open rates

3 Surprising Email Facts for Marketers


When you send email marketing campaigns, you invest time and resources in writing the perfect email, sending that email on the optimal day and time, and hours monitoring report metrics after your email is sent. Many marketers dwell on open rate statistics:

open rate is the percentage of emails that are opened compared to the total number of emails sent in a specific email campaign

1. An optimized subject line can deliver a call to action

Open rate doesn't tell the whole story. Marketers place a lot of value on the open rate of their emails - the percentage of emails that are opened. There are thousands of blogs, articles, webinars, eBooks, SlideShares and other learning tools that focus on how to improve your open rate. But open rate doesn't give a complete picture of the impact of your email.

an optimized subject line delivers a message

The whole purpose of an email subject line is to let the reader know what's in the email body, and hopefully encourage the reader to open the email. However, an optimized subject line from a reliable source can provide a call to action that gets results without the reader ever opening the email body. Consider these two subject lines:

1. Don't Miss Our Sale!

2. in-store-only: 50% off all dresses until 9pm today

In the first example, you don't have enough information to take action or make a decision. And chances are, 50% of your inbox is offering a special promotion. If you aren't looking for a sale, you may never open the email to see what the promotion is, when it expires, or how to make a purchase.

In the second subject line example, you have all the information you need to make a decision to purchase. You don't need to open the email to take action.

For a marketer, a well-written email subject line can encourage the reader to take action even though the email is never opened, and so is not reflected in the open rate.

Which scenario would you prefer: a subject line that doesn't spur any action, or a subject line that entices action without even opening the email?

2. Sender and Subject can send your email straight to Spam

69% of emails are labelled spam based solely on the subject line

69% of email recipients report email as Spam based solely on the subject line


Readers view their inbox in the flash of a second... and base their decision to delete, spam or open based on the sender name and subject line.

  • Successful marketers often take more time to craft an essential subject line that spurs the desired action, than actually writing the contents of the email
  • Personalize the sender of your email: readers prefer to receive an email from Mary at XYZco than info@xyzco

Look at your personal email habits: what emails do you send straight to spam, without even opening?

3.  Not all email opens are trackable

Your email open rate may be higher than your metrics indicate because not all email opens are trackable. Many readers have images blocked on their emails. Depending on your email provider, recipients who received and opened your emails may not be counted as 'opens' in your email reports.  Constant Contact is a major email service provider; their users' emails are not tracked as 'open' in these circumstances:

  • if it's a text-only email
  • the recipient has images blocked from displaying
  • the email's <OpenTracking/> tag was removed

Understanding the performance of you emails is critical to creating an effective email campaign that results in your desired action. Open rate and click rate statistics are metrics to help you evaluate the success of your email campaign IF you understand what data your email providers use to create email report analytics.

For More Information on Email Open Rates
Marketing Profs: Marketing Email Benchmarks: Open Rates, CTRs, Device Trends
HubSpot: What's a Good Email Open Rate & Click Rate?