Before building an email marketing campaign, it’s vital to define your goals to know if your campaign will be a success.
One of the most important factors to consider is how many people open and click your emails. This is a great indicator of whether your resources and efforts are worth the investment.
The question is: What is a good open and click-through rate for your emails?
You’ll find the answer in this article. Let’s explore right now!
What is an email open rate?
Before diving into the main part, we need to understand the definition of an email open rate. Most people regard the open rate as the number of recipients who open your email.
Sounds logical, right?
Unfortunately, that’s not enough. An email is counted as opened only when one of the following happens:
- The recipient enables images within your email to be displayed in a full view of the email or the preview pane.
- They click a link in your email.
Your email marketing provider should be able to provide you granular information about your own email open rates, right down to email metrics for each subscriber on your list. Email open rates are an excellent way to find the subscribers on your list that aren’t engaged with your content; thus, you can target them with a winback campaign. With this in mind, you can also clean the inactive and disengaged subscribers from your list. In fact, we recommend cleaning your email list at least once per year.
Your email open rate is calculated by taking the number of recipients who open your email and then dividing it by the number of emails sent that didn’t bounce.
Email open rate = Unique opens / (Number of emails sent - bounces)
Let’s say, if you send 100 emails, and 10 of them bounce (i.e., fail to reach the recipient), this leaves you with 90 delivered emails. Of those 90 emails, 10 are opened. So, your email open rate is 11% (10 emails opened from 90 delivered).
Emails that aren’t delivered cannot be opened; that’s why this number is not included in the open rate percentage.
Your email open rate can tell you many things about a specific email or email marketing campaign:
- If your email landed in the inbox and didn’t get caught up in spam filters
- If you targeted the right audience
- If your subject line was attractive and compelling enough to get folks to open your email
- If your preheader text was engaging enough
We may not need to tell you that if no one opens your emails, you are not going to achieve a great return on email marketing investment. That has a ripple effect - if no one opens your emails, they are not clicking through to your landing or product pages, and if they are not doing that, you are not making sales. If you have a low open rate, these are the things you can test.
What is an email click-through rate?
Email click-through rate (CTR), or email click rate, measures how many people clicked on a hyperlink, CTA, or image within your email. According to studies, email click-through rate is the most important metric as 73% of marketers track it to measure the success of their email marketing campaigns.
To calculate the email click-through rate, you take the number of recipients who have clicked on your email and divide that with the number of emails you’ve sent. Then, you can multiply that number by 100 to show a percentage.
Below is a breakdown of the email click-through rate formula:
Email click-through rate (CTR) = (Number of clicks / Number of delivered emails) x 100
For instance, if you send an email marketing campaign to 100 people, and 10 clicks on links within your email, then your email click-through rate would be 10%.
Email click-through rates are vital, especially if you can’t count on opens anymore. Before, many email marketers would focus on the first stage of the conversion funnel - opens. If your open rate is above average, that is good. That’s enough for many. Now, your metric to go is the clicks.
But the ultimate goal of businesses is to sell, so if few people visit your website, that means you are far from the goal. An email click-through rate measures engagement, and it’s food for thought, whether it is good or bad.
If your email click-through rate is good, it means your subscribers find your offer attractive enough to make the first step to purchasing. If it’s bad, it means that your campaigns are not living to their full potential. They can do better, and you can as well!
The point is, even if you generate some sales, it doesn’t mean you are doing ok. If your click-through rate is below the average, it means you have more opportunities to do better and explore your potential.
In short, the more clicks you have, the higher your ROI (Return on Investment) and the more profitable your email marketing campaign, and the more money you get to spend on other business areas.
Analytics can help you improve your marketing. Without it, you’re blind. Without gauging your own performance, all efforts are pointless.
What is a good open/click-through rate for emails?
