What is a Good Open Rate for Email Marketing? (+ how to improve yours)

what is a good open rate for email

What is a good open rate for email? This question is always relevant for email performance metrics. Yes, open rates are still constantly on email marketers’ minds despite Apple Mail Privacy Protection slinging a monkey wrench into email analytics.

For those who don’t know, email open rates broadly refer to the percentage of your email subscribers who open your emails. (Open rate formula here)

‘Unique opens’ are more precise and valuable than ‘total opens.’ Why? 

You could have a couple of subscribers who open your email six or seven times. Great, but it’s better to focus on how many individuals are seeing your emails.

*Stat sources at end of post

What is a good email open rate generally?

  • 17% says Influencer Marketing Hub (2023)
  • 21.33% says MailChimp (2019)
  • 18% was Campaign Monitor’s count (2020)
  • 20.94% according to HubSpot (2021)

So apparently, “good” means an open rate around 20%, right? But Inbox Mailers wants your email open rates to beat average rates. And we need to look at multiple industry open rates so you have an idea of the fluctuation.

What’s a Good Open Rate for Email by Industry?

what is a good open rate for email

Some industries are tougher for email marketing than others.

The best industries for good to great open rates:

  1. Religious organizations 29.42%
  2. Education 28.44%
  3. Government 28.22%

Nearly 30% open rates→ hard to complain about. 

Though certain types of emails can top even those percentages.

  • Welcome emails see up to 91.43% open rates
  • Triggered emails enjoy 46% open rates

Network Effect emails from Inbox Mailers get up to 70% open rates. Because these emails arrive during the moments subscribers are actively reading other emails. This behavior benefits email marketing across all industries. Learn more with a free Demo.

Good Open Rate for the Toughest Industries?

  • Consulting / training 11.38%
  • Retail 11.04%
  • Automotive services 9.72%

See how ‘good’ is relative to the industry in which you’re using email marketing benchmarks?

We can speculate on why these three industries are tough to get opens. Retail – lots of inbox competition. Consulting – lacks urgency and motivation on the user’s part. Automotive – we can’t be bothered about car maintenance until something goes wrong.

Also, those industries may focus on other marketing channels outside of email. Their loss, and it shows in open rates when that’s the case.

It’s not hopeless though.

Factors that Affect Your Email Open Rate

Any business can improve its email open rates. Regardless of industry. Your auto repair shop may not get to the level of church or non-profit group emails, but the goal is to get better open rates than your competition.

Here are 5 solid factors that may be keeping your open rates low:

  1. Mediocre subject lines
  2. Content that doesn’t resonate with subscribers
  3. Low-quality lists that never get cleaned (how to clean yours here)
  4. Poor sender reputation 
  5. Sending to people who did not sign up for your emails

Quick breakdown of those. 

Great subject lines take time. But poor content in the email body will keep the next great subject line from getting another open.

Low-quality lists have fake addresses, ‘spam traps’ meant to catch spammers, and temporary email addresses. Mailing to these ‘people’ hurts your sender score (so does mailing too often to those who don’t open your emails).

Sadly, in many industries, businesses are just not aware of email marketing best practices like confirmed opt-in. Especially smaller business owners juggling lots of tasks eight days a week.

I got you. Improving open rates can happen sooner than you think. So keep reading.

Tips for Improving Your Open Rates

what is a good open rate for email

Whether you’re in finance, education, running a marketing agency, etc.,  work on these vector points and your open rates will rise.

  • Engagement
  • List segmentation
  • Personalized content

Engagement boosts open rates across all industries. 

Getting email clicks, even replies from subscribers is engagement. Which helps ensure your email avoids spam filters in the long run. 

Watch your benchmarks. See which links get clicks and lean into those. Same with subject lines with higher than average open rates→ test more of those type subject lines.

A segmented list is a list under a microscope.

A closer look reveals crucial differences in subscribers. Knowing who opens, who clicks, who lives near the water, who uses your coupons, etc. tells you how to group your email subscribers. Segmenting is how effective targeted campaigns happen! 

Personalized content gets easier the more audience data you gather. 

If you have limited data, you’re going to have to invest time into finding out more. Track down data with surveys, phone calls, and via subscribers’ social media accounts. You won’t wonder what a good open rate for email is once you understand:

  • How subscribers spend their weekends
  • Whether they prefer image- or text-heavy emails
  • How long they go between purchases

Those are just a few examples of data to help personalize emails to improve open rates.

Before we recap, let’s look at 5 more industries and what a good open rate for email is for those.

Average / Good Open Rates – 5 More Industries

After these open rates, I’ll drop 4 more tactics to lift any industry open rates past good to great.

12.73% Fitness / nutrition services

21.62% Non-profit

14.30% Professional services

15.51% Publishing

13.42% Real estate

4 More tips for ramping up email open rates:

  1. Incentivize sharing of newsletter content
  2. Improve list sign-ups at physical locations to prevent errors / typos
  3. Have a re-engagement system for readers who become inactive
  4. Take advantage of transactional emails (these naturally get good open rates)

Also, don’t focus solely on email open rates. Not only because of Apple’s email privacy challenges. But because if you ignore bounce rates, you miss the chance to remove bad email addresses. 

Same with unsubscribes. Monitor those numbers to see what is causing people to unsubscribe from your list.

What is a Good Open Rate for Email? Recap

Now you know what good open rates look like. Also what these rates can look like with some proven email tactics and a little patience. 

The main takeaway here is that if you focus on sending email campaigns only to those who gave you permission and you provide quality content and offers, your open rates will be good. Great perhaps, if you take action on all the tips above. 

Don’t have time to work on all those tactics? Need to improve your open rates fast?

what is a good open rate for email

Then I suggest giving Inbox Mailers a try – there’s no obligation. You’ll see higher open rates within days.

If not, your ESP metrics will reveal it didn’t work. But I’m betting you will be impressed with your open rate percentage increase. Not only that, you’ll be pleased with how many unengaged subscribers finally notice and open your emails once again. Demo Inbox Mailers – see the evidence for yourself. 

Open Rate Stat Sources:

  • https://influencermarketinghub.com/email-open-rates/
  • https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/average-email-open-rate-benchmark
  • https://mailchimp.com/resources/email-marketing-benchmarks/
  • https://www.campaignmonitor.com/resources/infographics/how-effective-are-welcome-emails/
  • https://snov.io/blog/email-marketing-statistics/
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John Gardner

John Gardner is an expert email marketer and co-founder of Inbox Mailers. He specializes in email segmentation and improving overall deliverability, helping top brands and businesses optimize their email marketing strategy.