Ecommerce Email Analytics Decoded: Open Rates

email analytics

E-commerce stores are constantly bombarded with stats, charts, and figures. But what do all these numbers mean? What numbers matter? What results are good results?

We've come to your rescue. This series outlines the most important stats you need to keep track of, and industry benchmarks that you should be aiming to top. Let's start with open rates...

What's an open rate?

Open rates measure how many subscribers open (or view) a specific email campaign. The open rate is expressed as a percentage that is calculated as follows:

Open Rate Calculation

It is important to note, that to record an open rate the subscriber must be displaying images and have HTML enabled. However, if a subscriber clicks through the email without displaying images we will also record this as an open. For subscribers with a preview pane, an open rate will be calculated only if they are displaying images.

With these conditions possibly skewing your result, it is best to take your open rate with a grain of salt. The best way to get value from your open rate is to use it as a comparative metric. For example, you could A/B test if a informative or vague subject line results in opens for your audience.

You could also test what emails your customers are opening. Personalized promotional emails are proven to have open rates 29% higher than the bulk email newsletter

What is the typical open-rate for ecommerce?

With over $12 million in revenue generated for our users and hundreds of millions of emails delivered by our platform, we found that the average open rate for our users is 17.68%. This encompasses small niche stores to large multinational brands.

However with any list or group of lists there zillion variables in the play including the type of email, time sent, and the size of the company. This results in significant variability. If you're getting somewhere in between 15% and 35% you're probably somewhere around average for your store.

There are very few stores who are getting much above 50%, but if you are...well done rockstar!

And if you're testing away, trying to get to around 80%: People are way too busy and their inboxes are way too full! I'm obsessed with good email marketing and look at mine:

Unopened Emails

How to improve email open rates

  • Test different subject lines: It's your one line sales pitch. Tell your customer the benefits of the products inside your email or the details of the content.

  • Avoid Spam Filters: If you want people to open your emails you have to get past the spam filter first. Read our quick guide on improving deliverability.

  • Test day and time: Unless you're selling beer, no one is reading your email Friday afternoon. Make sure you optimize your best send time

  • Balance Images with Text: Most people will first view your email in their preview pane without displaying images. Make sure you include text and alt descriptions to entice them to open further.

  • Send Personalized Product Recommendations: Bill doesn't want to see what dresses are on sale. Make sure you're sending your customers products they want to see. Get started with SmartrMail.

Josh Reyes

Josh is the Marketing Coordinator and Content Lead at SmartrMail. When he's not helping stores get smartr with their email marketing, he's likely on the hunt for Melbourne's best fried chicken burger.

Melbourne, Australia

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