What is a good open rate for e-mail marketing?

MailerMailer released their 10th study about 6 months ago on e-mail open rates and some of the findings are worth thinking about.

As you can see in the chart below, the average unique open rate is dropping.  Image blocking, the increased use of mobile devices for e-mail and list fatigue were listed as key reasons for the drop.


Screen shot 2011-01-11 at 12.00.02 PM


One of the more ponder worthy facts was that the day with the highest open and click rates is Sunday. (with Tuesday in 2nd) I found myself wondering if that's the day business people clean out their inbox to get ready for the week.

When they looked at open rates by industry, no surprise — medical was at the bottom of the barrel at 7.3%.  Sadly for me and my brethren — marketing was right there with the magic pills at 7.4%.  Ag had the highest at 25.3%.

E-mails with shorter subject lines were opened 52% more than the long-winded versions.

So…how might you tweak your e-mail strategy to take advantage of these results?  Here's what we're going to do with our weekly e-newsletter:

  • Stick with Tuesday deliveries
  • Shorten the subject lines
  • Keep sharing value and not being self promotional
  • Maybe mention a tractor or crop now and then! (not really!)

How about you?


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12 comments on “What is a good open rate for e-mail marketing?

  1. Drew,
    I have to say that for our direct email pieces we are seeing over 30% sometimes higher. That does not include the elusive 30% or so that do not or cannot report. I just factor that in as having the same rate and the 70% that can or does report. I don’t know if more systems are in place that inhibit reporting, I am using an old number I learned 10 years ago.

    Thanks for sharing,

  2. Roger —

    That must feel good. I would guess that it’s partially because your mailings are so specific that your list is cleaner — wouldn’t you?

    Not to mention your marketing brilliance, of course…


  3. If I was so brilliant…well you know. Thanks for the compliment just the same.

  4. Not too surprised about Sunday. I tend to take emails on my phone all week, then go through and read them properly at weekend.

  5. Thanks for posting these latest statistics. I am surprised with Sunday being the highest open rate. Mid-week is traditionally what I will recommend to clients for email sends (Tuesday or Wednesday).

    Another note of caution for anyone looking at average open/click through rates or those of competitors – a big factor is the quality of your list. If you have a poor quality list, your rates will be much lower. If you have a 100% opt-in list of active engaged customers, this rate can be much higher!


  6. Penny Gray says:

    Thanks for the post, Drew. We are averaging 30% open, using this channel for more communication than advertising. I find the Ag related information very interesting.


  7. Great information. Do you have any information about “time of day?”

  8. Richard

    I have typically seen the best rates with mid-morning sends. I would stay away from early morning (people are busy cleaning out their inbox from the overnight “junk”) and late afternoon (people are just trying to get out of the office). Be mindful of the timezone differences and where the bulk of your customers are located.


  9. Penny,

    Sounds like you have a receptive audience and your content is strong — congrats! I thought the ag number was interesting as well. I wouldn’t have guessed that industry would be big on e-newsletters and the like.


  10. Richard —

    Sorry, I looked through the entire study and didn’t see anything about time of day. But it looks like Justin (thanks Justin!) added some info for you.

    His expert answer aligns with what we experience at MMG as well.


  11. Kendra says:

    Do you find those numbers to still ring pretty true? Or do you think that number has gone down because it isn’t entirely accurate because of auto-open?

    1. Hey Kendra,

      As you know, there are many factors that influence open rates, but yes, in general I think these are still pretty accurate. But keep in mind, these numbers take into account the emails that get 60+% or better opens and the ones that get .05%.

      The one thing I think these kinds of studies forget is that many people can view their emails (using the window pane settings) without ever opening them. It’s a good reason to add some links to encourage them to open it all the way.

      The email auto open might balance out the window pane readers too. It’s not a precise number for sure. But, at least we have a ball park to shoot for or exceed!


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