What’s your ‘not opened’ rate?

15th February 2017

There’s an understandable fixation on the open rate for emails. Companies targeting existing clients may, depending on frequency of communication, messaging, quality of data etc., be happy with as little as 10%, others expect 40%.

Let’s assume the average open rate for a B2B company consistently emailing the same group of clients, with a good mix of content, is 25%. They email, say, once a week. They’re happy because, all things considered, 25% is pretty good. But, based on our research, using 25% as the average figure, the number of clients who have actually opened at least one email over a six-month period, can be about 50-60%. This makes sense because not everyone will open all the emails you send.

The problem is, many companies – even though they are adopting social media – are still reliant on emails as their primary communication tool. So, in this example, the firm is communicating at least once every six months with 60% of their clients. That’s good, but what about the other 40% – your ‘not opened’ group? You need to know who they are.

In addition to checking out who has opened your emails, which links they’ve clicked and who has unsubscribed, spend some time analysing who hasn’t opened your emails over the last 3 or 6 months. And then see if whether, over the same period, you have spoken to them, written to them or communicated in any way with them. Are they following you on Twitter for example? Or, from what you can tell, have they had no contact with you at all?

In addition to setting an average open rate target over a defined period, you need a target for your ‘not opened’ rate. If it’s currently 50%, try initially to reduce it to, say, 40%. Perhaps try saying something different, send at different times. Just target this ‘not opened’ group if you want to do some tests.

Email is quick and cheap for you, but some clients will prefer to hear from you in another way. Perhaps it’s time to write a letter or to pick up the phone…


By Mike Johnstone

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