Metric of the month No. 3 – The Open Rate

What is an Open Rate?

Welcome to the third of Joe’s short sharp articles that are intended to demystify some of the jargon that can cause confusion or be deliberately used to try and overcomplicate an essentially simple concept.

The Open Rate is a beautifully simply measure. It’s most commonly used in the arena of e-mail marketing and is accessible to everyone using even the simplest of email management platforms.

  • For every 100 emails you send, if 20 are opened – your Open Rate is 20%.  

The higher your open rate, the more engaged your audience are and the more likely they are to buy from you – It’s not rocket science.

What is a good Open Rate?

The next questions I’m nearly always asked is – What is a good open rate?

I’m sorry to say that there is no such thing as good. There are so many variables from industry to industry, size and warmth of database deployed, sales generation strategy etc. Instead it’s important to focus on getting the best results for your campaigns and to keep trying new approaches or tweaking existing campaigns to get the best results possible.

As you would expect, a small highly selected audience, that have already shown an interest in your products and services, would have a higher open rate than an email list bought in that have never heard of your before.

Just as in any other form of marketing – the better your content, the higher the degree of personalisation and relevance and the more compelling your offer – the higher your open rate will be.

Why is Open Rate so important?

Whatever you are promoting – if your email is not opened, your potential customer is unlikely to call you, link through to your e-commerce area or visit you in person. It’s the equivalent of the paper-based mail you may have sent, going straight into the bin.

This analogy does highlight an interesting parallel. In my experience, when it costs over £1 per recipient to post a message, marketing teams are all over their response rates and conversion levels. However, because email marketing is so cheap (in terms of cost per recipient) the Open Rate can be overlooked.

Don’t focus on quantity over quality

Marketing teams can end up chasing volumes of recipients for the hope of volumes of responses – I think this is short-sighted and just vanity metrics.

Put yourselves in your customers shoes. We all know that when we start to feel “spammed” or hassled or just bogged down by emails from companies we don’t care about – we hit the unsubscribe – or worse still, the spam flag and never hear from them again.

This is potential customers blocking you from ever talking to them again. It also has knock on effects to other customers, as your mail provider will start to think you are up to something you shouldn’t be.

Of course the Open Rate is not the be all and end all and needs to be considered alongside the following

  • The Bounce Rate – A hard or soft bounce counting the number of email addresses not recognised or not accepting mail at the moment respectively.
  • The Click Through Rate – Those customers that having opened your mail are sufficiently interested to click through onto your site. This is what we are really after.
  • The Unsubscribe Rate – A cause for alarm as customers are saying stop bothering me.

So by way of disclosure and please don’t judge if this is good or bad… The last Email newsletter from JLC had an open rate of 55% and a bounce rate of 1%. You might like to subscribe to it here – (only one per month!)

I hope you’ve found this short introduction useful.  Let me know if you want to learn more, or to dig deeper into the world of Email marketing.

Thanks for reading

PS I write these guides with the busy business leader in mind – those who knows this stuff is important, but don’t have the time to learn all of the details of the marketing team. I hope that they are not patronising and serve to help you focus on the important measures – that you should be presented with and be confident that your team understands.