Email campaigns are an important part of any successful content marketing strategy. But unless people are actually opening your emails to access your content, your efforts are going nowhere.
Calculating your average email open rate allows you to track how successful your campaigns are and how you can improve to make your strategy more efficient for the future.
What Is an Email Open Rate?
An email open rate is the percentage of recipients who opened an email campaign. This percentage is considered against the total number of recipients of the campaign.
Your email open rate is an important metric within your email marketing strategy, as it shows how effective your efforts are. It can provide insight into the relevance of your content to the recipient.
For example, having a low average email open rate means that your emails are not relevant to your recipients. This directly connects to the relationship between your mailing list subscribers and your company – your mailing list should be composed of a high quality target audience interested in your content.
If your campaign is not relevant to your subscribers, then you’re likely targeting the wrong people, and your content marketing efforts are focused in the wrong place.
How to Calculate Email Open Rates
Calculating your email open rate is actually a very simple process.
Email Open Rate = (Number of Emails Read / Number of Emails Sent – Number of Emails Bounced) x 100
Here’s an example:
Say you send 50 emails. Of those 50, seven of those emails bounce, and 15 are opened. Let’s do the math:
Open Rate = (15 / 50 – 7) x 100
15/43 = .34
.34 x 100 = 34 percent
Your email open rate from this campaign is 34 percent.
What Makes a Good Email Open Rate?
HubSpot reports that the average email open rate across all industries is about 32 percent.
However, take this information with a grain of salt. Mailchimp also conducted a survey and reported that the average open rate across industries is 20.81 percent. That’s a pretty substantial difference.
It’s important to draw your focus away from this overarching number because average open rates vary greatly depending on your industry.
You can’t measure the success of your campaign against the overall average open rate – you have to consider the percentage for your specific industry.
HubSpot surveyed 28 industries and found that marketing and advertising companies have the lowest average open rates, while arts and entertainment, construction, human resources, legal, and real estate have the highest rates.
The ranking of these industry percentages seem to be consistent with the results of Mailchimp’s study.
Here’s the full list of industries and their average open rate percentages:
- Arts and Entertainment: 47 percent
- Auto: 35 percent
- Beauty and Fitness: 40 percent
- Biotech: 37 percent
- Business and Industrial: 41 percent
- Software: 28 percent
- Computers and Electronics: 35 percent
- Construction: 45 percent
- Design and Development: 39 percent
- Event Services: 35 percent
- Finance: 40 percent
- Healthcare: 33 percent
- Hospitality: 40 percent
- HR: 44 percent
- IT: 38 percent
- Insurance: 38 percent
- Internet and Telecom: 40 percent
- Jobs and Education: 32 percent
- Legal and Government: 44 percent
- Management Consulting: 40 percent
- Marketing and Advertising: 25 percent
- Media: 32 percent
- Non-Profit: 28 percent
- Professional Training and Coaching: 36 percent
- PR and Communications: 28 percent
- Real Estate: 42 percent
- Shopping: 41 percent
- Travel: 28 percent
Measure the success of your campaign by calculating your open rate and comparing it against your industry’s average.
10 Ways to Improve Your Open Rates
If you don't have a particularly high open rate within your industry, don't worry! Nobody is a wizard at email marketing right from the start.
There's plenty of improvements you can make to increase the efficiency of your campaigns and get those emails opened.
These are 10 of the best ways to improve your open rates:
1. Segment Your Lists.
Make sure that your content is getting sent to the right people. Segment your contacts into different lists based on factors like interest, category, and their place in the buyer’s journey.
You shouldn’t be sending out the same content to someone who’s in the awareness stage as someone who’s in the conversion stage.
2. Keep Subject Lines Short and Sweet.
Your subject lines should be short and direct but creative enough to engage your recipients. You want to draw them in and intrigue them – the goal, obviously, is to interest them enough to open your message!
3. Optimize for Mobile Experience.
More often than not, people check their emails on their phone these days.
Make sure your email format is optimized for a user-friendly mobile experience, and recipients will be more likely to open your messages, knowing that they can read them on the go.
4. Add a Human Element.
Does anyone ever open those emails they get from firstname.lastname@example.org?
Sending campaigns from a personal email rather than an administrator account adds a human element and is more likely to get a positive response from recipients.
5. Avoid Spam Filters.
Spam filters are the downfall of your open rate. If your email lands in someone’s spam filter, you better believe that it’s never getting opened. To avoid this, quite simply – make sure your email doesn’t look like spam.
Don’t put your subject line in all capitals, and avoid using the words “sale,” “free,” or “deal” in the header.
You should also limit the number of hyperlinks included in your email, as filter algorithms see this as a red flag.
6. Find the Right Time to Send.
Sending your campaigns out at a specific time can help determine the success of their open rate. If you send out a campaign at the end of the day, it will likely be buried under a mass of other emails by the time someone checks their inbox the next morning.
According to HubSpot, 11A.M. ET is the best time to send out an email marketing campaign.
7. Ensure Your Content is High Value.
Only a few pieces of your top performing content should be included in email campaigns.
If you include shallow, low quality content, recipients won’t find value in your emails and likely won’t open the next one. But if your content is relevant and useful, they’ll look out for your next message!
8. Keep Your List Fresh.
You might think that having as many people on your subscriber list as possible is a good thing, but it can actually hurt your average open rate.
Sending your campaigns to stale contacts from several years ago will likely drag your open rate down, as they probably no longer have an interest in your content, and will thus leave all your emails unread.
Your subscriber list should be tailored to a fresh, specific target audience who will be interested in your content.
9. Carefully Curate Your Image Use.
HubSpot has reported that “as the number of images in an email increases, the clickthrough rate of the email tends to decrease.”
You need to find the right balance of visual elements in your email – including captivating images is important, but don’t overload your campaign with too many, or it will look spammy. Find a happy medium between written and visual content in your email design.
10. Use Names.
Emails are far more likely to be opened if they look like they’ve been written directly to the recipient. When a recipient sees their name used in an email, it grabs their attention and prompts them to open it.
Some email marketing management systems will allow you to use personalized tokens so you can address each contact by their first name in the opening before you get into the body of the email.
This Isn't One and Done
Calculating your average email open rate is not a one and done process. You should assess the average open rate of every email campaign you send out in order to track exactly how far your marketing efforts are going and how you can improve them to optimize reach and efficiency.
Furthermore, if you have a high average click rate for your industry, tracking this allows you to see what you're doing right in your campaigns, so you can build upon those efforts and replicate them for the future.