Average Email Open Rates - ScopeLeads
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Average Email Open Rates

In any email campaign that you’re running, the most important metrics to keep track of are your email open rate and click-through rate.

In this blog post, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about your email open rate, including:

  • How to calculate your email open rate
  • What’s the average email open rate across all sectors
  • Why is email open rate so important
  • What affects your email open rate
  • How to improve your email rate
  • BONUS: How to find prospects to cold email

Read on to find out more!

How to calculate your average email open rate

Your average email open rate is basically the percentage of subscribers who open your email, out of all the subscribers who have received said email.

Most email platforms will calculate your email open rate and display it within your dashboard, but if you want to calculate this number manually, you can do so using this formula:

Average email open rate: What is a good email open rate?

Here’s a question that we get a lot… what is a good open rate for email marketing?

Well, according to data from 200 million emails sent via Constant Contact, the average open rate across all industries is 16.74%.

On the other hand, after analyzing open rate data from 25 million emails across 28 industries, HubSpot pegs the average email open rate as 32%.

In determining what is a good open rate for an email, though, you SHOULDN’T just look at the average across all industries. Instead, it makes more sense to look specifically at the sector you’re in, and benchmark your open rates against that of your competitors.

Here’s a snapshot of a Constant Contact chart that shows the breakdown of average email open rates across all industries:

According to the data, the industries with the best open rates are:

  • Education
  • Child Care Services
  • Civic / Social Membership

And the industries with the lowest open rates are:

  • Technology
  • Fitness / Nutritional
  • Salon / Spa / Barber

Why is email open rate so important?

Simply put, your email open rate is the “gatekeeper” to your email marketing campaigns.

Think of it this way: if your email open rate is low, it doesn’t matter how well-crafted your email copy is, or how fantastic your offer is. Because your subscribers aren’t looking at your emails, you won’t get many responses or conversions.

So, instead of trying to optimize all the different elements of your email marketing campaigns at once, focus on your email open rates first.

Once you get those right, then move on to improving on your other elements.

What affects your email open rate?

Most folks think that your email open rate is determined by one factor, and one factor only — your subject line.

However, that’s not really the case. In this section, we walk you through all the different factors that play a role in influencing your email open rate.

Subject line

Email subject lines can make or break an entire campaign — they’re that important.

Here are a few tips to help you write better email subject lines:

  • Keep your subject lines short and sweet. 77% of people access their emails on their mobile devices, so try and stick to subject lines that are 50 characters or less to avoid having your subject line cut off.
  • Address the reader directly. Use second-person pronouns such as  “you” to engage your ready, and increase the chances of them opening your email.
  • Personalize your subject line. Build rapport and get more subscribers to click on your email by personalizing your subject line.
  • Create a sense of urgency. Flag out limited offer deals with copy such as “24H only” to generate excitement and get subscribers to click.
  • Evoke curiosity. Intrigue your subscribers by asking a question in your subject line.
  • Use the power of social proof. Talk about how hundreds of people have already signed up for your event / bought your product / tried your service.
  • Use emojis. If your brand personality is young and fun, using emojis in your subject lines is a great way to convey that, and helps you stand out as well.

Need some inspiration? Here are some easy subject line formulas that you can use to craft the perfect subject line…

1. How to ____ even if you ____

This subject line works best when you’re addressing a specific pain point of your customer.

For instance, say you’re selling a weight loss program online. Here are some email subject lines you might use:

  • How to lose weight sustainably, even if you hate exercising
  • How to lose weight (and keep it off), even if you can’t stop eating
  • How to lose weight for good, even if you’ve got 0 willpower

2. {Question about pain point}. It doesn’t have to be this way.

With this subject line, you’re honing in on your subscriber’s pain point, and providing a solution or workaround for them.

Let’s use the same example that we did previously — say you’re selling a weight loss program. Some email subject lines you could use include:

  • Sick and tired of having to count your calories religiously? It doesn’t have to be this way.  
  • Sick and tired of hiding behind baggy clothing? It doesn’t have to be this way.

3. This time next year, you’ll be ____

With this subject line, you’re painting a picture of what your product/service can help your subscriber achieve, and getting them excited about the future.

For instance, say you’re selling a course targeting folks who want to learn how to run their own business. Here are some email subject lines you might use:

  • This time next year, you’ll be a digital nomad.
  • This time next year, you’ll no longer be a corporate slave.
  • This time next year, you’ll be working by the pool in Bali.

4. 9 out of 10 ____ get this wrong…

This subject line is particularly powerful, because you’re intriguing your subscribers, and getting them to wonder what exactly it is that people get wrong.

Here, you’ll want to specifically mention a subset, group or category of people that your subscribers identify with.

For instance, if you’re running an SEO agency that caters to small business owners, you might say: 9 out of 10 founders and business owners get this wrong

If you’re running an eCommerce store that targets fishing enthusiasts, then say: 9 out of 10 people who fish get this wrong…

Other variants of this subject title include:

  • Here’s the #1 common mistake that ____ make.
  • Here’s a rookie mistake that many ____ make.
  • As a ____, you shouldn’t be making this mistake…

5. The one thing ____ don’t realize about ____.

Finally, this last subject line plays into your subscribers’ FOMO (fear of missing out), and entices them to click on your email.

Again, personalize the email subject line with a specific group or category that your subscribers identify with, and reference a topic that’s relevant to them.

If you’re running an SEO agency for small business owners, a potential email subject line would be: The one thing that business owners don’t realize about SEO.

