What is a Good Email Newsletter Open Rate?

Jacob Brain


Sending a successful email newsletter campaign takes some real effort. Many times you may put a lot of work in to the program to experience little, or dwindling results as the campaign pushes on. Let’s explore a good open rate and what that means for your email newsletter.

Where Newsletters Fit In the Puzzle

Your email newsletter is one of many marketing activities, yet many companies do not have a clear understanding of where this email campaign fits into the overall lead generation plan. Historically, newsletters were simple ways to stay in front of your existing customers and keep them engaged. Fast forward, and today newsletters are changing into more frequent lead nurture and retention tools aimed at both aiding the prospective client and retaining the existing one. Newsletters in our definition are emails that simple contain your thought leadership, over other items such as global news, or direct sales type emails. They are for consumption, not just pushing a product.

So with that in mind, we can start to see newsletters as a tool in our sales funnel in two places.


Email Open Rate

From an acquisition standpoint, they are converting prospects into deeper leads by making them aware of newer content available and moving them deeper into the funnel.

From a retention standpoint, they are keeping your name top of mind, and opening your clients to all aspects of your services. In many cases the content you serve actually does both! So you can send the same content to both segments successfully, but it will help you interpret the open rate to see what you are really doing.

What is Email Open Rate?

Email open rate is the best guess that your ESP has about how many people open your email. It’s a guess, simply because the technology can not literally track this metric consistently across all email clients because of all the technical issues, firewalls and spam protection in place. So for the ones that click, download images, and allow open tracking you can see this metric.

So that is why a good open rate, seems to skew in the 10-40% range for most types of emails. You might be discouraged that your open rate is only 14%, but some of our clients have a 3% open rate and are excited. Why you might ask? Open rate is generally controlled by the quality and quantity of your email list.

For example, if you are sending an email to 50 of your best clients, you would expect an open rate of 30-50%. If you were sending an email to 50 random folks from your chamber of commerce, you might only get 20%. The open rate is challenged by the quality of the list and where you are in the prospective buyers mind.

The point being, that if your open rate for your newsletter is 10%, you could have two scenarios.

  • It could be a great rate if you are collecting new leads online and your list is over 4K and its all prospective leads.
  • It could be a horrible rate if your list includes 700 of your past clients.

Email quality and quantity matter.

What To Do About Low Email Open Rates?

So if you think you have a lower open rate, or the same list you have is dwindling in open rate, here are some suggestions.

  1. Segment your list. If you have a prospect based email list, you might want to segment out your list of contacts who have stopped clicking in the past 6 months. The sales cycle for your product or service might have pasted. I don’t advocate getting rid of them, but segmenting them into a separate list could allow you to campaign on those folks later, or see your metrics more clearly. This would allow you to see our target list engagement rates more clearly.
  2. Subject Line Testing. You might just be running out of steam with your titles. Doing some A/B testing on subjects and content might help your newsletter open rates. Even the best subject lines can only give a 3-8% open rate boost, so if you are looking for more than that, you’ll need to do something else.
  3. Change Frequency. You should always be testing your frequency of your email newsletters. Sometimes you just don’t send enough for someone to care. Especially early on, your prospect lists can tolerate weekly emails without a problem. For past clients, monthly might be enough. Test this at least twice a year to boost engagement.

Making Email Work

Email should be the work horse of your lead nurture campaigns. If you are not using email to draw prospects closer down the funnel, you’re missing a big opportunity to draw more sales to your business.

When is the last time you’ve had an outside view on your marketing campaigns? Our free marketing review will give you insights into how your prospects view your company, your digital marketing channels and suggestions into making it all work better. As an email marketing company in Frederick, Maryland, we’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. Sign up today.

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