Email Open Rate: Is It the Most Important Email Marketing Metric?

Checking business emails is one of the first things that come to one’s mind when starting work or a day at the office.

Email marketing is one of the initial touchpoints in the prospect’s decision-making process and hence a high email open rate is a metric often used by businesses as a metric to gauge email marketing campaign performance. 

When it comes to email marketing, it’s easy to get caught up in processes, technology tools, and best practices.

There are other industry benchmarks that are equally important as compared to email open rate, that is understanding your subscribers, their requirements,  their behavior, etc. Email open rates, click rates, and reply rates are commonly used metrics that determine the performance of an email marketing campaign.

However, a single email can have many outcomes, even if it’s targeting the same segment of potential customers, depending on how they were sent, when they were sent, and to whom they were sent.

Email Marketing Metrics: Introduction

This article would be your guide to the most common metrics used in email marketing reports and how they could be directly connected to buyer behavior.

Email marketers are hands-on with the below metrics but as a sales leader that wants to better its SDR team’s performance, it’s best you understand the various email marketing metrics and get a sense of the industry benchmarks. 

  • Email Open Rate: What Is It?
  • Industry-Wide Email Marketing Metrics
  • Rates of Email Open, Click, and Reply cannot predict Customer Behaviour accurately
  • Concentrate on intentions and results to predict what your customers will do

Email Open Rate: What Is It?

Email open rate is a key metric for email marketers. 

An email ‘open rate is calculated by dividing the number of emails opened by the total number of emails sent.

This is important because it tells you how many readers had the option to engage with your content, which can be useful in optimizing future email campaigns.

Let’s say you send out an email to 100 subscribers who receive it – with an open rate of 20% and a conversion rate of 10%, that means 20 people opened your email and 10 people eventually converted. 

Higher open rates are normally associated with campaign success. 

What Is A Good Open Rate for Email?

Email campaign success can be determined by evaluating the open rate, click-through rates, and conversion rates.  

Click Through Rate represents the ratio of prospects who clicked on the link provided in the email to the total number of prospects who opened the email. The link would redirect them to a landing page, blog post, etc which would then encourage the prospect to initiate a call of action (normally this CTA is associated with a conversion). A higher click-through rate represents the accuracy with which the needs of the prospects (buyer sentiments) have been identified.  Many industry experts state that personalization in emails betters CTR by 14% and conversion rates by 10% 

Email Response Rate is the ratio of the response received to the total number of emails sent out. Responses can be categorized into positive responses and negative responses. A higher positive response rate shows the higher engagement of the prospects in email campaigns. While response rates vary based on the type of campaign, a 3% response rate is indicative of a good quality B2B prospecting pipeline.

Bounce rate is the ratio of the emails that fail to deliver and are returned by the recipient’s mail server to the total number of emails sent out. A higher bounce rate indicates that the emails are getting labeled as spam. Lowering the daily sending frequency of emails per account and closely working with your IT person to improve data sources should help get your bounce rate in check. Try and maintain a bounce rate of 2.75% or lower.

The Opt-out rate is the ratio of people who unsubscribe on receiving the email to the total number of emails received. A higher opt-out rate indicates that your targeting and messaging should be rechecked. Around 1% is the average opt-out rate. Whatever the case, ensure that an unsubscribe link is made available, or else recipients might start marking emails as spam.

Email marketing metrics also vary depending on the type of industry. Below are a few industry-based metrics:

IndustryOpen RateClick-Through RateBounce RateOpt-Out Rate
Software As A Service21.3%2.5%0.6%0.4%
Marketing and Advertising17.4%2.0%0.4%0.3%
Business and Finance21.6%2.8%0.4%0.2%
Source: Campaign Monitor Benchmark 2021

What is a good metric if it is not actioned upon? Optimize your sales sequence campaigns based on these insights. When optimizing your email campaign strategy the team should also consider some of the below strategies.

  1. Timing: Choosing morning hours (9 a.m. to 11 a.m.) to send the campaigns can improve the performance of the email campaign. The day of the week is also important. Monday is considered to be one of the best days to start an email campaign. Remember that this data is very subjective based on the industry and audience, so monitor your sending activity and make tweaks based on your campaign data.
  2. To avoid ending up in spam, ensure that email authentication through DKIM and SPF is done, check that the email list is updated, get your content more personalized, and avoid spamming.
  3. Subject lines should be relevant, short, and personalized so as to catch the reader’s attention. lets you A/B test subject lines. Then optimize based on the open rates
  4. Highlight the details – Add formatted and accurate details in your email. This representation of the details not only makes the recipient read more but also waits for your next communication. Beautifully represented details or important information builds a superb first impression.
  5. A/B testing the strategies or style of communication can help you understand which way is working for you and which isn’t. For the purpose of A/B testing, you can use different offers, teasers, punchlines, or tonalities such as urgency. 
  6. Adding persuasive content, delivering powerful messages, or highlighting interesting parts of the blog post or features, encourages the customers to click on the link provided and hence increasing the click-through rate.
  7. Personalized & catchy subject lines along with a personalized first line of the email content would help increase the response rate. Personalizing the email message makes the prospect feel that you are connected with him and have been keeping a track of his likes, dislikes, online orders, interests, or preferences. This results in more open rates and clicks. 
  8. The email list needs to be kept clean and up to date which would help in reducing the bounce rate. A trusted email service provider and a double opt-in subscription workflow have to be implemented which would keep the email list clean.
How To Increase Email Open Rate

[Remember: Metrics like email opens, clicks, and replies cannot predict customer behavior accurately]

You have to keep in mind that even though the above-mentioned metrics are important indicators of campaign performance, they are not completely reliable or conclusive.

Are you really wondering what makes us say this?

It is quite simple to understand.

You will never come to know what the recipient who opened the email thought about it after seeing it or going through it. That way the Open Rate hardly gave you any real insight into the recipient’s reaction.

Let’s say your click-through rate is low, but does that mean the customer will never buy your product or he is not interested in your product at all?

No, it can be that he is willing to buy your product later. You can’t really predict this possibility or you can’t conclude that your campaign was a failure. 

Without standard metrics like email open rate, clicks, and conversions you cannot gauge the performance of your campaign, but these metrics can give you a limited direction as to whether your campaign worked or not in a very broad way. These metrics however will never get you to the exact ‘buyer intent. Just because some recipient is constantly opening your email, you can’t conclude that he is really interested in your product.

The retrospective conclusion from metrics such as open rate, clicks, opt-outs, etc. won’t be the best practice for an email marketer or a sales rep. In fact, real-time communication or interaction with the prospect can be a more effective way of optimizing campaign performance.


The benchmarks you pick for your email marketing or sales outreach campaign should be tied to the goals you want to accomplish.

You might decide that you care about email open rates, or the response rate but whatever you focus on, remember that benchmarks can only provide guidelines.

The best emails will be the ones that make customers want to buy your products, so while benchmarks are helpful in measuring your progress, don’t forget to pay attention to what your customers want the most. – All-in-one cold email software that helps your growth teams to achieve sales targets quite easily. A complete suite of features and tools that make sure your email reaches the prospect’s inbox. SmartReach’s unparalleled analytics tool helps you optimize campaigns and achieve the best ROI. The human-like sending and hyper-personalization of your email intrigue more clicks and conversions.

10% Increate in Qualified Leads Per Month- with email open rates
Loved it? Spread it across!
Scroll to Top