• beehiiv Blog
  • Posts
  • Tracking Email Open Rates in 2024: Should I Still Care?

Tracking Email Open Rates in 2024: Should I Still Care?

Why Open Rate Matters–And How To Track It

You’ve crafted the perfect newsletter.

You know it’s going to hit the spot with your subscribers.

You’ve checked and double-checked for typos – it’s all good. You send it.

“This is the one that will make the difference,” you think. And then you wait…

And you keep waiting.

What has happened to your newsletter? Who’s reading it, and in what numbers? Thankfully, there are multiple ways you can track the progress of your email long after you send it out. Let’s take a look at the most obvious and, seemingly, most effective way to know how your newsletter is performing with your readers: open rate.

If you know your email has been opened, you know it’s been read, right? Maybe.

How Accurate are Email Open Rates?

Tracking Email Open Rates in 2023: Should I Still Care?

You might have heard that Apple, with its September 2021 iOS 15 update, introduced Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) for its users. Without getting bogged down in technicalities, this means that users reading emails on Apple devices will not return reliable data on open rates. Now, not everyone uses Apple devices, but enough people do to make this a problem for creators who want to monitor their open rates.

Tracking Email Open Rates in 2023: Should I Still Care?

Even readers with non-Apple email clients, such as Gmail, Hotmail, and Outlook, will be returning skewed open rate data. Their spam filters might ‘open’ any email you send, and activate any links or images you have included in your newsletter – this includes the tiny pixel included in your message that tracks opens. You might think your message has been pored over by a loyal subscriber. The reality could be that their firewall is just doing its job before they even know they’ve received it.

Does all this mean you should disregard open rates as a valuable metric entirely? It does not. Whilst you can’t rely on the specific accuracy of any open rate report, they do provide a pretty reliable barometer for the success of your email outreach. An unread email will not perform – if it’s been opened, you have a chance.

How Do You Measure Open Rate Email?

Say you’ve sent 1,000 newsletters in a single batch. Take the number of emails that were opened and divide that number by 1,000, then multiply it by 100. There’s your open rate. If 300 of your 1,000 subscribers open your email, your open rate is 30%. That’s pretty good, congratulations!

Why Is It Difficult to Track Open Rate?

Tracking Email Open Rates in 2023: Should I Still Care?

We touched on the difficulty of tracking open rate above — privacy policies and people's natural reluctance to give too much away to marketers make it easy for individuals to put up a barrier between their habits and your software.

So what’s the point in trying? Well, there is a whole suite of options available to the committed creator to monitor their newsletter’s performance in a comprehensive and targeted way. Open rates matter, but so do click-throughs, conversions, and sales. And you can monitor the hell out of those.

Is a 30% Email Open Rate Good?

In 2023, the average open rate for all newsletters on beehiiv was 38.7%.

And this data is derived from 4.5 billion emails that were sent through beehiiv over the year.

In short, yes, 30% is a great place from which to begin, a phenomenal start. 

But what’s ‘good’ depends on the industry or niche that you’re in and what you want to achieve. The opening of the email is stage one on what could be a long journey.

If you want your subscribers to click on an ad, you’re halfway there; if you want them to sign up for a course that will cost thousands of dollars, your content has a bit more work to do.

In short, tracking open rates is a great start, but you’re going to need other tools to move the dial in your direction and capitalize on your content to make this a profitable venture.

Is a 40% Email Open Rate Good?

Well, 30% is pretty good, so what do you think?!

If you have a 40% open rate you’re beating pretty much every industry average in the Western world. Only recreation, sports & entertainment, and travel & tourism come close to reaching that average figure for opens. If you’re hitting numbers like that you’re doing very well indeed – especially if you’re not in those industries.

Can You Track Outlook Open Rate?

Of course! But it’s important to tread carefully, not just with Outlook, but with its cousins at Gmail and Hotmail et al.

Your newsletter deliverability depends on several factors, including IP reputation, domain reputation, historical reader engagement with the email sender, and specific email content.

Here at beehiiv, we largely take care of the first two of those to make sure you’re reaching each of your precious subscribers, that’s how we’re in business, after all. But your content is your career, and you need to make sure that you’re giving yourself the best shot at connecting with everyone who could benefit from your work.

If you’re consistently sending unopened messages, your emails stand less and less chance of making it to the inboxes of your most important people. To best avoid your newsletter being treated as spam, don’t send it like a spammer.

Tracking Email Open Rates in 2023: Should I Still Care?

So, if It’s Not That Accurate, Does Tracking Email Opens Really Matter?

Yes, yes it does. If your accountant can tell you the number of dollars in your bank account but is hazy on the number of cents, are they still worth listening to? They are.

When you send an email newsletter, the thing of most fundamental importance to you is that the recipient opens the email. Does that mean that your software will give you a 100% precise and accurate report of how every single individual on your list has responded to it? It does not. Does that mean that having a steer on broadly how many people have opened your email is worthless? Think about it–you need to have this information.

Is knowing your open rate the key to the success or failure of your newsletter? Well, maybe not. But it’s the gateway to understanding what works with your readers. Tracking your open rate is the first step on the journey to intimate knowledge of what your audience needs. That there will be barriers to your success is inevitable, and that there are ways around those barriers is why we’re here.

Start the next, most important part of your journey to reaching your people here at beehiiv today.

Join the conversation

or to participate.