Open Rates: Moving To More Reliable Metrics

open rates

If you have worked as an email marketer for a while, you know that the industry has long considered open rates an essential metric for gauging campaign success. However, if you only focus on open rates, you overlook crucial insights that could refine your campaigns and improve your ROI. This blog post explores other metrics you should track actively to measure campaign success and obtain meaningful results.

What are Open Rates?

Open rates are the percentage of people who open an email after receiving it. It’s a historical way to measure a subscriber’s engagement with your emails. They can indicate your campaign’s success, but it’s not the only metric to consider.

Open rates can be misleading because it only considers people who open the email – not those who read it or click through. You’ll need to consider other metrics to get a more accurate picture of your email’s success.

Reasons Why Open Rates Are Not Always Reliable

Open rates are not always a reliable metric for several reasons:

Image Blocking

Many email clients block images by default, meaning an email containing a tracking pixel (a small, invisible image) won’t be downloaded and registered as open.

Preview Pane

Some email clients display a preview of the email in the preview pane without actually opening it. This can cause false positives in the open rate as the email was never fully opened.

Mobile Devices

The rise of mobile devices has made it easier for users to quickly scan through their inbox without fully opening each email. This can inflate open rates because the email was never fully read.

Multiple Views

Some recipients may open the same email multiple times, inflating the open rate.

Spam Filters

Spam filters can also impact open rates, as the recipient may never see emails that are flagged as spam.

Bad Subject Lines

Another factor that can affect open rates is the subject line. People are less likely to open an email if the subject line is not interesting or relevant.

Email Clients

Email clients can also play a role in the accuracy of open rates, as some email clients do not support images or trackers. Some providers, like, actively look for pixel trackers and remove them before they are triggered.

More Reliable Metrics to Consider Against Open Rates

There are a variety of metrics that you can use to measure the success of your email campaigns. Here are some of the key metrics you should be tracking:

Click Rates

Click rates measure how many people interacted with email. It’s a good measure of your content’s engagement and can help refine your messaging.

Conversion Rates

Conversion rates measure how many people took the desired action after clicking through your email. This is a great way to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns in driving sales or sign-ups.

Unsubscribe Rates

Unsubscribe rates measure how many people opt out of your emails after receiving them. If your unsubscribe rate is high, it could be a sign that your content is not resonating with your audience or that you’re sending too many emails. We recommend referring to this helpful article filled with tips and strategies to lower the number of unsubscribes.

Engagement Rates

Engagement rates measure how many people opened your email, clicked on your website, and interacted with your content. This is a great way to measure the overall success of your email campaigns.

Hard & Soft Bounces Rates

When too many emails are sent to invalid or non-existent addresses, email providers can block or blacklist your messages. By keeping your hard and soft bounces under 2%, you can maintain a good reputation with email providers and ensure your messages reach the intended recipients. Anything over 5% is indicative of more significant problems.

Analyzing Your Data to Uncover Insights

Once you’ve identified the metrics you want to track, you must analyze your data to uncover meaningful insights. Here are some tips for analyzing your data:

Set Benchmarks

Start by setting benchmarks for each metric you’re tracking. This will give you a baseline to measure against and help you identify areas for improvement.

Compare Campaigns

Compare your campaigns to see which ones are performing better than others. This will help you identify which tactics are working and must be refined.

Look for trends in your data to uncover insights into your audience’s behavior and interests. This will help you refine your campaigns to engage your audience better.

Test and Refine

Test different tactics to see what works best and refine your approach. This will help you optimize your campaigns for better results.


Open rates used to be an important metric for measuring the success of your email campaigns, but they’re not the only metric you should be tracking anymore. By looking at metrics like click rates, conversion rates, unsubscribe rates, and engagement rates, you can gain valuable insights into your audience’s behavior and refine your campaigns for better results. Start tracking the metrics that matter and analyzing your data to get meaningful results from your email campaigns.

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