Email open rate is a measure which indicates a percentage of opened emails for a certain email marketing campaign. Email open rate usually shows how well you were able to catch subscriber’s attention with the subject line or whether your emails reached the inbox or went to the spam folder.

The SendPulse marketer defines an email open rate, explains how to calculate it, and offers insights into how to increase this metric.

Why is email open rate important?

Email open rate is one of the indicators to monitor email marketing campaign’s success. It helps to understand which aspect of email strategy requires improvement.

If an email open rate is low, it’s a wake-up call. Imagine an email marketing campaign as a funnel. Obviously, the last and the most desired action in email marketing (usually it’s a click-through) won’t be taken by the recipients unless they open the email and then read it to the end.

Despite its own importance, email open rate is most useful in combination with other measures of email marketing success like click-through rate, the number of unsubscribers, spam complaints, and forwarded emails. This set of metrics provides a holistic view of how effective a certain email marketing campaign is.

If your email open rate is unusually low, you may have failed to catch subscriber’s attention with your subject line or haven’t defined the right time for your email.

How to calculate email open rate

Email open rate can be tracked with a help of a transparent 1x1 pixel hidden in every email. The formula to calculate email open rate is

Open rate = unique opens/(sent emails - bounced emails).

Email open rate

In your SendPulse account, you can see the detailed metrics when you select one of your campaigns in ‘My campaigns’ section. On that page, you can find a number of emails sent and delivered, and errors; open rate and click-through rate; and a subscriber activity chart. Also, you are able to export this data in PDF or XLS formats.

Another frequently asked question is what is the normal email open rate? Many marketers want to find out whether their email marketing campaign is successful or not.

The truth is that there’s no such thing as a normal email open rate, adequate for all niches. Email open rate varies depending on the industry, the type of email (newsletter, triggered email, or transactional email), and many other factors. Besides, there are a few sociological and technical tendencies that influence email open rate:

  • Companies dealing with sports, art, religion, and hobbies reach a higher email open rate in comparison with e-commerce businesses.
  • Emails on more niche topics show a higher open rate that broad topic emails.
  • The bigger a mailing list is, the lower an email open rate.
  • Some users have images turned off, so their open won’t count (unless they click-through the link inside the email).
  • Plain text emails won’t have an open rate, because there’re no pictures used.
  • Some email clients have a function of previewing images. It will count as opening, but the recipient might never actually open it.

To sum up, you don’t need to consider email open rate as the main criteria of email campaign success, but if your email open rate gets low out of the blue, it indicates that something has gone wrong and it’s time to take action. Conversely, if it jumps higher then usually, it means you are on the right track.

Let's increase email open rates!

You can use personalization, segmentation, A/B tests, and preheader text to your advantage and improve customer engagement.


How to increase email open rate

There are many reasons why the recipients don’t open an email. To increase email open rate you basically need to cope with these issues. These tips might help.

  1. Clean your mailing list. One of the reasons for the low email open rate is sending to the inactive subscribers. If subscribers don’t react to your emails during the last 3-6 months (depending on the type of business), send a reactivation email campaign. If there is still no sign of presence, remove the inactive contacts from your list. Clean your mailing lists from the fake and inactive email addresses regularly to increase the open rate. Besides, SendPulse automatically unsubscribes emails that we were unable to deliver to, so it’s one less thing for you to worry about.
  2. Segment your mailing list. Segmentation leads to more targeted, thus more relevant email marketing campaigns. Start segmenting your mailing list, bearing in mind that segmented campaigns reach 14% higher open rates comparing to non-segmented.
  3. Use the sender’s name. Sender’s name should have credibility for the customers. Do you like emails with sender’s name or such? Try either a company name (GAP Factory) or a person’s name (Stevie Van Der).
  4. Improve your subject line and preheader text. Make it funny and intriguing for your audience. A good subject line inspires people to open an email and see what’s inside. Personalize your subject line to increase the chances of opening. Below is the example of a ridiculous subject line for a New Year email.Subject line
  5. Run A/B tests. A/B testing helps to indicate which component of the email shows weakness and needs improvements. A/B test is a comparison of two slightly different emails sent to two equal groups of recipients in order to find out which variant of a subject line, preheader, sender’s name, or time to send results in a higher email open rate (as well as click-through rate)
  6. Auto resend to unreads. Increase an email open rate with a SendPulse tool which automatically resends the emails to those recipients who never opened them. It suggests scheduling the resend time and changing the subject line, so the user won’t recognize it is the same old email.Resend to unreads
  7. Provide your audience with relevant content. A couple of irrelevant messages in a row weakens people’s interest and results in lower open rates and a general loss of trust. The cornerstone of email marketing is high-quality, relevant content. Without it, all the measurements will suffer an inevitable drop.
  8. Come up with mobile-friendly emails. About half of emails are opened on mobile devices. If your emails aren’t mobile-friendly, people won’t open them the next time.
  9. Send emails at the most appropriate time. Wrong timing is the other reason for a decreasing open rate. It is not convenient to read emails during rush hours and at night. Use A/B tests to find out the best time for sending or schedule your email marketing campaigns with SendPulse.


  1. The article "The Science Behind Email Open Rates (and How to Get More People to Read Your Emails)" on SuperOffice blog gives a definition of the term, sheds light on the average email open rate, explains how to compare it to the industry average, and provides tips on how to increase this metric.
  2. The article "What’s a Good Email Open Rate and How You Can Improve Yours" on OptinMonster blog provides a formula to calculate the metric, dwells on the average email open rate, explains the reasons for low open rates, and suggests tips to follow.
  3. The article "Email Open Rates By Industry: See How You Stack Up" on HubSpot blog provides insights into the useful statistics.
  4. The article "10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Email Open Rate" on OptinMonster blog considers effective techniques to improve email open rates.
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