According to MailChimp, the average email open rate is 21.33%, and the average click-through rate is 2.62% for all industries. MailChimp maintains its own public email marketing benchmarks based on billions of emails. The data provided was last updated in October 2019 and came from email marketing campaigns with over 1,000 sends. In addition to email open and click-through rates, MailChimp also analyzed bounce rates and unsubscribe rates.
You can see the details in the table below.
|Industry||Average open rate||Average click rate|
|All non-labeled accounts||22.71%||2.91%|
|Agriculture and food services||23.31%||2.94%|
|Architecture and construction||22.51%||2.51%|
|Arts and artists||26.27%||2.95%|
|Beauty and personal care||16.65%||1.92%|
|Business and finance||21.56%||2.72%|
|Computers and electronics||19.29%||2.08%|
|Education and training||23.42%||2.90%|
|Entertainment and events||20.51%||2.36%|
|Health and fitness||21.48%||2.69%|
|Home and garden||21.60%||3.03%|
|Marketing and advertising||17.38%||2.04%|
|Media and publishing||22.15%||4.62%|
|Medical, dental, and healthcare||21.72%||2.49%|
|Music and musicians||21.88%||2.94%|
|Photo and video||23.24%||3.23%|
|Recruitment and staffing||21.14%||2.53%|
|Restaurant and venue||20.39%||1.40%|
|Social networks and online communities||21.06%||3.32%|
|Software and web app||21.29%||2.45%|
|Travel and transportation||20.44%||2.25%|
When it comes to email open rates, unsurprisingly, government-related emails enjoy the highest open rate with 28.77%. The second highest is “Hobbies” at 27.74%, which is also unsurprising, as people are interested in emails about their hobbies. The lowest industry average email open rate is for vitamin supplements at 15.03% (with E-commerce not far behind at 15.68%).
In terms of email click-through rates, hobbies have the highest rate with 5.01%, followed by media & publishing (4.62%) and government (3.99%).
So, what does that data mean to you?
If your average email open rates are above 21.33% and your average email click-through rates are above 2.62%, does that mean they are fully optimized, and you don’t need to change a thing?
If your average email open rates are below 21.33% and your average email click-through rates are below 2.62%, does that mean your email campaigns are unoptimized and you need to hire a new marketer?
The answer is most likely “No.”
If you are above the benchmark, that doesn’t mean you cannot get even higher open rates.
And if you are below the benchmark, that doesn’t mean you are doing something wrong. Sure, there is probably room for improvement, but the same applies even if you are above the benchmark.
Please note that there are many other benchmark services in addition to MailChimp, such as Campaign Monitor, GetResponse, Constant Contact, and HubSpot. And, of course, the data are different, too.
Let’s say you are in the retail industry, and your own email open rate is 19%. You’d like to see how you compare to the benchmark, so you head to MailChimp and see that the overall open rate is 18.39% for retail businesses.
You’re high! You don’t need to fix anything, right?
But then you go to Constant Contact’s benchmarks, where the average open rate for retail is 22.23%. Now, you’re worried!
You will never be able to find a perfect benchmark to compare yourself against; thus, benchmarks are only helpful as a very rough guide.
If your email open rates are 5% and email click-through rates are 1%, while the benchmarks are 25% and 5% respectively, then yes - the benchmark is a pretty good indicator that you need to change how you are doing things. On the other hand, if you’ve already had something in the same area as the benchmark, the benchmark cannot really tell you whether you are doing well or poorly because there are too many variables.
So, now back to the question “What is a good open and click-through rate for emails?” the answer is:
A good email open rate and click-through rate is better than it was the month before.
We are not trying to tell you that benchmarks are worthless, and you should ignore them. Rather, you just want to remind you that the most important benchmarks are your own benchmarks.
All things being equal, is your email open rates and click-through rates getting better or worse over time?
If they are getting better, you should view that as a success. If not, it might be time for some course correction.
Therefore, how can you improve your own email open rates and click-through rates? That’s the question we are going to answer in the next section.
11 tips to improve your email open and click-through rate
What you are doing to improve your email open rates and click-through rates is far more important than comparing to the benchmarks. So, let’s end this article with some practical tips on improving email open rates and click-through rates.
