In the context of email campaigns, the open rate is the measurement of the percentage of recipients who opened the email. This KPI is an interesting indicator of your ability to :
- get your emails to the target’s inbox (bypass spam filters);
- Make yourself visible in a context where decision-makers’ inboxes are flooded with emails;
- find email objects that are attractive enough to drive clicks.
Although it is an essential indicator in measuring the performance of email campaigns, the open rate is often over-interpreted. We explain everything in this practical guide.
Emailing : what is the opening rate ?
As its name suggests, the open rate (OR) is an indicator that measures the percentage of emails opened in a specific email campaign. In other words, it is the proportion of the target (newsletter subscribers, customer database…) that opened your email as part of an emailing campaign.
If the opening rate remains a key indicator of the performance and success of your campaigns (without opening, the content produced will be useless), it must be contextualized and completed by other KPIs. Be careful not to overinterpret this indicator. We talk about this in the “opening rate limits” section.
The formula for the opening rate is amazingly simple:
An open rate of 30% indicates, for example, that 3 out of 10 recipients have opened the email you sent them as part of your email campaign.
Marketing tools that support email campaigns like Twilead automatically generate detailed reports with various campaign performance indicators, including open rate, click-through rate, deliverability rate, unsubscribe rate, bounce rate (hard bounce and soft bounce), etc.
Opening rate figures and benchmarks
Like all marketing KPIs, the open rate must be contextualized with relevant benchmarks. A figure presented in absolute terms, without any contextual elements, does not necessarily provide any information and does not help guide marketing decisions.
Opening rates by sector of activity
According to the 2022 edition of the Email Marketing Benchmarks Report, the average email open rate across all industries is 21.5 percent, a 3.5 point increase over last year. This is yet another proof that the “email” format is not only resisting. It consolidates its place as a leading marketing channel, whether in lead nurturing, sales prospecting or loyalty efforts.
The industry, education and financial services sectors have the highest opening rates, with an average of 25-28%. Real estate leads the way on the 2022 Benchmark with an opening rate of 17.1%. Here are some other examples to help you see how you stack up against the average for your industry:
|Sectors of activity||Average opening rate|
|Marketing and advertising||20,5 %|
|Consumer goods||20,0 %|
|Financial Services||27,1 %|
|Government and politics||19,4 %|
|IT and software||22,7 %|
|Media and entertainment||23,9 %|
|Professional Services||19,3 %|
|Real estate and construction||21,7 %|
|Hotel and leisure||20,2 %|
|Wellness and fitness||19,2 %|
|Average (2022)||21,5 %|
This list must be qualified by some remarks:
- The average open rate of emails sent by the authorities and the government is artificially high, since it includes emails that concern taxation, voter registration, etc.
- The opening rate of emails from charities and NGOs has been growing steadily for several years, probably thanks to the absence of any commercial connotation in a context where our inboxes are full of advertisements.
- The numbers in the 2022 Email Marketing Benchmarks Report differ somewhat from those found in the MailChimp benchmark, among others. It is always useful to compare your opening rate to sector benchmarks, but we advise you not to neglect comparisons over time, i.e. between the opening rates of your different campaigns to measure the evolution and the relevance of the corrective measures implemented.
Opening rates by day and time of broadcast
In addition to industry comparisons, many studies have compared the open rates of email campaigns depending on the day and time of sending.
Open rate: what is the best time window to send an email?
A rigorous statistical study conducted by Get Response in 2022(available here) analyzed the impact of the time the email was sent on its performance as measured by the open rate. Summary of results:
- Surprisingly, the biggest spike in email open rate occurs… at 4:00 am (27.2%). This variable can be explained by two factors. First, the “Rising Early” trend, with more and more decision makers getting up very early and going to bed very early. Second, the Get Response sample is relatively small on emails sent at 4:00 am for obvious reasons.
