Email open rate: understand the importance and relationship with other Email Marketing metrics

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To measure the results of Email Marketing work, the 1st metric we need to track is email open rate; understand how it is calculated and the importance of tracking it

Email Marketing is one of the most popular and efficient ways to relate to your Leads and customers. With it, you create an open and direct channel of communication with these people and you can help them move forward in the purchase journey. To measure success on this channel, there’s one metric we should all look at: email open rate .

The open rate of an Email Marketing campaign is always one of the main metrics monitored. It represents a direct indicator to measure performance and is essential to measure the attractiveness of email campaigns.

The main market tools deliver this metric in a clear way, as is the case of RD Station Marketing , which also makes available a series of other relevant indicators in this monitoring of the channel, as Blue World City will see later on here.

Now check out how this metric is calculated, what are the reasons that make it so important in the routine of analyzing Marketing actions and what are the best tips to improve this indicator and its performance in the channel .

Why should we track email open rate?

The email open rate does not say whether the Lead read just one word of the email or the entire email. However, that doesn’t mean that this is a useless metric. It is a great thermometer to discover important points , such as:

  • set the best subject in an A/B test ; 
  • know the best time to send your emails;
  • identify the attractiveness of your campaign.

The fact is: if your company sends relevant emails, with good frequency, keeping the list engaged, there are great chances of guaranteeing a good performance when we look at the email open rate.

Speaking of this metric, we must always relate the performance of the open rate with the subject of each email . After all, it is from this that the user will identify whether the theme of that message draws attention to the opening and whether or not it is relevant to him.

That’s why the A/B test works as an essential tool to have good results in your Email Marketing actions . With the test, you can select a reduced Leads base and evaluate which of two different subjects performs better. With the result, you can send the same email to a larger Leads base, already with the confidence of having a good result based on the test.

How is the email open rate calculated?

The formula for calculating the email open rate is quite simple:

Email open rate = emails opened / (emails sent – ​​emails rejected)

The first time the user opens the message, there is a hidden image that opens automatically and is cached  on the mail server. Thus, the view is counted for everyone who opens it, but only once, although each person will open the same email over and over again, regardless of the platform used.

It turns out that, many times, the open rate is far below the desired average. But you need to have this number as a performance parameter. More than knowing the rate, it is necessary to create monitoring mechanisms and rapid changes in strategy based on these analyses , so that it improves and remains good over time.

This means it’s important not only to analyze the open rates of your email campaigns, but to try to improve them.

The good news is: if you see a low open rate in your emails and don’t know what to do to improve your results, be aware that the process of increasing it is simpler than you think. It requires analysis and dedication to review the strategy, but it is possible and has an effect.

We realized that sending emails with personal texts and that speak directly to Leads , making this clear in the subject of your emails, has had more effect. This result happens because they connect to the problem and its pains and then become interested in the solutions presented by you.

6 tips on how to improve your email open rate

Now let’s get to know in a practical way what are the main tips you should follow to improve your email open rate result.

1. Pay attention to the timing when sending the email

Email Marketing campaigns assume that all Leads from a base have an interest in a topic at any time. But that doesn’t mean you should send emails every day. All actions must be well planned.

It is necessary to assess the right timing, based on the time of the Buying Journey , to understand what volume of email campaigns can work.

Timing must also be associated with each Lead’s profile. When a contact reaches a score  within the stages in the Buying Journey – usually after an action taken – he can start receiving emails from a specific flow, created for him and his moment.

This intelligent and automated way of defining the timing of the approach can make a difference in the opening of the email and adherence to the contents sent there.

2. Create strategies according to the size of the Leads and segmentation base

Every email has a theme that will be addressed and also a goal that needs to reach, usually through the CTA (Call to Action) . So you must agree that it’s not your entire Leads base that is interested in every email you produce, right?

The size of a Leads base  directly affects email actions. A small base can work well with Email Marketing, as long as some targeting is done.

On a larger basis, the nutrition flow is the best strategy, because it is possible to analyze in more detail and separate each Lead according to its status. It’s no use sending several subjects and materials together or making a single list and sending everything to her, without criteria and strategy.