1. Nail your subject line
When talking about email open rates, subject lines are the most important part of your email. After all, they are pretty much the only content your subscribers will see when deciding whether or not to open your email.
Below are some quick tips:
- Keep your email subject line short - ideally, it should be under 60 characters
- Play around with “stand out” tactics, like humor, vanity, shock and awe, etc.
- Lead with a discount (if possible)
- Use numbers and lists
- Personalize your email subject lines (more on this later)
In addition, you can consider playing around with adding emojis in your email subject lines. There is some data suggesting that this can improve your email open rates, though it is not clear-cut, so you will want to see how it works with your particular audience.
For more information, check out our full guide on how to write the best email subject lines.
2. Make your preview text work for you
All email clients show your subject line, but many also give you a little bonus text - the preview text.
It’s essential to maximize all the real estate that is available to you, so you shouldn’t forget about your preview text when optimizing email open rates. According to Litmus, 24% of respondents use the preview text to decide whether to open an email.
The preview text should give a glimpse of what is inside your email to motivate subscribers to open. Treat this as an extension of your email subject line. For example, if your email subject line was “The biggest update we’ve been working on all year,” your curiosity-inducing preview might be, “And we’re sure that you’re going to love us for it.”
This part can also give readers a better view of what to expect, even when it doesn’t relate to your subject line completely. For instance, if your email subject line was “10 ways AI is changing the way we work,” and inside your emails are different articles and content, a compelling preview text could tease that. In your preview section, you might say, “plus other disruptions to keep an eye on.”
3. Use clear and consistent “From” contact information
Using a clear “From” field helps subscribers quickly realize that the email comes from a trusted source (you) instead of some random sender. If they can trust the source, they will be more likely to open it.
You can use the following tips when using the “From” field:
- Always use your brand name as the “From” name. If you want to personalize it, use “Name at/from Your Brand.” For instance, “Haley at AVADA Commerce.”
- Ensure that your “From” address is your main domain name.
- Avoid using “no-reply@” email addresses.
4. Segment your email list
Segmenting your email list is another helpful strategy to improve your open rates and click-through rates. With segmentation, you can send optimized emails to engage with different types of subscribers on your list.
For instance, let’s say you’re running an E-commerce store. It would not make sense to deliver the same email to customers who buy from you every single week as you deliver to people who haven’t bought in three months, right?
By segmenting your subscribers into different groups, you can send relevant emails to each type of customer, which can boost your open rates and click-through rates.
Check out our in-depth guide to email segmentation to learn more.
5. Personalize your emails
Studies show that with personalized subject lines, emails can enjoy 26% higher open rates than those without. Meanwhile, personalized emails have 2.5 times higher click-through rates, as well as are 6 times more likely to drive a conversion.
Logically, this makes sense - if someone sees a personalized subject line stand out from a list of generic subject lines, they are more likely to click on it.
Google has mastered email personalization, as you can see in the image below. It features content that specifically caters to the recipient, including local weather and travel information.
While Google’s email is really advanced as far as personalization goes, you can also incorporate personalization into your email newsletters. Some ways to personalize your own emails include:
- Capturing relevant information from your subscribers, like their first/last name, when they sign-up. You can then insert this information into your emails.
- Sending emails based on a subscriber’s activity
- Segmenting your email lists (per the previous suggestion)
With AVADA Commerce, you can create your own custom fields to gather subscriber information for even much more personalization in what you send. For more on how to personalize new emails, check out our guide.
6. Send your emails at the right day and time
In email marketing, timing really matters a lot.
Emails sent on a Tuesday afternoon might perform much better than emails on a Monday morning or Friday night. For instance, most office workers often check their emails at 10 AM, but they might not be as tuned-in at 7 PM when they are trying to relax.
This also depends on your industry and target market. If you are sending emails to college students, they might not be as active at 10 AM as office workers.
