Metrics 101: What are Open and Click Rates? And Why Should I Care?

by | Aug 21, 2014

One of the tragic parts of the new digital world is people tend to assume you know things. You find yourself “Googling” very basic terms and because the basics are so…well basic, it is often hard to find the answers you need to get started.

Open Rates

When starting an email marketing campaign, one of the fundamental things you need to know is whether anyone is opening the emails you have slaved over to create. After all, you are not sending emails as a pleasurable hobby. Your campaign dashboard will allow you to monitor this critical data point.
The open rate is a metric showing how many people sent a particular email took a look at what you have to say. The rate is normally expressed as a percentage. You can calculate the open rate by taking the number of emails sent, subtract the number of bounces, and divide the number of opens by that total.  Express that number as a percentage, and you will have your open rate.
Your email delivery platform automatically adds a piece of code to request notification of when an email is opened. Open rates vary a lot because of many factors:
Type of industry: For example, a non-profit will generally have better open rates than an E-commerce sender.
Relationship with people on list: People are more likely to open an email from the church or from a friend. If you are not quickly recognized, the chances of getting your email opened go down sharply.
Size of list: Large lists, particularly if they target a broad audience, get lower open rates. Tightly defined niches work best.
Subject lines: Experiment with a variety of subject lines or try this subject line tool. Studies have shown changing a word or two can greatly increase the number of opens. Don’t try to razzle-dazzle people. Instead, tell them what’s inside.
Day of week and time of day: Some days are just too busy to open emails from a particular sender. Try different times based on what you know about your recipients.

Click Rates

The rate of clicks suggests how many of your email recipients find the content you offer valuable. If you are getting people to open your email, but they do not click on a hyperlink in the email, they are telling you one of two things. Either the additional information you offered them is not interesting to them or you have not done a good job of enticing them to learn more. Both issues are a matter of quality content.
Make it clear where the link will be going. Instead of using the word “click here”, hyperlink a text phrase to describe what they will get if they click. Make the phrase descriptive and precise. Point the hyperlink to high-quality, relevant information your reader will appreciate.

Value of Open/Click Rates

Of all the metrics you need to monitor about your email campaigns, these two rates are most essential. A third valuable metric is the ratio between opens and clicks. Review these numbers each time you send out an email campaign. Take the time to determine what you might need to change to increase the numbers. After all, better numbers mean your time is better spent sending the emails in the first place. It’s all about your bottom line profits.