User – Email Open Rate

What is an email open rate?

Open rate is a measure of how many people on an email list open (or view) a particular email campaign. It is most commonly expressed as a percentage and calculated by dividing the number of email messages opened by the total number of email messages sent minus bounced emails.

How does MDC DOT measure an open?

When each email is sent out, we automatically add a piece of code that requests a tiny, invisible image from our web servers. So when a reader opens the email, the image is downloaded, and we can record that download as an open for that specific email.

It is important to understand that the open rate is not a 100% accurate measure. Recording an ‘open’ can only happen if the reader’s email client is capable of displaying HTML with images, and that option is turned on. So if you are sending text-only emails, there is no way to record open rates. Similarly, people reading your HTML email without images showing will not be recorded as opens.

The only exception is that we do record an open for people who clicked a link in your campaign, even if they didn’t download images since we obviously know they read at least some of your email.

Another issue is that your readers may have a preview pane in their email client. That preview pane might be displaying your email automatically (and therefore downloading the images) without the reader ever having to click on it or read it.

So you should never take your open rate as a hard and fast number, because you can never know the true figure. It is much better used as general guide, and as a way of measuring the trends on your email campaigns.

How can I increase my open rate?

There are a ton of elements you can vary to try to entice more of your subscribers to open up your emails. Here are just a few things you could try:

  • Experiment with your subject lines: Try including details about the content of the email right in the subject line, instead of using your standard subject.
  • Send on a different day: Are your subscribers too busy on a Wednesday morning to read your email, leaving it languishing down the inbox? Maybe a Tuesday afternoon email would be welcomed.
  • Get the important content up the top: Remember that many people will see a preview of your email before deciding to open it or ignore it. Make sure your email is recognizable, and that your key points are in the top third.