22 thoughts on “Little Known Facts About Email Open Rates

  1. Adrian, Great information. I was wondering what was going on with Gmail users, and now I understand. Yet I must admit I did a deep clean of my list prior to understanding this change. Yet, I barely notice it now.. so I’m okay with it. We live and learn. I will be back here prior to making big moves in the future. Make it great and keep smiling

  2. Hi Shalonda,

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. In some cases the measured opens are so wrong that now I don’t even bother to check that metric. I had subscribers who almost always were reported as opening my mailings while never clicking my links. False positive opens ;-)

  3. Hmmm, interesting article by Adrian. It’s good to know these “facts” rather than rely on guessing or opinions (which as we know, everyone has one, :) ).

    I am sure many will read this and scratch their head wondering why they didn’t realize this earlier. But will most people agree with your conclusions? I guess it’s left for them to test things out with their email open rates.

    Thanks to Piyush Mathur, for sharing this on Kingged.com

  4. Hi Kingsley,

    Thank you for your comment.

    As for your question regarding my conclusions, honestly I don’t care whether the majority of the people agree or not with me. There are many idiots, newbies or just amateurs out there. Why should I care whether they agree or not with me? ;-)

    A professional opinion isn’t related to democracy and votes. Most of the people aren’t professional and their opinion doesn’t matter.

    I only care about the opinions of the email marketing professionals. Have you read an article or anything else where such a professional claims that the open rate is an accurate metric?


    P.S. Disclaimer & Example: When it comes to using a product, users’ opinions matter if such opinions are related to how fine that product works, etc. However, when it comes to what’s inside that product (for example the lines of codes in case of a piece of software), users opinions don’t matter unless they are professionals.

  5. Email marketers should be interested in email opening rates – I guess every Internet marketer should do because this is one of the ways of making reliable revenue online.

    This post has successfully explained why the methods of calculating email open rates should not be relied upon but it fails to CLEARLY suggest a SOLUTION. Perhaps, I am missing something!

    This is comment was shared in kingged.com where this post was kingged and shared for Internet marketers.

    Sunday – Kingged contributor

  6. Hi Sunday,

    Thank you for your comment. Yes, you’re missing something:

    1) All big email marketing companies use the “technology” I mentioned. They know that it’s not a very good one but they don’t have a better solution. Do you expect me to have it? ;-) Anyway, it seems that you missed the topic of this article: little known FACTS about email open rates. Maybe you missed the title of the article too.

    2) There’s a better metric than open rate, and that one is suggested clearly in the article you’ve read. It’s CTR.

  7. Thanks for your response, Adrian.

    You are right – it doesn’t matter what newbies “think”. What matters is what professionals have to say, not just based on opinions for the sake of it, but opinions based on facts and tests and data on ground.

  8. Adrian,

    Thanks for sharing this eye-opening information.

    You always provide fantastic, usable value on your blog.

    I figured something was up with Aweber statistics when one of my subscribers contacted me and asked a question about one of my email messages. I checked my stats because I was sure this person showed as never opening any of my emails.

    It turned out that he has read every single message, and here I was almost ready to delete him from my list. He also signed up to my affiliate program after I answered his questions.

    So there you go, email marketing works, but there is a lot of misinformation around.

    Since then I rely more on tracking analytics for click thru rates than open rates.

    Big lesson learned. Until reading your post, I had no idea why this happened.

    You have solved this riddle for me. I cannot thank you enough.

    ~ Jude

  9. You’re very much welcome, Jude. Open rates statistics are so unreliable that I don’t even bother checking them.

    Thank you for your comment & for sharing my article :-)

  10. Adrian,

    Great write and lovely insight. I bet you totally nailed it with the less accurate open rate.

    And I can’t agree more with the open email “offline” part Haha!

    Definitely deserve a share and thanks for that!

  11. Hi Reginald,

    Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad that you agree with that controversial part of the article regarding the offline opening of the emails LOL

  12. Adrian,

    This was very informative! A lot of it I was not aware of.

    I use these tools as a guide. Not many of them have been found to be 100% accurate. If your list size is increasing, hopefully your open rate is increasing.

    It all boils down to conversions. If your list is growing, use it to promote your product or service and if your sales increase than you know that things are working. If your rates are better but the sales are the same or worse than it may be time to change some things.

    Thanks and shared!

  13. Hi Adrian,

    I think it’s my first time here.

    I like your explanation of the images download to count opened emails. I knew that already, but not in so many details though.

    I don’t sweat my open rate too much these days as I’m not selling stuff through email much anymore, but it’s important to know what’s going on with our lists.

  14. Hi Adrian,

    I use this technique once in a while to identify inactive subscribers and I do remove them. However, I have been using a 6 months window. But, may be, it’s a good idea to bump it up to 6 months.

    I usually send them a re-engagement email (not seris) asking specifically if they still want to stay in my mailing list and if I don’t hear from them, they are gone!

    Thank you for sharing some great tips here. Have a great week!


  15. Hi Kumar,

    Thank you for your comment. I think that the period of 6 months is way too longer ;-) Anyway, the real important issue here isn’t the period of time but the way inactive subscribers are identified.

    Case 1 – If you define an inactive subscriber a subscriber who didn’t open your emails during a certain period of time, due to an imperfect technology you may consider inactive a subscriber who actually is active.

    Case 2 – If you define an inactive subscriber a subscriber who didn’t click any of your links during a certain period of time, you can’t go wrong. That’s the whole point :)

    If you use the assessment from Case 1 and send only one re-engagement email, you may remove an active subscriber who for one reason or another missed that last email.

    If you use the assessment from Case 2, even if you send only one re-engagement email, you have no chance to remove an active subscriber.

  16. Just found this via twitter. I’ve a small mailing list and have only just started to look at the analytics side so this article has been incredibly useful. Will focus on click-throughs from now on an not worry about ‘opens’. Cheers.

  17. Hi Adrian. That’s great advice. It amazes me how many people don’t realize how inaccurate their email open count is. Another scenario where the open won’t be counted is when the receiver’s email reader is configured to display the text only version of the email. If that is the case then there is no image to be downloaded because that only exists in the HTML version of the message. It’s so inaccurate that I don’t pay any attention to it. CTR is all that matters, and it isn’t necessarily accurate either because they could copy and paste the displayed link in their browser without the tracking codes that would update the CTR.

    1. Hi Ben,

      I don’t see any reason why someone would waste their time by copying and pasting the link in their browser, but it may happen indeed – there are many noobs out there :) Sometimes technically it’s hard for a noob to find the plain link, but other times it’s easier. It depends on how sender’s email is designed.

      Anyway, both your points are valid, thank you for your comment.

  18. Hey Adrian

    We at Brainpundits also run some campaigns on MailChimp and so far the open rate hasn’t been accurate. Sometimes the response we get from emails are amazing and sometimes it is just flat.
    Great article.

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