When it comes to email marketing, it’s good to stand out from the crowd.

You’re competing with more brands than you can imagine just to get seen in the inbox of your contacts. Of the over 306 billion emails sent each day, only a fraction of them ever get opened.

As a small business owner or nonprofit, you likely send multiple emails a week to your customers. But even if they open your email, how do you know they read it? And more importantly, how can you know your emails are driving real business results?

Use the tips below to measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and start communicating with your customers, not just filling their inbox.

Understanding open rate vs click rate

At the start of every new email marketing campaign, it’s important to figure out the goal of your campaign. Having certain key metrics in place allows you to check if your emails are well-received by customers. You should be tracking these email marketing metrics for every email campaign you send.

Understanding opens and clicks

Two of the most popular ways of tracking email performance are click rate and open rate. Let’s take a look at the difference between them.

Click rate

Click rate, sometimes also referred to as click-through rate is the percentage of your email recipients who actually clicked a link within your email. According to Constant Contact data, the average click rate for emails across all industries is 8.74%.

Your click report dives deeper and tracks which links were clicked, but also who clicked on the link and when.

A high click rate means the content in your email resonates with your audience. A low click rate doesn’t necessarily mean your campaign isn’t working, but minor adjustments are needed. Remember, the average click rate also varies by industry, the number of emails you send, the kind of emails you send and your target audience. Make sure your content is compelling enough for people to click.

Open rate

Email open rate is the percentage of your email recipients that open your email.

Before we dive further into open rate, it’s important to know that email open rates are becoming increasingly unreliable, regardless of which email marketing platform you’re using. In September 2021, Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection feature was released, making it possible for many of your email recipients to hide whether they had opened your email or not. SInce this feature has made email open rates unreliable, we recommend focusing on other email marketing metrics like click rate, conversion rate, orders, and total sales.

Nevertheless, you might still be curious about how open rates are calculated, so just for your information, here’s a deeper dive on what open rate means.

Open rate is calculated by dividing the number of unique opens by the number of emails sent, excluding the number of bounces. For example, 5 individuals are sent an email, 1 email bounces, and 2 individuals open the email. The open rate is calculated like this: Open rate = [Unique opens (2) / (Emails sent (5) – Emails Bounced (1))] = 1/2, or 50%

There’s also the concept of “unique opens” which is defined as the number of the distinct recipients that opened your email. If the same recipient opens your email multiple times, they still only count as one unique open. Measuring open rates shows how many of your subscribers have checked out your email. You can also track how many times a particular email has been opened by each user, and if any of them clicked the links in that email.

Tip: Even with open rates becoming unreliable, it’s still very much worth learning how to get customers to open your emails.

email marketing metrics in Constant Contact
Here’s a sample of a single email campaign-specific report in Constant Contact.

Open rate vs click rate: The bottom line

At the end of the day, ever since open rates have become unreliable, you should focus on your click rates. Clicks are also more valuable because they show added interest from your email recipient. When the click through, they are showing that not only did they read your email, but they found it interesting and relevant enough to take action!

Still, these aren’t the only indicators of optimal email performance.  Other helpful metrics to track include delivery rates, unsubscribes, conversion rate and bounces, just to name a few.

Together these metrics tell the story behind the question at the top of the page: “Are customers finding my emails relevant to them?” Knowing what works and what doesn’t helps you save time, effort, and money, so get excited about email metrics to guide your way to a successful email marketing strategy.