Today, it is possible to segment by the stage the Lead is in on the Shopping Journey , using the position or other base information that may affect the approach with your contacts. Wrong communication in an email or at the wrong time can mean the loss of a Lead on one basis and low open rate.

3. Have a clear objective in the strategy of each email

Before thinking about increasing your email open rate, you should take steps to leave it with a clear goal. This should be one of the main concerns, both when choosing the list of Leads that will receive the campaign and when defining the subject and content that will be sent.

Think of it like this : if you create a list to make your relationship with your Leads easier and faster, this facility cannot represent a relaxation of planning the next steps you want Leads to take after opening the email.

Connection and communication should be clear, like a conversation between friends. Of course, to arouse interest in this goal, it is necessary to know who is on the other side of the email and create urgency in that message sent. Having clear and differential goals will affect decision-making, motivation, actions and, consequently, the opening rate.

4. Evaluate the best days and times to send emails

You’ve probably read about studies proving that there are better times and days to send your emails. This definition has several variables and the peculiarities of each segment of activity must be considered.

When you send an email campaign, open rates naturally grow faster right after this trigger , in the first few minutes. Based on your history, you can identify and choose the moment when you usually guarantee the highest percentage of openness, indicating that your base has this time as the most available to access your inbox.

This assessment is different for Leads that enter a nutrition stream via email , as it is received according to a periodicity programmed by the automation. It can be 1, 3, 5 or 7 days, for example, regardless of the day of the week.

As in social media strategies, there are behavior patterns of people in front of the computer or mobile that interfere in the result of email actions. So, the tip is to follow the data and test it against your contact base.

Searches for the best days and times

According to a CoSchedule study , updated in 2018, Tuesday at 10:00 am is the best time to send an email. Mondays should be avoided when people’s inboxes are often full and the first thing most people do is check numerous emails that were forwarded over the weekend.

CoSchedule survey data indicate the best times to send emails

Fridays, eves and days following holidays should also be avoided, when tasks also tend to accumulate. According to the study, combining the raw numbers and averaging the best performing days and times, some standout results are:

  • The best day to send emails is Tuesday, when there is less demand than Monday. That day gets the highest rate of open emails compared to any other day of the week;
  • As for times, there are peaks that work better. 10:00 am or around this time is the winner because most people are already awake and working. However, any time during the normal working day, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, is considered good timing;
  • Start testing the best times that are different from the most common ones, which are always round ones like 10:00hs or 16:00hs. You can test this by sending emails with varying peak periods to see what time your list will respond best. The goal is to find the best day for your own audience.

5. Think carefully about planning the call and content

To prepare the contents, it is worth following the CURVE method in its contents: It must meet the following criteria: C = curiosity; U = urgency; R = relevance; V = value and E = emotion.

In the subject of your emails, pique curiosity with something attractive to your Lead is the best tip. When using urgency, it will produce better results if you call them to some immediate action. Making them believe they’re missing something essential if they don’t click meets curiosity and urgency requirements.

The relevance of the content can define the opening of an email or not. That’s why it’s so important to make sure the subject is relevant and the information is really valuable before sending it to your base.

Remember that content must contain emotion when talking to your audience . Researches prove that elaborating subjects that speak with emotion produce better results, mainly in opening emails.

Another important tip is to ensure that emails promise what they deliver. If you make false promises, maybe your emails have a high open rate at first, considering the titles covered and the attractive sale of good and interesting content.

But over time, your numbers will drop and it will be difficult to grow back as people will have less confidence in you. So make sure your emails do what you propose when people click . Losing credibility is the worst of all worlds for any company.

6. Format all emails in a clear, objective and personalized way

Lastly, you should create short, descriptive subject lines and titles, as well as a clear call-to-action. This can result in better openness and engagement of actions. How you format your email can have a big impact on how people perceive and interact.

That’s why personalization  is also important. Using people’s names gets more of their attention and immediately makes your email seem more personal, informal, useful and relevant. Automation tools make it simple.

Keep in mind that you are competing with too many emails in someone’s inbox . Therefore, clearly stating what the person has to do to obtain the information you have prepared for him is always the best option. In Digital Marketing , it is a bad idea to assume that people will understand something intuitively or what is implied.

