perfect combination of aesthetics and function, displaying all critical metrics intuitively.
  • Powerful email editor: Our email editor lets you specify the preheader text so your subject line gets additional firepower.

Ready to experience elite email performance? 

Apply to become a Campaign Refinery customer today!

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