Other variants of this subject line include:

  • What ____ don’t realize about ____ .
  • What ____ don’t realize about ____ (+ how it’s costing them).
  • What ____ just don’t get about ____.
  • The most important thing to know about ____. (Most ____ get this wrong).

Sender name

Email subject line aside, sender name and email address also influences your average email open rate.

With your email address, you can choose from:

And with your sender name, you can choose from:

  • Company name (Company)
  • Personal name (Melissa)
  • Combination of company + personal name (Melissa from Company)

Generally speaking, we’d say that going for a combination (company + personal name) works best. Because you’ve got a personal name thrown in there, you’re humanizing your brand, and increasing your engagement rate.

You could also use a personal name (“Melissa” or “Melissa Jackfields”), but this might confuse your subscriber, and they might choose to err on the side of caution and not click on an email from someone that they don’t recognize.

Email frequency

How does email frequency affect your average email open rate?

Well, the more frequently you email your subscribers, the lower your average email open rate tends to be.

Unless your emails are hyper-targeted to your subscribers, and every single email resonates with them and delights them, your subscribers will probably get tired of hearing from you so often. When this happens, they’ll stop opening your emails — simple as that.

Now, the tricky part is figuring out what’s considered “too often”.

For some subscribers, getting three emails per week from a brand or company is perfectly fine. For other subscribers, even ONE email per week might be pushing the limit.

So, there are two things you can do here:

  • Communicate how often you’ll email your subscribers when they sign up, OR
  • Ask them how frequently they want to hear from you

For instance, cooking site Bonappetit makes it clear that subscribers who sign up to their mailing list get new recipes delivered to their inbox everyday:

And Frys.com allows subscribers to choose their preferred frequency:

Day and time of sending

Next, the day and time that you send your emails also impacts your average email open rate.

Basically, you want to send your email at a time when your subscribers are likely to be awake and checking their email inboxes.

If you send out an email when they’re fast asleep, this might get buried in their other emails, and they might not see it when they do check their inbox the next day.

Now, many email marketing platforms have published research and statistics on when’s the best day (and time) to send emails, but these statistics are pretty conflicting.

For instance, MailChimp says that it’s best to send emails on a weekday at 10am.

Then there’s Customer.io, which says that it’s best to send emails on a Saturday, in the afternoon or evening.

Next, WordStream says that sending emails on Thursdays at 8 to 9am works the best for them.

And HubSpot says that the best time to send emails is on a Tuesday at 11am.

Now, while it’s interesting to read the data collated by these platforms, remember to take them with a pinch of salt. Think of it this way… you’re marketing to a completely different group of people, and you’ll have to figure out what works for them.

The easiest way to do this is to use an email marketing platform that comes with an optimized send time feature.

For instance, Sendlane’s Optimized Timing helps you track your subscribers’ habits, and automatically deliver emails when your subscribers are most likely to open them.

If the email marketing platform that you’re doing doesn’t have this feature, then you’ll have to A/B test different send days and times, and look at the results from there.

HTML content

We’re all familiar with that adage that says, a picture is worth a thousand words.

In trying to make their emails more aesthetically appealing, companies are now increasingly sending out emails that are entirely composed out of images:

But what these companies don’t realize is that doing this could actually backfire on you, and hurt your average email open rate.

Here’s the thing: when your entire email is composed of a single image (or multiple images, but no text), this makes your HTML to text ratio crazy high. When this happens, your email might be caught by spam filters, and they could either end up in the “Promotions” tab (for Gmail users) or in the “Spam” inbox.

Obviously, if your email lands in “Promotions” or “Spam”, fewer subscribers will see it, and your average email open rate will drop significantly.

Bearing this in mind, make sure you balance out your HTML to text ratio, and stop overloading your email with images!

Salesy/promotional copy

HTML aside, using salesy or promotional copy in your email title and body also increases the chances that your email will get filtered to the “Promotions” or “Spam” inbox.

Here are some spam “trigger” words that you should avoid using.

Recap: How to improve your email open rate

We’ve shared a couple of tips on how to improve your average email open rate in the section above, but we’ll go ahead and collate all the tips here for your easy reference:

  • Craft better email subject lines
    • Write subject lines that are 50 characters or less
    • Address the reader directly
    • Personalize your subject line
    • Create a sense of urgency (“24H only”)
    • Ask a question to evoke curiosity
    • Use the power of social proof
    • Use emojis
  • A/B test your sender name + email address
  • Refrain from sending emails too frequently
    • Communicate your sending frequency upfront
    • Allow subscribers to choose their preferred sending frequency
  • Optimize your day and time of sending
  • Reduce HTML content, and maintain a good HTML:text ratio
  • Refrain from using salesy and promotional copy

That should be plenty to keep you busy with… go ahead and knock yourself out!

BONUS: How to find prospects to cold email

Many marketers and business owners struggle with generating prospects and leads. If you’re in the same boat, an easy way to find prospects to cold email is to use a lead generation tool such as Scope Leads.

Simply put, Scope Leads is a platform that helps marketers and business owners find leads and reach out to them with personalized, effective emails.

With Scope Leads, you can:

  • Run searches to find local B2B leads (you’ll get all their data, including their email address)
  • Send completely personalized single or batch cold emails to these leads from your Gmail or SMTP server, and
  • Automate your sales prospecting and track your progress with an intuitive, easy-to-use dashboard.

Want to use Scope Leads to supercharge your email marketing campaigns? Sign up now!

Cherie Foo

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