Remember that each email must have only one message and one purpose. If the person likes and enjoys your first email, the chances of them downloading and reading the next content and materials you send grows considerably.

How does open rate work within nutrition flow strategies?

It is clear that Email Marketing is a powerful Digital Marketing tool to maintain a relationship with Leads. However, we realize that just sending newsletters  to a Leads base, indiscriminately, is not efficient. 

It is necessary to segment each Lead according to its interest and moment in the journey, as we mentioned before . That’s where the nutrition flow comes in, with personalized emails for businesses to grow more scalable.

A flow of nutrition always has a beginning, a middle and an end. A sequence of emails are sent, within an automation flow, to a chosen segment within an email base. The purpose of this is to make the Lead achieve a certain goal.

This sequence of nutrition emails is part of a trigger, that is, some action prepared to attract this Lead. It can be downloading a material  or visiting a page. From this movement, the sequence of emails is automatically triggered, until it takes the Lead to a pre-determined objective.

To measure the effectiveness of these flows, the email open rate plays an essential role. It is from this metric that you can measure whether the emails created for this sequence are in fact relevant.

How to improve nutrition email open rates?

It’s sad when we prepare rich content , such as eBooks and infographics, which demand a lot of time and energy and people don’t even see it. Materials like this usually involve investment and specialized teams, formed by creatives, journalists, strategists and programmers.

We write emails to distribute these productions effectively. We create well-crafted nutrition streams, providing quality materials in anticipation of emails being opened. But all this work could fall short of expectations if the opening rate is lower than expected.

It can’t stay that way. And in the case of the nutrition flow email, you can follow the same tips we saw just now.

An important and more specific tip is to understand the details related to how your persona  is evolving as you receive emails. We often think we know what she will be interested in, but the interest can change over time.

If this happens, you can use surveys to gather feedback on the emails sent.

What are the main Email Marketing metrics?

In addition to email open rate, what are the other Email Marketing metrics  we need to measure to measure channel results?

We will now present the main ones that your company must follow in order to understand how to do a complete analysis.

1. List growth rate

It is the percentage of new emails out of the list total. This metric allows us to observe how the construction of a relevant base as a Digital Marketing asset is going.

For example, if in January your company had 10,000 Leads and at the end of February this number rose to 11,000 Leads, it means a 10% growth. It is these new Leads that breathe life into email campaigns, as they are more likely to engage with your company.

The greater this growth, the better. If this rate is bad, it means that the company is not investing in attracting new Leads, and the tendency is for the results to become worse and worse. A bad rate could mean that your company needs to invest more in lead generation .

Note: don’t even think about buying email lists to improve this number. Not only because this purchase is illegal, but also because the quality of the list and the results are usually very bad in every way. Learn more about this in the post Why you should avoid buying email lists .

2. List inactivation fee

On the other hand, there is also the inactivation fee. Over time, it is natural that Leads stop engaging with your company, whether opening and clicking on emails, or performing a conversion, such as downloading a material. It also happens that the email addresses themselves become invalid (hard bounces).

There is no number that can be called a rule to define if a Lead is not engaged. You can consider a Lead not engaging when it hasn’t converted for more than 6 months. Some companies consider inactive someone who hasn’t opened or clicked on an email in a while.

Ideally, you should do a baseline analysis to find out the current number of inactive leads according to the cutoff criteria your company defines. Once this is done, analyze monthly how many Leads become inactive .

3. Click-through rate (CTR: click-through rate)

The click-through rate shows how many emails were clicked on compared to how many were delivered. For example, if 10,000 emails were delivered and the campaign received 500 clicks, that means a 5% click-through rate.

As well as the open rate, this metric should not be analyzed alone, even though it is common to find companies that only care about the click through rate. Without a doubt, it is one of the most important items to evaluate, but analyzing it exclusively and separately does not show where the problem lies.

In the example above, you have a view of this and other metrics that you can follow in the analysis area of ​​each email campaign within RD Station Marketing.

Of course, an email with a low open rate tends to have fewer clicks. But the best thing is to combine the analysis with the open rate and define the CTOR (click-to-open rate).

4. Click-to-open rate (CTOR: click-to-open rate)

This metric is the result of the split between click and open. It is the proportion of clicks compared to the base that opened the email.

