How Your Email Open Rate is Calculated


Email marketing platforms calculate the email open rate using a tracking pixel or a tracking code embedded in the email. When an email is sent, the email marketing platform inserts a small, transparent tracking pixel or code into the email content. When a recipient opens the email, and their email client or device allows image loading, it triggers a request to the server hosting the tracking pixel or code. The server logs this request as an “open” and associates it with the specific email recipient.


Suppose the same recipient opens the email multiple times. In that case, the email marketing platform typically counts only the first open as a unique open. Subsequent opens by the same recipient are not counted as unique opens. The email marketing platform calculates the open rate by dividing the unique opens by the number of delivered emails (excluding bounced emails or emails that failed to reach the recipient’s inbox). The result is usually expressed as a percentage.


Even though a computer calculates your email open rate, this number is not always 100% accurate. Some recipients may have images disabled by default in their email clients, which prevents the tracking pixel from loading and registering as open. Some email clients or security measures may also block tracking pixels or code, leading to underreported open rates. Despite these limitations, the email open rate remains a valuable metric for analyzing email engagement and making informed decisions about your email marketing campaigns.


Why is Your Email Open Rate Important?


The email open rate is an essential metric in email marketing as it provides insights into how well your email campaigns perform and how engaged your audience is with your content. The open rate indicates how many recipients opened your email and viewed its content, also known as your email engagement. Your email open rate gives you a sense of your subscribers’ engagement and whether your subject lines and sender name are compelling enough to grab their attention. 


The open rate helps gauge the effectiveness of your email campaigns. If your open rate is low, it suggests that your email might not reach your subscribers’ inboxes effectively or that your subject lines are not enticing enough to encourage opens. It allows you to evaluate the success of your campaign and make improvements to enhance performance.


A high open rate indicates that your email content is perceived as valuable and relevant by your subscribers. The definition of a high open rate can vary depending on the industry, the type of email campaign, and the specific goals of your email marketing efforts. However, as a general guideline, an open rate of 20% or higher is often considered good. An open rate of 30% or higher is generally considered excellent. If you have a high open rate, this signifies you have successfully captured your audience’s interest and that they anticipate receiving your emails. It indicates that you deliver content that resonates with your audience’s needs and preferences.


Tracking open rates and comparing them to industry benchmarks or your past performance allows you to assess your email marketing efforts. It helps you understand how well you perform relative to others in your industry and identify areas for improvement.

how to get higher open rates for your email

9 Ways to Increase Your Email Marketing Open Rate

Here are the most utilized processes to increase the open rate of your emails. Comb through this list and choose the action steps that are easiest for you to take on first. Then, choose another action step to increase the open rate of your email. Over time, if you use these steps consistently, you should be able to see your email open rate numbers climb to the top!


  1. Craft compelling subject lines: Create subject lines that are concise, intriguing, and relevant to the content of your email. Personalization, urgency, curiosity, and value propositions can all be effective techniques to encourage recipients to open your emails.
  2. Segment your email list: Segment your email list based on relevant criteria such as demographics, interests, past purchases, or engagement levels. You can increase relevance and engagement by sending targeted, personalized emails to specific segments, leading to higher open rates.
  3. Optimize for mobile devices: Ensure your emails are mobile-friendly and optimized for viewing on smartphones and tablets. Many email opens occur on mobile devices, so an optimized mobile experience can positively impact open rates.
  4. Test and experiment: A/B tests different elements of your emails, including subject lines, sender names, preheaders, and even email content. Experiment with different approaches to see what resonates best with your audience and drives higher open rates.
  5. Educate your readers with content: one of the biggest mistakes small business owners can make is to sell in every email. While selling your products or services via email isn’t a bad idea, you don’t want selling to be the main focus of your email campaign. Educating your readers on your expertise, giving them new ways to use your products or services, or sharing resources with them is an excellent way to increase your email open rate and develop that relationship touchpoint through email marketing.
  6. Personalize your emails: Tailor your emails to the individual recipient as much as possible. Personalization can go beyond simply using their name; consider using dynamic content based on past purchases or browsing behavior to make the email more relevant and engaging.
  7. Send at optimal times: Experiment with different send times and analyze your email analytics to determine when your audience will most likely open and engage with your emails. Test sending emails on different days and at various times to find the optimal timing for your audience.
  8. Use engaging preview text: Utilize the preheader or preview text to provide additional context or a sneak peek of what’s inside the email. This text is often displayed alongside the subject line in email clients and can influence open rates.
  9. Continuously refine your email content: Deliver valuable and relevant content to your subscribers. Provide information, offers, or exclusive content that they find valuable and interesting. You can build trust and keep subscribers engaged by consistently delivering high-quality content, leading to higher open rates.


Remember that improving your email open rates is an iterative process. Continuously monitor your email performance, analyze the results, and refine your strategies based on the insights gained. Experimentation, testing, and ongoing optimization are crucial for higher email open rates.


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