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Understanding and improving email open and click-through rates

Email open rates can vary depending on many factors. The average open rate for all email marketing campaigns worldwide is 20% to 30%. It's important to interpret open rates correctly. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Open rates rise over time. This is because not everyone checks or opens their email right away.
  • It is possible for someone to open your email without it ever showing up in your campaign report. Email clients that have image loading turned off will not report the hit back to our servers. As such, the "actual" open rate may be higher than the open rate reported in Direct Mail.
  • If your campaign report indicates that a recipient did not open your email, it is still possible that they did, in fact open it. See the above bullet point for the reason why.
  • If your campaign report indicates that a recipient did not open your email, it does not mean that the email went to their spam folder or was undelivered, nor does it mean that you should send it to them again. It is most likely that the recipient received the email but has not opened it (yet).

Improving Open Rates

Some email campaigns can see open rates over 50%. Here are some suggestions for how you can improve your open rates:

Remove Inactive Subscribers

Consider removing (or unsubscribing) people from your list who have gone inactive. Inactive (or "unengaged") means that perhaps they have not opened an email from you in over a year or two. Your list may be smaller, but you'll be reaching the people who really are interested. There are a variety of ways you can identify your active and inactive subscribers in Direct Mail:

  • You can use the Addresses > Show Columns > Number of Emails Opened menu item
  • You can select a recipient in the Addresses tab and click Get Info in the toolbar
  • You can use the Find Addresses feature

Consider Campaign Frequency

Consider the frequency with which you send email newsletters. Each mailing list is different, but you may find that sending to your mailing list too frequently (e.g. multiple times a week) is resulting in "list fatigue". Most lists actually see engagement go down as the frequency of their campaigns goes up. You may get better results if you reduce the number of times you send per month.

Consider Content Length

Consider the length of your emails. Most people devote only a few seconds to skimming each email. You might find better results with shorter emails that have noticeable, impactful headlines and short, catchy subject lines.

Be Mobile-Friendly

Consider a mobile-friendly template. You may want to try using a template in Direct Mail that is more readable on small screens. All of the templates that come built-in to Direct Mail are mobile-friendly (except for some templates listed in the "Legacy" section).

Pick a Good Time to Send

Weekdays are always better than weekends. Beyond that, however, time of day does not seem to have much impact on open rates.

Improve Your Calls to Action

Check out this help article on how you can improve the calls to action that you might have in your email.

Protect Your Email Reputation

The last thing you want is for your email to be routed to the spam folder. By following best practices, you can safeguard your email reputation and help make sure your emails land in the inbox. Learn more about email reputation.

Strategies to Avoid

Here are some strategies that are not effective in improving open rates:

  • Breaking your email campaign up into smaller batches (i.e. sending to three groups of 100 instead of 1 group of 300)
  • Sending via your own email server instead of e3 Delivery Service or a dedicated server
  • Sending the same message over and over again

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