- The other peak occurs around 8am, with an estimated opening rate of 22.03%;
- The opening rate fell gradually throughout the morning, before rising again to record a peak at noon (21.41%);
- It drops again as the afternoon progresses, before rising sharply from 15 to reach a peak around 18:00 (25.07%);
- The opening rate logically drops throughout the evening, with a minimum of 14% between 11pm and 2am.
Open rate: what is the best day to send an email?
By now you know that the emails with the best open rates (across all industries) are sent around 8am, around noon, around 6pm and around 4am. What about the best day of the week?
Based on the same Get Response study, we can see that the day of the week doesn’t matter, as long as you avoid the weekend, of course. We have chosen to break down the open rate, but also the click-through rate (CTR), on the days of the week, insofar as the open rate varies very little from Monday to Friday:
|Day||Opening rate||Click-through rate (CTR)|
If we reason by the couple “opening rate – click rate”, the best day to execute an emailing campaign is Monday, followed by Friday, and the worst day is Saturday, followed by Sunday. To summarize, and taking into account the average of all sectors of activity, the opening rate is at its maximum on Monday and Friday at 4am, around 8am, around noon and around 6pm.
Of course, nothing beats first-hand data from your own email campaigns and measured on your target and your sector of activity.
How to improve your opening rate?
Are your emailing campaigns registering low open rates? Here are the top 7 reasons why you may have a lower than average open rate, and our tips for dealing with them.
- If deliverability is not a problem (no hard bounces), stop for a moment on the subject of your emails. With your domain name, the subject line is the only contact your recipient has with the email before clicking. In general, items that are intriguing, personalized and do not overuse commercial superlatives do well. It is imperative to do Test & Learn, with A/B tests to identify the best object for your campaigns.
- Commercial content only. Your subscribers expect added value. They are looking for advice, tips, actionable ideas or simply a news watch. If you only deliver Company – Centric content that simply praises your company and its offerings, you’re not likely to improve your open rates… ;
- Off topic content. This happens when you have not properly segmented your subscribers, or when you are not in tune with your target’s interests. Sending the same newsletter or the same prospecting email to as many people as possible is a losing strategy. Rework your segmentation and offer some degree of personalization to improve the performance of your campaigns.
- Today, most email clients block images by default, and ask the user to activate them manually. This complicates the measurement of the open rate, especially if the recipient does not click on any link in the email. This is why the opening rate cannot be analyzed separately from the opening rate, the unsubscribe rate, etc.
- You are spamming. Perhaps you send emails far too often? To prevent this problem, explicitly mention to your target the frequency of the mailings as soon as you register, or even directly in the form. If you can, allow them to choose a personalized frequency (weekly, monthly, quarterly…).
- Your domain name is penalized or blacklisted. In this case, it is the deliverability that is impacted, and with it the opening rate and the click rate.
- A poor quality database. If you have purchased your DB from a third-party vendor, your open rate may be structurally low. This case can also occur with a database that has not been maintained, and therefore has redundant entries (several emails sent to the same address) and/or obsolete entries (people who have retired or changed sector of activity, for example).
- You are not persistent enough. Attention: the idea here is not to spam, but rather to insist intelligently to attract the attention of the target. For example, you can automate the following process: resend the email to users who did not open it by changing the subject and timing. The recipient will not know that it is a redundant email. Use this tip sparingly.
Twilead, the marketing hub for your company
Marketing automation, email marketing, lead generation media creation, site creation and sales tunnels… It’s simple: by developing Twilead, we have created a true marketing hub that encompasses all the functionalities of other tools in a single platform.
On the emailing side, Twilead allows you to reactivate your database in a few clicks with attractive emails that boost the performance of your campaigns:
- Stand out from the crowd with tried and tested email templates;
- Make sure your emails are delivered in an optimal way;
- Make sure your campaigns are 100% GDPR compliant.
Book your demo now and send your sales and marketing performance into orbit with Twilead!