By Joe Pulizzi published December 10, 2010

What’s an Acceptable Enewsletter Open Rate?

Enewsletter Open RateI’ve had the pleasure of working with Mitch Rouda on a number of consulting assignments over the years.  Frankly, you’d be hard pressed to find someone more knowledgeable about the publishing industry.  Mitch has worked with over 40 organizations over the past three years and gives the following advice and statistics regarding enewsletter open rates – and – how media and non-media companies can improve their results.

Open Rate Ranges

  • From a low of about 8% open rate to a high of 45% open rate.
  • The average open rates for decent enewsletters are mid- to high-teens.
  • Monthly enewsletters average in the low 20% range.
  • Daily enewsletters average in the mid-teens.

How Do I Improve My Enewsletter Open Rates?

  • List quality (the #1 factor).
  • Quality of the communication in general (appeal, brevity, relevance).
  • Subject line.
  • Frequency (the more frequent get opened less).
  • The frequency of other promotional emails going to the same list.

Average Click-through Rates (CTR)

As for click rates, typically ads in enewsletters receive about twice the clicks of ads on corresponding web sites, when measured against OPENED newsletters. So 10,000 impressions online might yield a 0.2% click rate on average (20 clicks), but 10,000 impressions in an enewsletter will yield 1,000 opens (if a 10% open rate) and then a 0.4% click rate (4 clicks).

A more relevant CTR to look at is total clicks (all ads and edit clicks combined) measured against open rate.  We like to see that number between 30 and 50%. So if 1,000 opens, there should be a total of 300 to 500 clicks. Most of the clicks will be on the content (editorial) areas.

In Summary

  • Make sure your enewsletter list is opt-in (requested by the subscriber).
  • The content needs to be relevant to the reader.
  • Editorial content wins out over advertising content.
  • Be careful of list burn (too many emails to the same list).

Thanks Mitch!

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is the Founder of Content Marketing Institute, a UBM company, the leading education and training organization for content marketing, which includes the largest in-person content marketing event in the world, Content Marketing World. Joe is the winner of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Content Council. Joe’s the author of five books, including his latest, Killing Marketing. His third book, Epic Content Marketing was named one of “Five Must Read Business Books of 2013” by Fortune Magazine. If you ever see Joe in person, he’ll be wearing orange. Follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

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  • Glenn Laudenslager

    Appreciate the aggregated stats, definitely provides some basic benchmarks to point clients in the right direction. actually took an enewlsetter i work on and made several changes over last few months — reduced frequency to monthly from bimonthly, made the content alot more concise, and suppressed inactives from the list. open rates went up more than 20%.

    • Richard Barwis

      Hi Glen,

      “Bi-Monthly” means every other month, “semi-monthly” means twice a month.

      That means you reduced the distribution from Semi-Monthly (24 times a year) to monthly (12 times a year).

      No surprise the open rate jumped.


  • Tracy

    Good stats–the emphasis on list quality is huge! Of course, it’s hard to get people to opt-in. It’s almost as if receiving an email is something they had to pay for–but I guess they do, with their time.

  • Jeff Ente

    One thing to remember is that a lot of users will click without ‘opening’. They don’t take the time to display images but read the slightly mangled version and find something to click on anyway. I publish a newsletter and about 30% of the clicks come in this fashion. A picture may be worth a thousand words but the same point in HTML can be worth even more.

  • Mark Campbell

    Does anyone have stats on what would be an ‘acceptable’ range of total clicks for newsletters that have no advertising?

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