Email Deliverability

Email open rate handbook - Get your emails opened

July 8, 2024
7 min.

The first step to outreach success is getting your emails opened.

You could have written the best outreach campaign of all time, but it’s worthless if nobody sees it.

In other words: open rate is (still) one of the most important email deliverability metrics.

Let’s dive into the world of email open rates and discuss:

  • ➡️ What email open rate is
  • ➡️ Why it matters
  • ➡️ What a good open rate is
  • ➡️ And how to improve it

What are email open rates? 🤷‍♀️

The email open rate is the percentage of opens you get for an email.

Ideally, it’s calculated with unique opens since a single recipient can open an email multiple times.

The open rate tells you whether your emails are actually getting through to your leads.

Email-sending tools usually calculate your open rate for you, but the math is simple:

You just divide the number of (unique) opens by the number of emails sent.

👉 If you want a more detailed explanation of open rates, check out our post on what an email open rate is and how to calculate it.

Do open rates matter?

Not all open rates are accurate.

Recent changes made by large email service providers like Google and Apple have made tracking opens harder.

For example, Apple Mail's Mail Privacy Protection allows users to turn off open tracking.

Since all of an email’s content is preloaded, including the tracking pixel, all emails sent to Apple Mail accounts with this feature enabled will register as opens—even when no one ever opens the email.

Needless to say, this will skew the open rate data.

Still, if you send to a large data set and send to many leads, things will even out and you should be OK.

Besides, open rates provide the foundation upon which conversation rates are calculated.

In other words, it’s an important stat and it’s too early to dump it because of slight inaccuracies.

👉 Here’s more information on how important open rates are.

Target open rate: What to aim for 🎯

The average open rate for cold email is unclear.

Different numbers can be found on different websites.

Some claim 25% is good (nah!), while others boast open rates of 60% or more.

It all depends is the most sensical and most annoying answer at the same time.

We think that anything above 50% is acceptable, but with the right strategy, you should be able to go higher than that.

👉 Further reading: What is a good open rate?

How to boost your open rate 🚀

Having a low open rate is not the end of the world.

You can take steps to improve it so more people read your emails.

For example:

  • ➡️ Take care of your sender reputation: Your reputation is non-existent for a new domain, and you have to slowly build it up using a warm-up service like lemwarm.
  • ➡️ Your technical setup: Email authentication protocols can add a layer of security to your emails. Subsequently, Internet Service Providers will love this and will give your emails better inbox placement.
  • ➡️ List hygiene: Send only to verified emails and weed out bad leads from your list (i.e., bounces and unopens).
👉 Further reading:  How to improve your email open rate - 5 factors to consider

Email open rate FAQ

What's the difference between unique opens and total opens?

Unique opens is the much more reliable stat. Total opens are all opens for an email, including multiple opens from the same person. Your email-sending tool should use unique opens as the main stat for open tracking.

Should I be concerned if my email open rates are low?

You should be concerned in the sense that you’re not getting a good ROI for your outreach efforts. However, with a smart strategy, you should be able to increase your open rate fairly soon. Please refer to the “How to boost your open rate” section for more details on how to improve your open rate.

How can I track and measure email open rates effectively?

Fortunately, you don’t have to do this manually. Most email-sending tools keep track of your open rates for you. As mentioned above, sometimes open rates are inaccurate, but they should still give you a good indication of how well people are opening your emails.

What other metrics should I consider apart from email open rates?

Reply rate (how engaging are your emails?), click-through rate (if your emails contain links), conversion rate (are your emails converting into meetings booked and/or sales), bounce rate (bounces can hurt your deliverability), and spam complaint rate (the lower, the better - try to keep it under 0.3%)


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