Writing and Publishing

What Email Open Rates Mean

One effective way to market our books is via email marketing, often in the form of a regular email newsletter. This, of course, assumes we have an email list, which is a different discussion for another time.

When we do email marketing, the email software we use, such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, or AWeber, will track open rates. Open rate is the percentage of opened email messages, compared to the number sent.

However, open rate tracking is not an exact science. Some messages can be counted as “opened” even though they were never actually read, while others were read in the preview mode but never counted as “opened.” (Generally, when the images in the email are downloaded, it counts as being opened, so people who don’t routinely download images and only read the text of the message, do not trip the “opened” counter. Sometimes I do that.)

Given these limitations, what is a good open rate? The open rate varies by industry, relevant to their audience’s interest in the sender’s content. Some groups enjoy high open rates around 25 percent, while other categories can be half of that. I can’t find an overall average open rate for all email messages, but given such large variations between different types, it wouldn’t be helpful anyway. One thing is certain: everyone wants his or her open rates to be higher.

Here are some ways to increase the open rate of our email newsletters:

  • Provide Valuable Content: When we provide good, useful content, people will anticipate our email messages and look forward to reading them. We need to give them value.
  • Meet Recipient Needs: We need to survey readers to find out what they like and don’t like about our email newsletter. Also, ask what else the might like to read from us, how often they want to hear from us, and how long our messages should be. Then give them what they want.
  • Connect With Readers: Our writing needs to be accessible; we need to let our personalities come through. We need to be honest and open; allow our vulnerabilities to show. If we are real, readers will connect with us.

If we provide value to meet the needs of readers in a way that connects with them, they will look forward to our newsletters and read them. Our open rate will increase and our audience engagement will soar.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s book: Successful Author FAQs: Discover the Art of Writing, the Business of Publishing, and the Joy of Wielding Words. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book Successful Author FAQs for insider tips and insights.

By Peter Lyle DeHaan

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, publishes books about business, customer service, the call center industry, and business and writing.

5 replies on “What Email Open Rates Mean”

Nice, short and to the point, again, Peter!

I haven’t worked on blogging. I have written many posts that I never sent out because I never mastered the mechanics of blogging. I lose more time to publish than write. I am hoping to learn more and to begin blogging more seriously in the fall.

Last week, most of the mails were about “blogging your book” before publishing it, so as to draw attention to it. I thought I begin doing that. Any thoughts?

I read most of the mails that come, when I have control of my inbox. Because of computer issues I had for a couple weeks, I cannot catch up again. I will read the text that comes to my mail but not always open the site for images and comments.

Have a wonderful month!


Thank you, Peter, for sharing. I read your posts. I especially like the one about the woman with your concluding thoughts. Yes, parents owe it to their kids to bring them up with values and deep beliefs, whether the children follow that path or not.

Hopefully, I will begin blogging parts of my book in fall. Still very insecure on how to draw readers. I’ll see how it goes.

Take care, Peter.

Sounds wonderful! Thank you, Peter. I appreciate your support and friendship..

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