Mr. Deliverability Blog

Demystifying Email Open Rates

If you’ve been wondering why your readers aren’t opening your emails, the answer may have less to do with Spam and more to do with your content and subscriber engagement.

There’s a big misconnection about open rates.

Some people see that their emails aren’t being opened and their response is ‘Darn it. My emails are going to spam.’

But, it’s not that simple.

Let’s begin by addressing the elephant in the room.

The real issue isn’t necessarily that your emails are going into the Spam folder. The real issue is that your subscribers aren’t opening your emails. The two don’t always go hand in hand.

Open Rate Fundamentals

What Is An Open Rate?

An open rate is the measure of how many people on your email list open any one particular email.

It’s calculated when email service providers like, GetResponse, Mailchimp and Aweber, calculate the number of emails opened divided by the number of emails sent. (Source)

If your open rates are low (low meaning below 20%, depending on your industry), you may want to dig a little deeper.

According to Hubspot, those in the B2C (business to consumer – most service-based businesses fall under this category) space have an average open rate of 30%. (Source)

If your numbers are below the average there may be cause for concern.

Troubleshoot your mysterious open rates

Why Do People Sign-Up For Your List?

To think through this you’ll want to sign up for your own list and experience getting added from the subscriber’s perspective.

  • Are they signing up for an awesome lead magnet, but your follow-up emails discuss a different topic and miss the bar?
  • Did they sign up just to get the free gift?
  • Maybe there wasn’t a gift but you can’t stand the thought of missing out on what’s coming next?

Now, take all of this information into consideration when you’re crafting your next email.

Why do they open your emails?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I great at creating click-worthy subject lines?
  • Have I built a credible reputation that garners a click whenever you enter your subscriber’s inbox?
  • Do I regularly offer sales?
  • Do I provide informative and valuable content?

When Do They Like To Open Your Emails?

The best way to figure this out is through testing. There are some tools that will collect them information for you and send it when your subscribers are most likely to open your emails. Others will allow you to resend to your unopens to improve your open rates. Both options have their benefits, but let’s focus on testing with tools that don’t have this functionality built in.

In this case, there are two approaches.

You can send your emails at varying times over the course of 60-90 days and then analyze your open rates over that time period to determine which day of the week and time of day your subscribers were more likely to open your emails.

The alternative

If you’re currently sending your emails sporadically, try to send them on a specific day, at a specific time for 1-2 months to see if the consistency helps to improve your open rates. If you don’t see a change you could try this method again with another day of the week.

Maybe They Just Aren’t That Into You

If you’ve done multiple rounds of testing and troubleshooting but your open rates haven’t improved, the hard-to-hear truth may be that your subscribers just aren’t that into you.

And, that’s ok. There are plenty of people out there who want to hear from you. You just have to get out there and find them.

If you suspect that your readers/subscribers aren’t opening your emails because they aren’t interested, try re-engaging them. You can also consult an email conversion strategist to help you re-engage your list.

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