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Email Marketing Statistic – What is the difference between an open rate and a read rate?

Email Marketing Statistic – What is the difference between an open rate and a read rate?

Like much of the online world email marketing is highly measurable.  Each time you send an email campaign you will have a wealth of information at your fingertips from which you can fine tune and improve future performance.

One figure that will be of particular interest will be your ‘open rate’.  Now essentially this is the amount of people that open your email when they receive it, but there can be a little more than meets the eye here.

The open rate of your email is in fact the amount of people that open your email with images automatically enabled or click to enable the images on your email when opening.

This is because each email sent has a 1px X 1px square in the corner that is used to measure an email open.  If this square isn’t opened because the reader has not enabled the images on your email then it will not be registered as an open and therefore contribute to your ‘open rate’.

This means that your ‘open rate’ becomes a minimal figure rather than an absolute measure.  You can expect your ‘read rate’ (the amount of people that read your email) to be higher than your ‘open rate’ as some will be reading and viewing your content without enabling images.  As you can imagine this user is still engaging with your content and may click on links without registering as an email open.

For this reason it is always worth bearing in mind that your ‘open rate’ should be used and seen as an indicator of performance and not an exact measure.  When conducting A/B testing on subject lines it is for this reason also worth checking which email clients your recipients are using.

For example, Microsoft Outloook will default to not enable images when you send email campaigns.  For this reason if there is a disproportionate amount of users in your A segment with clients that do not enable images compared to your B segment you should factor this in to your results, particularly where testing indicates a close or massive difference in performance.

The majority of figures gained through your online marketing efforts should be used make better and more informed decisions in the future.  The open rate is no different, just be careful when using it in isolation as a specific measure.

For more information on how we can get your email marketing off the ground please give us a call or email

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