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What is a good open rate for email: A detailed guide for 2024

Reading Time: 8 minutes

There’s a myth that emails aren’t effective because the open rate is less than 100%.

The reality is that a good open rate for email is anywhere between 15 to 28%, and this is enough to engage your audience, make sales, and grow your business.

If you’re looking for answers to maintain a good email open rate or wondering if you could surpass the average, you’re at the right place.

This guide will answer everything there is to achieve a good email open rate, including the factors that affect it and how to calculate it.

Let’s dig in. 

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What is email open rate?

The email open rate is a key email marketing metric that indicates the percentage of recipients who open an email out of the total number it was sent to.

For example, an email open rate of 35% means 35 out of 100 subscribers opened your email. 

Although email open rates alone cannot indicate email marketing success, understanding this metric is crucial for business owners and marketers for the following reasons:

  • Open rates indicate which email format performs the best with your subscribers. 
  • A low email open rate could affect email sender reputation and eventually impact deliverability.
  • Open rates are precursors for other critical email marketing metrics like click-through and conversion rates. 
  • Tracking and measuring open rates is integral to A/B testing.

How to calculate email open rate?

To calculate the email open rate, simply divide the number who opened your email by the total number it was sent to. This is the formula:

Email open rate = (Number of subscribers who opened the email / Total number of recipients) x 100

There are two types of open rates: unique and total. 

Unique open rate indicates the percentage of unique recipients who’ve opened your email once it landed in their inbox.

On the other hand, the total open rate is the sum of all instances where a recipient opened your email—including multiple opens by the same subscriber. 

While open rate sets the ground for email marketing campaign success, it is not the only metric you must measure. Response, bounce, conversion, unsubscribe, and click-through rates are other email marketing metrics used in measuring campaign success. 

Industry benchmarks for email open rates

Among Omnisend merchants in the first half of 2023, the average open rates was 24.38% during the first half of 2023.

Omnisend email open rates

However, average email open rates vary from industry to industry. For example, the beauty and cosmetics industry saw an open rate of 21%, while Travel and Automobiles saw a nearly 30% open rate in H1 2023. The Books and Literature industry had the highest open rate, averaging 34.32%.

email campaigns open rates

Below are a few factors influencing open rate benchmarks:

  • Type of industry: Apparel, B2B/B2C, Cosmetics, Travel, Books, Food, etc., may have varying user engagement levels. 
  • Target audience: Different audience groups may have different email checking preferences. Also, the level of email personalization based on user preferences can influence open rates.
  • Email type: Promotional, announcements, educational, welcome, transactional, and feedback are common email types with varying open rates. For example, transactional emails (order/shipping confirmations) have a higher open rate than promotional emails: 
Open rates by email type

Factors affecting email open rates

Let’s take a close look at factors affecting email open rates.

1. Subject lines 

The email subject line is the first thing that pops up on your recipient’s screens. So clickbaity, irrelevant, vague, or just weak subject lines have lower chances of getting opened.

Additionally, subject line lengths can affect email visibility. Say your recipients are mobile users—the subject line will be cut off earlier than it would on a desktop computer. As a result, potentially crucial information like discounts or sale alerts may get hidden—negatively affecting open rates. 

A few other subject line aspects you must consider while crafting emails are:

  • Use of personalization: Personalizing your email subject lines with the recipient’s first name, including a personalized offer or similar elements that are contextual to their journey with your brand, can lead to higher open rates and engagement. For example, you could add the recipient’s first name, include a personalized offer, and combine adding first names with FOMO – “Hey [first_name], 30% off your next purchase before midnight.”
  • Tone and clarity: Your subject line can influence whether you land in the spam folder. Have a friendly and casual tone, and be clear with fewer but relevant words e.g. “Last 5 hours…”
  • A/B test subject lines: Not all subject lines lead to great open rates, no matter how meticulously you plan them. So to avoid wasted efforts, perform A/B testing on a small bunch of email subject lines to analyze how your recipients respond and engage with them.

If you need some help with your subject lines, try Omnisend’s free subject line tester.

2. Sender reputation 

Sending an email doesn’t guarantee that it’ll reach your recipients. To combat spam, Internet service providers (ISPs) monitor multiple factors, including the engagement on your emails, to give you a sender reputation score.

It’s especially important for new accounts to spend some time on sender reputation warming, where you gradually send batches of emails to prove your trust to ISPs. 

ISPs assign a sender reputation score to every brand sending emails. So, the higher the score, the greater the likelihood of them delivering your emails to the desired recipients. To maintain a high score, perform regular list cleaning by deleting inactive, fraudulent subscribers and tracking user engagement. 

Likewise, a high spam rate can lower your sender reputation score. You can tackle this by only sending relevant emails and keeping your list clean.

3. Email list quality 

Your email list quality correlates to your potential email open rate. 

How?

Sending emails to inactive or uninterested subscribers is like shooting arrows into the dark. Your chances of engaging them are slim. 

Here’s how to maintain email list quality for the best open rate:

  • Subscriber segmentation: Segmenting lists can help you deliver relevant messages to the right user group. For example, dividing subscribers based on their website interactions (adding products to the cart, browsing a specific section, etc.) lets you tailor offers and increase the chance of conversion.  
  • List hygiene: Subscribers are ever-evolving. So if you’re reusing your email list created at the beginning of your marketing strategy, it’s time to rethink your process. Regularly delete inactive, unengaged subscribers to ensure higher open rates and email marketing ROI.
  • Acquiring subscribers: Start from square one. Change your subscriber acquisition methods to collect high-intent contacts. For example, use double opt-ins to reconfirm subscriptions. 

