KPIs for Marketing

KPIs for Marketing: email open rate

Discover the importance of tracking email open rates as a key performance indicator (KPI) for your marketing campaigns.

When it comes to measuring the success of your email marketing campaigns, email open rate is one of the most important key performance indicators (KPIs) you can track. Email open rate is the percentage of recipients who opened your email out of the total number of emails delivered. In this article, we’ll explore the importance of email open rate as a KPI, factors affecting it, industry benchmarks, how to calculate it, strategies to improve it, and tools to track it.

Understanding Email Open Rate as a KPI

Email marketing is an essential part of any digital marketing strategy. It’s a cost-effective way to reach your target audience and drive conversions. However, the success of your email campaigns depends on several factors, including your email open rate. Email open rate is a critical KPI for email marketers because it indicates how well your emails are performing.

A low open rate may suggest that your subject line is not compelling enough, your email frequency is too high, or your content is not relevant to your subscribers. On the other hand, a high open rate may indicate a strong brand presence, targeted messaging, and optimized send times. Therefore, it’s crucial to understand the importance of email open rate in marketing and how it can impact your overall email campaign success.

Importance of Email Open Rate in Marketing

Email open rate is important for several reasons. First, it measures the effectiveness of your subject line. A good subject line should be clear, concise, and convey the value of your email. It should pique the interest of your subscribers and encourage them to open your email. If your subject line is weak, it’s unlikely that your subscribers will open your email, no matter how valuable your content is.

Second, email open rate helps you understand your audience’s engagement with your content. If subscribers open your emails frequently, it suggests that they find your content valuable and engaging. This engagement can lead to higher click-through rates and conversions.

Finally, email open rate is an important factor that influences your sender reputation. Your sender reputation is a score assigned by email service providers that measures the quality of your email campaigns. High open rates can improve your sender score, and increase the likelihood of your emails landing in your subscribers’ inbox. On the other hand, low open rates can harm your sender reputation and cause your emails to be marked as spam.

Factors Affecting Email Open Rate

Several factors can impact email open rates, including sender name and email address, subject line, send time, and email list quality. Personalizing your sender name and email address can increase open rates by adding a human touch to your campaigns. Similarly, a well-crafted subject line can make a significant difference in enticing subscribers to open your email. The subject line should be clear, concise, and convey the value of your email.

The time and day of the week you send your emails are equally important. Consider experimenting with different send times to find the optimal time for your audience. For example, if you’re targeting working professionals, sending emails during business hours may not be the best option. Instead, consider sending emails early in the morning or in the evening when they’re more likely to check their inbox.

Finally, email list quality is crucial for email open rates. A high-quality email list consists of subscribers who have opted-in to receive your emails and are interested in your content. Purchasing email lists or adding subscribers without their consent can harm your email open rates and sender reputation.

Industry Benchmarks for Email Open Rate

Email open rates vary by industry and can depend on several factors such as audience demographics, email content, and send time. Generally, a 15-25% open rate is considered average, 25-30% is above average, and above 30% is excellent. However, it’s important to note that every industry is unique, and you should aim to achieve a benchmark that’s relevant to your niche.

For example, the open rate for the healthcare industry is typically lower than the open rate for the media and entertainment industry. This is because healthcare emails are often related to patient care and may not be as engaging as entertainment-related emails. Therefore, it’s essential to benchmark your email open rate against your industry and competitors to determine how well your email campaigns are performing.

How to Calculate Email Open Rate

You can calculate email open rate by dividing the total number of opened emails by the number of emails delivered, then multiplying by 100. For example, if you sent 100 emails, and 20 were opened, your email open rate would be 20%.

However, it's important to note that email open rate is not a perfect metric. It only tells you how many people opened your email, not how many people actually read it or took action as a result of it. Nevertheless, email open rate can still be a useful tool for measuring the effectiveness of your email campaigns.

Components of Email Open Rate Calculation

The two primary components of email open rate calculation are the number of opened emails and the number of emails delivered. Open rates don't take other actions like clicks into account. It's essential to only track emails delivered and not emails sent because some emails may bounce, and you wouldn't want to include those in your calculation.

In addition, it's worth noting that email open rates can vary depending on the industry and audience you're targeting. For example, some industries may have higher open rates than others, and certain demographics may be more likely to open emails than others.

Formula for Calculating Email Open Rate

Email open rate = (total number of opened emails / number of emails delivered) x 100%

It's important to calculate your email open rate regularly to track changes over time. This can help you identify trends and make adjustments to your email campaigns as needed.

