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What is open rate?

Email marketing is all about finding ways to reach the right audience and nurture your relationship with them. A successful email marketing campaign requires you to understand how your subscribers react to your messages so you can adjust them accordingly.

To gauge the performance of marketing emails, having access to the right data is pivotal. There are several key metrics that you, the marketer, should monitor to keep a finger on the pulse of your subscriber base. Your open rate is one of these key metrics.

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What is an open rate? How do you calculate email open rate? What is a good open rate? What affects open rates? How can you improve your open rate? Clean your lists
Make your emails accessible
Segment your subscribers
How does Apple MPP impact open rate? Conclusion

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What is an open rate?

Email open rate refers to the percentage of email recipients who open your marketing emails. Knowing your open rate is important because it allows you to understand how well your emails perform with a specific audience. 

Moreover, open rates can be a good indicator of the quality of your subject lines, letting you know when they aren’t grabbing your recipient’s attention.

When using the right email marketing software, having access to this information can be extremely powerful since it enables you to fine-tune your email marketing content to target specific segments.

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How do you calculate email open rate?

Open rates are calculated by taking the number of emails opened and dividing it by the total number of emails sent.

Importantly, only unique opens are factored into this calculation, meaning that if a subscriber opens a message multiple times, it only counts as one open. 

By the same token, only delivered emails are counted towards the total send. Bounced emails do not count, as they could skew your perception of how your email marketing campaign is performing.

Fortunately, it isn’t necessary to do this calculation manually. Your chosen email service provider (ESP) calculates your open rate for you and provides you with the information in the dashboard of your email marketing platform.

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What is a good open rate?

It’s difficult to say definitively what constitutes a good open rate for marketing emails. This is because there are so many variables at play. Instead, your benchmark depends on factors such as your industry, product, and target demographic.

That said, when we take all industries into account, the average email open rate is around 21%. This number can be used as a loose guideline, but as an email marketer, you would be well-advised to do some research and find more industry-specific data to inform your actions.

What affects open rates?

There are a multitude of factors that can affect email open rates. For instance, if a subscriber has some prior knowledge about your organization or some experience with your product, this may affect the likelihood that they will open your marketing emails.

However, for subscribers who are not well-versed in who you are and what you have to offer, the most important factors to consider are the sender name and subject line of your email. 

These allow you to catch the reader’s attention and offer email recipients a glimpse into what you’re about. As such, it’s worth putting a lot of thought into what you choose to include in the space provided.

How can you improve your open rate?

Just as there are many factors that contribute to your open rate, there are many ways that you can improve it. Below are just of few ways that you can achieve better open rates:

Clean your lists

The fact of the matter is that subscriber-brand relationships run cold on occasion. There are a myriad of reasons for this, most of which are out of your control as a marketer. What is in your control, however, is the hygiene of your email lists.

If subscribers have become inactive, they may have decided they no longer want to interact with your brand. If it’s not possible to reengage them, removing them from your list will help to keep your open rate and deliverability in good shape.

Make your emails accessible

There are many reasons why email recipients might not open your emails at the rate you want, and sometimes it can come down to logistics. Emails perform differently at different times of the day and on different days of the week. Doing A/B testing can help you to learn what works best to improve your email marketing campaigns.

In addition, it’s advisable to optimize your emails for mobile devices, since they account for such a high volume of online activity. By making it easier and more convenient for your subscribers to read your emails, it’s possible to increase your open rate.

Segment your subscribers

One of the key ways to improve open rates is to ensure that your emails are directed at those who are likely to be most interested. Segmenting your subscribers will help you to gauge engagement levels and determine the most relevant ones to send your content to. By segmenting your campaigns, you can improve your open rate (as well as other factors, such as conversions).

How does Apple MPP impact open rate?

Apple Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) released as part of its iOS 15 release on September 20, 2021. Apple MPP is an opt-in feature that masks a recipient’s IP address. It also caches all images automatically, which means the pixel responsible for determining if a user opens an email is no longer a reliable indicator that they have.

In other words, users who opt in to Apple MPP can skew your open rate, making it equally unreliable for helping determine the success of your email marketing campaigns.

As more users embrace Apple MPP, or if your mailing list is predominantly made up of Apple Mail users, it’s worth focusing on other metrics — such as your click rate and conversion rate — to measure the reach of your marketing efforts.

Conclusion

Open rate is a critical metric for measuring the performance of an email marketing campaign, but it does not guarantee success by itself. Having a good open rate increases your potential for success, but it must be followed up with well-crafted, and relevant copy that will keep your subscribers engaged and nurture your relationship with them.

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