4. Timing and frequency 

Sending emails by understanding the optimal time when your subscribers are most active can boost email open rates. 

The best times to send an email for higher open rates? 

  • Tuesdays have the highest open rates, while Fridays are for higher conversions
  • The beginning of the month has shown the highest open and conversion rates
  • The best times to email are 8 PM, 2 PM, and 5 PM.

However, days and times can vary by industry or audience. For example, B2B audiences are most active during business hours before 6 PM, and ecommerce customers are most active during weekends or after business hours. You can use these as a starting point, but then you need to experiment to see what your audience responds to.

And coming to email frequency, maintaining a balance is crucial to gain higher open rates. 

Too many or too frequent emails can frustrate your recipients, and inconsistency can cause a drop in engagement rates. Most marketers believe 1-3 weekly emails are the golden standard to maintain good open rates.

5. Mobile optimization 

Mobile devices and desktops have different ways of rendering emails. For starters, mobiles have smaller screens and support vertical scrolling, while desktops have all kinds of scrolling with a wider canvas. 

Medium-length subject lines that work well on desktop browsers may get cut off on mobile devices—hampering open rates. 

So here’s what you can do for better mobile optimization:

  • Create responsive email design: Optimize images, cut short lengthy content, and use suitable font sizes for better readability.
  • Use preheader texts: A preheader offers a quick overview of the email’s body and is placed next to the subject line in an inbox. For mobiles, 30 to 55 characters are optimal. Make the most of it by adding catchy, relevant, and clear text.
  • Use a clear CTA: A/B test your CTAs to find the best-performing copy, placement, and designs for mobile devices separately. 

6. Technical factors 

SPF, DKIM, and DMARC are called the golden trio for IP reputation and authentication. Not staying compliant with any of these protocols would significantly impact your open rates, no matter how good your email content is. 

As you grow, learn the technicalities behind triggered spam filters. 

How Omnisend can help improve your email open rate

Omnisend is a complete email marketing solution tailored for ecommerce businesses. It offers multiple tools that can help you improve your email open rates, such as email list cleaning, automation, email warm-up, and audience segmentation. 

Here’s a breakdown of Omnisend’s robust tools that improve and maintain email open rates:

  • Easy-to-use drag-and-drop Email Builder: Well-designed emails can improve open rates. Omnisend’s Email Builder makes email campaign creation seamless using optimized templates and auto-branding your emails based on your website. 
  • Targeted campaigns: Build and run personalized email campaigns on auto-pilot to ensure timely and relevant communication reaches the right people at the perfect time. For example, you could send cart abandonment emails within 90 minutes of the user’s abandonment session. 
  • Precise segmentation: Omnisend analyzes your customers’ profile data to set up dynamic segments based on their engagement levels, purchase history, transactional events, and so on. Doing so is key to delivering emails that each user group can resonate with and want to open and click through. 
  • Split test emails: What’s the best email combination to fetch the highest open rate? A/B testing is the only way to know. Omnisend lets you split-test multiple email marketing campaigns to find the best-performing one. For example, testing various subject lines, CTAs, content lengths, timings, and frequency.
  • Powerful analytics: Omnisend’s analytical tools help you keep track of email open rates and other key email deliverability metrics. Access detailed campaign performance reports for a bird’s-eye-view of email metrics and use them to make smarter improvements to upcoming email marketing efforts.  

The bigger picture: Beyond email open rates

As mentioned previously, email open rates do not paint a complete picture of campaign success. High open rates do not always mean greater returns. 

Although open rate sets the stage for tracking content relevance, there are other critical email marketing metrics every ecommerce business must track, including engagement metrics like conversion, click-through, unsubscribe, and cart abandonment rates. Also, transactional metrics include the average order value, revenue generated per email, and the overall email campaign ROI. 

So does this mean you can overlook email open rates? The short answer is no!

Opening an email is the very first subscriber action, followed by email click-through and conversion. So it’s safe to say the open rate is the primary building block of measuring and optimizing email marketing success. 

Conclusion 

A good email open rate alone may not always indicate the true success of your email marketing efforts. However, viewing open rate as a basic component of a larger email marketing strategy is ideal. 

Understand what factors influence email open rates so you can start working on improving other critical email marketing metrics. 

And remember, email marketing is a non-stop journey. Just like subscribers, your email campaigns must evolve to suit their best interests.

Get started with Omnisend today & drive sales on autopilot with pre-built automation workflows

FAQs

1. Is a 50% open rate good for email?

Yes. A 50% email open rate is considered a good email open rate and is far beyond the average of 21%.

2. What is a good email open rate 2024?

An email open rate for most industries can be anywhere between 15 to 25%. The average is around 21.33%. If your email open rate crosses this average, it’s a sign that your emails are performing well.

3. How can I improve my email subject lines?

Email subject lines can make or break your email open rates. To improve your email subject lines, try cutting the length, personalizing it, eliminating spammy words, creating urgency, and testing multiple subject lines to pick the best-performing one. Try Omnisend’s free subject line tester to see how you can make improvements.

4. What is a good open rate for a newsletter?

A good email open rate for newsletters is anything over 22.86%.

Bernard Meyer
Article by
Bernard Meyer

Bernard is the Sr. Director of Communications & Creative at Omnisend, with a passion for good research, helping ecommerce businesses with their marketing automation needs, and beating absolutely everyone in Mario Kart 64.


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