Analyzing Email Open Rate Results

Once you’ve calculated your email open rate, it’s critical to analyze your results. High open rates are an excellent indication that your emails are resonating with your audience, while low open rates may signal that something is off. Examine your subject lines, email content, and send times to identify areas for improvement.

For example, if your open rates are consistently low, it may be worth experimenting with different subject lines to see if that makes a difference. Alternatively, you could try sending your emails at different times of the day or week to see if that has an impact on open rates.

Overall, calculating and analyzing email open rates is an important part of any email marketing strategy. By understanding how many people are opening your emails and why, you can make informed decisions about how to improve your campaigns and better engage your audience.

Strategies to Improve Email Open Rate

If your email open rate is below industry benchmarks, don't fret. Several techniques can help you improve it. In this article, we will discuss some practical strategies to increase your email open rate and engage with your subscribers.

Crafting Compelling Subject Lines

Your subject line is the first impression that subscribers have of your email. It should be engaging and provide a clear value proposition. Personalizing subject lines by including the recipient's name can also increase open rates. However, beware of sounding too robotic or automated. One way to make your subject line more compelling is to use action-oriented language. For example, instead of saying "Our Latest Newsletter," try "Don't Miss Out on Our Exclusive Newsletter." This creates a sense of urgency and entices the reader to open the email.

Another way to craft a compelling subject line is to use humor or curiosity. For example, "What Do Elephants and Email Marketing Have in Common?" This type of subject line piques the reader's interest and makes them want to know more.

Personalizing Email Content

The more relevant and personalized your content is, the more likely subscribers are to open and read your emails. Consider segmenting your email list based on audience demographics, behavior, and purchase history to send targeted messages to each group. Personalization can go beyond just using the subscriber's name. You can also tailor the content to their interests and preferences.

For example, if you are a clothing retailer, you can send an email to subscribers who have previously purchased men's clothing with a subject line that reads, "New Arrivals in Men's Fashion." This type of personalization shows that you understand their interests and are providing them with relevant information.

Optimizing Send Times and Frequency

While there's no one-size-fits-all approach, testing different send times and frequencies can help you identify the optimal cadence for your audience. Experiment with sending emails on different days of the week and at different times to find what works best for your subscribers. Consider the time zones of your subscribers and adjust your send times accordingly.

It's also important to find the right balance between sending too many and too few emails. Bombarding your subscribers with too many emails can lead to email fatigue, causing them to unsubscribe or mark your emails as spam. On the other hand, sending too few emails can cause subscribers to forget about your brand. Finding the sweet spot for your audience can take some trial and error, but it's worth the effort.

Segmenting Your Email List

Segmenting your email list based on various criteria such as demographics, behavior, location, or interests can significantly improve email open rates. Segmenting your list allows you to send relevant messages tailored to each group. For example, you can send a different email to subscribers who have previously purchased from your website compared to those who have only signed up for your newsletter.

Another way to segment your email list is by creating a preference center. A preference center allows subscribers to choose the type of content they want to receive and how often they want to receive it. This ensures that subscribers only receive emails that are relevant to them, increasing the likelihood of them opening and engaging with your emails.

In conclusion, improving your email open rate requires a combination of tactics. Crafting compelling subject lines, personalizing email content, optimizing send times and frequency, and segmenting your email list are all strategies that can help you increase your email open rate and engage with your subscribers.

Tools for Tracking Email Open Rate

Several tools can help you track your email open rates, including email marketing platforms, Google Analytics, and third-party tracking tools.

Email Marketing Platforms

Most email marketing platforms offer built-in tracking capabilities, allowing you to track opens, clicks, bounces, and other metrics. Several popular email marketing platforms include Mailchimp, ConstantContact, and HubSpot.

Google Analytics Integration

Google Analytics can be integrated with your email marketing platform to track email open rates. To set up email tracking, ensure that you have enabled Google Analytics tracking on your website, then set up email tracking in your email marketing platform using UTM parameters.

Third-Party Tracking Tools

Several third-party tracking tools like Litmus and Email on Acid offer advanced analytics and email rendering tests, allowing you to track opens, clicks, and subscriber engagement across various devices and email clients.


Email open rate is one of the most critical KPIs in email marketing. Knowing how to measure email open rate, understanding the factors that influence it, and utilizing strategies to improve it can help you optimize your email campaigns and achieve your marketing goals. Remember to test and experiment with different approaches to find what works best for your audience.