For example,  if a campaign had 1,000 opens and 200 clicks, the CTOR was 20% (200/1,000).

The CTOR is one of the main indicators of a campaign’s success, as it will show if the message was relevant and if the offer was good enough, as well as if the targeting that was done for the trigger was in fact well done.

When we measure the CTOR, we can identify the problem more clearly: we see if there were no clicks because the content is bad (after the email was opened) or if the open rate is lower than expected (and the problem is in the subject, shipping schedule and branded history).

It is also important to be clear that the CTOR may vary depending on the type of email being sent . Transactional emails often have much larger CTORs than promotional emails. That said, it’s interesting to do the analyzes separately between these types.

5. Leads generated

One of these metrics that we must also monitor in the email channel is the number of Leads generated.

This is an analysis that is worth doing, as it is useless to bring many people to your Landing Page or your website and not get a conversion from that.

If the conversion rate  after click is low, your company can invest in optimizing the conversion rate of the conversion page, or even use an A/B test on Landing Pages for Lead generation, if not already doing.

6. Effectiveness of the funnel campaign

At a more advanced level of analysis comes the effectiveness of a campaign. Effectiveness can be assessed in two steps: the rate of Leads that became Qualified Leads , the rate of Leads that became sales leads, and the number of customers.

For example: according to the image below, it is clear which campaign brought the best result for the operation, with the highest percentage of effectiveness and number of opportunities.

This is a report from Marketing BI , RD Station Marketing’s analysis functionality that shows information about the results of Marketing actions for the company as a whole and also for each acquisition channel, including Email Marketing.

7. Unsubscribe rate and spam tagging

The per submission unsubscribe rate indicates how many people have opted out of your list and reflects issues with content quality or submission frequency. A high rate of unsubscribes is a big alert for your company and indicates a need for reformulation in the Email Marketing sending policy.

Another similar metric worth tracking is the number of spam complaints . This number must always be below 0.1%. Otherwise, the list is bad and will only end up hurting your reputation on the servers. 

Benchmark: A good unsubscribe rate is 1% or less.

8. Hard bounce rate

Quickly summed up, a hard bounce is an invalid email. When your company sends emails with a certain frequency to a base, this rate will hardly be high.

It’s good to follow it to see if there was anything out of the ordinary, that is, a sudden increase in the number of hard bounces.

Have you analyzed all these metrics in Email Marketing campaigns triggered by your company? These are the main ones related to the Email Marketing work that you need to observe frequently in order to understand if your campaigns are succeeding or not. Also use them to define the next actions.

To learn more about the subject, download our free eBook The Email Marketing Guide , a material with everything you need to know to strengthen customer relationships and generate business results. 

How do I know if my email metrics are good?

Most Email Marketing tools offer different types of reports and metrics. Understanding what each of these indicators means and identifying what is really important is what allows us to know the real return of the campaigns and, above all, discover possibilities for improvement.

However, one of the most common questions for those who work with email is whether their metrics are good. After all, how much is a good open rate? And a good click-through rate?

And even if you identify an acceptable average, a second question arises: Does this average match my industry?

A software company has different averages than an ecommerce company, for example. And that’s why it’s important to analyze Email Marketing metrics according to your segment.

But how will I find this data? The answer is below.

Email Marketing Benchmarking Tool

The Email Marketing Benchmarking tool will help you compare the performance of your email campaigns with those of companies operating in the same industry as yours and find out how you can improve your results.

What the tool does:

  • Indicates the open and click rates of companies in your segment;
  • Find opportunities to improve the metrics of your Email Marketing campaigns;
  • Shows you how to optimize these rates and increase the engagement of your email campaigns.
  • After making the diagnosis, the tool offers a simulation option to show what the potential increase in the results of your campaigns if the metrics are optimized according to the average of your market.
  • If your metrics are above, congratulations! However, don’t settle down. It’s time to optimize your actions and try to improve them even more.
  • But if your metrics are below, don’t panic. To improve them, there are a number of best practices that should be adopted, from how your email list is built to optimizations in the email campaign itself. These are strategies that not only can improve the results of your campaigns, but can also contribute to bringing more traffic, conversions and sales to your company .


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