The most important thing is recognizing that day and time matter and experimenting to find the best time for your subscribers. Check out our article on the best time to send emails for more.
7. Pay attention to your sending frequency
It might seem counterintuitive to deliver fewer emails to increase your click-through rates. But sending too often can actually increase subscriber fatigue, cause open rates to plummet, and email complaints to rise.
A study by ReturnPath found that subscribers tolerate about 5 emails per week from a given sender. Beyond that, the ensuing complaints dramatically increase and read rates significantly drop.
The best thing you can do:
Experiment with various sending frequencies and track your stats closely to find out what works best for your subscribers. Remember that email is not a one-size-fits-all thing.
Let your subscribers choose the types of email they receive and how often they get it. For example, in the last part of your welcome email, ask them as below.
8. Make your emails mobile-friendly
Do you know that 42.3% of recipients will simply delete emails that aren’t optimized for mobile?
That could prove a problem, considering that up to 59% of millennials and 67% of Gen Z users check their emails on mobile. So, if you are not doing mobile-first email campaigns, it may be time to start.
Below are some actionable steps to make sure your emails are mobile-friendly.
Shorten your paragraphs. Keep your paragraphs about 3-4 lines long, even on mobile. Whenever possible, separate long paragraphs into shorter ones.
Use bullet points. If you have a lot of things to mention, bullets can organize those points neatly.
Take advantage of formatting options. For example, make key takeaways bold or underline important data. You can also use boxes or different color backgrounds to make things stand out.
Send test emails and open them on mobile. You should send test emails to yourself and your team. Evaluate if there’s anything that can be broken down into smaller parts or needs formatting.
If you can make your email campaigns fit for mobile, it can increase your chances of getting higher click-through rates because:
- Recipients can skim your email content better and understand what your email is about
- They know why they might want to click through to a link in your email
9. Focus on one main CTA
To boost your click-through rates, you may want to practice focusing on one main CTA (call to action) in your email.
No matter what your own desired action is - sign up for an account, download a guide, book a call, etc., - make sure this is the main CTA in your email.
You are free to experiment with different CTAs, but focus on making those CTAs drive traffic to the same page on your website. For instance, say your email is promoting a new product. The copy in your email can explain why the new product is so valuable, and the benefits customers can get if they buy it.
Then throughout the email, you might include the link to the product page with different anchor phrases and buttons.
10. Clean your lists of unengaged subscribers
One huge variable for open rates and click-through rates is how clean your email lists are. If you are sending a big chunk of emails to people who haven’t interacted with your emails in months, your open rates and click-through rates are obviously going to be low.
That's why it is a good best practice to keep your email lists clean. You will save on sending costs, improve your email reputation, as well as get more useful data.
Don’t know where to start? Read our guide of list cleaning for more information.
11. Track and monitor your results
Finally, all of marketing is actually a series of educated experiments. It won’t be an overnight matter when boosting your open rates and click-through rates.
You will need to constantly test the different tactics to see what works best. Due to this, make it a habit to review your email performance at least every month, or even more often if you send emails more frequently.
Take your most recent email campaigns over a given period, then export the results to compare their open rates and click-through rates. You can ask yourself these questions to glean any insights from your results:
What tactic is used for each email to drive traffic to this link? (For instance, emails with clickable images might get more clicks than emails without.)
What was the topic of each email? (Different email topics can have different interests among your audience.)
When understanding the answers to these questions, you will know which tactics to continue using and which ones to ditch.
The bottom line
In the end, a good email open rate and click-through rate is better than it was the month before.
You can use the benchmark data to realize how you stack up. However, the most important data is whether you can increase your own open rates and click-through rates.
With the actionable tips at the end of this post, you should have the knowledge to start improving and iterating your email campaigns to move your open rates and click-through rates ever upward.
And if you’re looking for an email marketing platform that gives you all the tools to maximize your open rates and click-through rates, AVADA Commerce can help. Get started today - it’s free!