Typical Open Rate for Email Blasts / Email Marketing Initiatives / Direct Mail

Often clients ask me what is the standard “Open Rate” for email blasts so that they can have an idea about their last email campaign did.

(“Open Rate” refers the number of unique recipients who opened the email newsletter divided by the total number of recipients that were sent the email newsletter – This term is often used in Email Marketing to measure the success of a campaign)

Before proceeding, we should make a distinction between “Unique Open Rates” and the “Total Open Rates”; the former refers to the unique number of recipients whom opened the email (so even if a particular recipient opens the same email several times it would still only count as once) whereas the latter refers to the total number of times an email was opened even if the same recipient opens the email a multiple number of times.

For marketing purposes, it is the industry practice to refer to Unique Open Rates rather than Total Open Rates.

There isn’t a gold standard per se that you must hit for your email campaign to be considered a success. However, of course the higher the Unique Open Rates the more successful the campaign is. It is important to note that the (i) email marketing platform you use, (ii) the email communication itself and (iii) the quality of your email list will have an impact on Unique Open Rates.

(i) Email Marketing Platform

Your Email Marketing Platform plays an important role in achieving better Unique Open Rates. Where it should have a function to automatically take out email addresses that have bounced in the past. It ensures that you do not send emails to email accounts that no longer exist. Thus, it would naturally increase the Unique Open Rates.  Most email marketing systems such as SendSmith, Constant Contact, Vertical Response, etc. will do this.

(ii) Email Communication

The Email Communication or EDM (Electronic Direct Mailing) must be professionally-designed and visually-appealing; this first impression will be important as most users will make a decision on whether read more or delete the email based on the first impression. With an increasing number of users viewing emails through mobile devices, it is important for the EDM to be mobile-responsive. Also try to adopt best practices to avoid being caught by spam filter will also increase delivery rates and thus open rates (See article on “Best Practice to Avoid Ending Up in the Spam Box“)

(iii) Quality of Your Email List

The quality of your email list will have a dramatic impact on the Unique Open Rates. This is because if you have a list of highly-engaged recipients then the Unique Open Rates will reflect that. To achieve better Unique Open Rates, ensure that the email marketing platform you use offers automatic bounced email address removal, opt-in /opt-out features and list segmentation. List segmentation refers to your ability to categorise your recipients based on their interests (e.g. I segment my email list into the type of music the recipient has expressed interest in and whether he/she attended one of our shows. Thus, when organising a jazz event I only send to the jazz list). Therefore, when sending out the EDM you should only choose the segments of your email list that the EDM targets.

In conclusion, I think any email campaign should at least aim to achieve above 10% Unique Open Rates. Anything less probably means that one or a combination of the above parameters needs addressing.