What is a Good Open Rate of a Sent Newsletter?


Well, I’d say it doesn’t matter as much as you think because you won’t really know your open rate* anyway?

You may have a nice statistics dash-board showing 25% open rate, but is that really true?

No, it isn’t.

Most of us don’t want to download images in our e-mail browsers by default. Unfortunately, the only thing that allows anyone to measure the open rate on newsletters are how many times a little 1×1 pixel-sized image have been fetched from the web-server. This means that it’s impossible to fully measure the open rate.

In fact, when doing a send out to 1574 people, we saw 374 had opened (23,8%), and as many as 59 (3,7%) were interested in the content enough to click a link to get to know more.

Since, in our Otto-system we can see exactly which had opened, and which had clicked, and we also can subtract the number of people who had clicked from the open-rate, we would have removed the full 59 contacts from the 374 that had opened if the open rate was measured 100% correctly, right?

Well, we were only left with 25. That is 25 measured as having both opened and clicked, and therefore there were 59-25=34 left who had clicked but who were NOT measured as open.

Since it’s pretty hard – well, impossible – to click a link in an e-mail without actually having opened and even read the e-mail itself, we can conclude a couple of things:

  • If the difference would be correct for all other recipients as well, we would have 59 / 25 or 2,36 times more opened e-mails, or 883 actual ones, which would mean that the true open-rate was as high as 56,1%!
  • It really shows that measuring open rates doesn’t really mean anything except possibly that it’s good to A/B split-test different
    • subject lines and/or
    • from-addresses and/or
    • send-out times
      …which would be the only thing open rates could really be used for.
  • The real thing to measure is what your click-rate is. And even more importantly, who are they, and what do you want them to do next!



* How are good open rates measured?

Open rates can only be measured by including information (normally a 1 x 1 pixel image your eyes won’t pay any attention to) that is fetched from a server on the Internet. The number of times it has been fetched is the only way you can track it!


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