Email Newsletter Open Rates – and Your Mother

If you sent an email to your mother, would she open it?


(I know a good Freudian analyst for those who said no.)

That’s the point I make to clients when they question me about email newsletter open rates.

The second thing I ask is: how can you make your newsletter as relevant to your prospects and clients and your holiday plans are to your mother?


Here’s what you need to know about the open-rate stats you get from your email service provider: on their own, they’re pretty meaningless.

Now, I’m the first person to say that monitoring the stats in your business is important. I watch my Google Adwords click-through rate like a sports fanatic, for example.

But stats on their own – without understanding the context in which they sit – don’t mean a heck of a lot.

They can even be dangerous.

Email newsletter open rate is like that. You might get 10%, 20%, maybe 40%. But what does that mean? Not much, really.

Consider this:

1)    Who are you sending your newsletter to? That’s the “mother” question. Send your newsletter to a bunch of people who don’t know you and your open rate will be practically zero.

2)    Is your content relevant and interesting to your readers? Even your mother will stop opening your emails if their content is about stuff she doesn’t understand and doesn’t care about.

Start fixing these things and you’ll see your open rate start to go up.

Whatever that means.

PS. Instead of focusing on open rate, start tracking conversations started, leads generated and sales made. They’re much more relevant stats to focus on.

PPS. Open rate is a notoriously inaccurate stat anyway – the technology doesn’t really exist to track it accurately. A text email, for example, comes out at zero.