Granted, not everyone who receives your email will open them.
But what percentage of email opens is considered good for your eCommerce business?
In addition to this crucial question, this post will also answer:
Let’s jump in, shall we?
1. How to Calculate Open Rates for Your eCommerce Emails
To calculate your open rates across a single eCommerce email you sent, simply divide the number of opened emails by the total emails delivered and multiply the result by 100.
To put it simply:
(number of unique opens/ number of recipients) x 100 = Your open rate
When calculating open rates across multiple campaigns, it gets a bit more complex.
First, you’d have to get the open rates for the individual campaigns and add them all together.
Then, divide that number by the number of campaigns you’d like to account for.
So to calculate the average open rate across three campaigns, for example:
(Campaign A + Campaign B + Campaign C) / Total number of campaigns.
If the open rates for each of these campaigns were 20%, 25% and 32% respectively, it would be (20 + 25 + 32)/3 bringing the average to 25.6%
2. What is Considered a Good Open Rate for eCommerce Emails?
Generally, a good email open can range from a minimum of 17 - 28%.
But there are industry benchmarks that help set more realistic goals.
eCommerce has some of the highest open rates by industry. The average open rate for eCommerce emails is 36.59%.
For open rates between 31 -37% to meet the industry benchmark, you may need to relook at your email strategy.
3. Factors that Influence Your eCommerce Email Open Rates
69.11% of eCommerce emails sent aren’t opened.
What we call the STERN factors determine whether your next emails will be a part of that statistic or not.
Broken down, STERN means:
T— Timing; sending emails when subscribers are likely to be active on their devices will significantly increase your open rates.
E— Email List Quality; are you emailing people who truly want your messages? How many invalid, duplicates and unengaged email addresses are on your list?
R— Relevance; how relevant subscribers find your email content directly impacts open rates.
N— Number of emails; too many emails will get your emails marked spam. Are you sending an ideal number of emails to your list?
So, are your emails STERN enough to get great open rates?
4. How to Improve Email Open Rates in eCommerce
You will get one thousand and one suggestions out there on how to increase eCommerce email open rates. But here are the proven ones:
a. A subject line that screams “You need to see this!”
You know that sense of urgency and curiosity that picks you when that one friend screams your name from afar and says “You need to see this”?
That’s exactly how your email subject line should make your subscribers feel.
There are a few ways to achieve that feeling with your subject line.
Make them chuckle
A witty subject line means their day is about to be brightened up.
It’s also a great way to stand out from all the other hundreds of emails hitting their inbox.
The example below uses the easter holidays and the easter bunny to create a witty subject line encouraging the reader to take action immediately.
A note of caution: Like creating jokes, you have to make sure you keep it simple. If you go overboard, you can come off as distasteful.
Be a little alarming
Alarming in this context means sharing an unexpected subject line.
It’s like creating hype but in an unconventional way.
For example, you can use a subject line that says “Claire, you need to see this asap”.
It immediately makes your subscribers curious.
The downside to this type of subject line is that you have to actually give them an email worth seeing.
Be sure that your content matches the hype. Else, they won’t fall for it next time.
Make them feel special
Humans love special treatment.
So, make it all about them!
This means ditching the generic subject lines like “March product recommendations” for a subject like “March product recommendations you’ll love”
Make them feel special through the subject line.
The hero cosmetics example below lets the subscriber know that they get first dibs on new stock.
Aside from wanting to see what’s in stock, they’ll be more inclined to engage with the email immediately before someone else gets access to it.
b. A consistent schedule for more opens
If you have a friend that sends you a morning text every day, subconsciously, you start to look forward to that text.
And when they forget to send that text one day, you worry that something might be wrong. It’s the same with your emails.
Having a set day of the week and time makes your emails consistent.
But first, you need to hack what day and time works best for your emails.
A survey of 300 U.S marketers showed that the highest opens for promotional emails were between 9 am to 3 pm on weekdays.
Especially during lunch break.
Here’s a tip: Run a test with different send times for the first month
Once you’ve hacked the time with the best performance, stick to it.
Over time, your subscribers will look forward to receiving your next email and the one after that.
c. A subject line and preheader that makes them worry about missing out
Have you ever purchased an item you didn’t really need because it was ridiculously cheap or close to being out of stock?
67% of consumers make unplanned purchases solely because of a discount. Why? Because they didn’t want to miss out.
Once your subscribers feel like they have to make a decision immediately, they will take immediate action.
However, you need to prompt them with the right subject line.
This means your subject line should sell and not summarize what you’re giving out.
Use action words to promote scarcity and urgency. Take a look at this subject line from Shein:
You should also use email preheaders to your advantage.
For our example, instead of using a passive preheader like “get the best deals on summer clothing” use something like “Hurry before summer wears go out of stock”.
One summarizes and the other sells—complementing the subject line.
d. Shoppers love to open "simple" emails
HTML emails are visually appealing, but do they help your deliverability and opens?
Research has shown that plain-text emails perform better than their counterparts.
For example, research showed that HTML email templates reduce your opens by 25%
Here’s why this happens.
Spam filters tend to pick up these heavily embedded emails because they see them as commercial.
This means the more GIFs and designs you add to your email, the higher the chances that they'll land in junk or spam.
In fact, Google doesn’t show images from an unknown sender which is why the header and button of this brand didn’t display. Of course, it landed in spam folder.
Keeping it simple makes your emails more authentic.
So why complicate them? Spam filters know that plain emails usually come from a legitimate sender and users also prefer these types of emails.
e. Content that proves that your emails are meant for them
If you sign up at a clothing store to shop in the men’s section, imagine how surprised you’d be when you get an email about shopping for babies.
It’ll be an even bigger reaction if you don’t have any kids.
This is why email segmentation is important because segmented email campaigns have 14.31% more opens than non-segmented campaigns.
Your subscribers should only get emails about what they signed up for.
When we subscribed to this eCommerce store’s mailing list, we were only really curious about the welcome gift. They got the memo and sent it in the next email.
Now while they did add other information they think I’d be interested in, the welcome present was the central CTA on this email.
But here’s an even bigger catch—it was personalized to the PJs section I was browsing.
So create segments for your subscribers based on their interests. If they want men’s clothing, send emails about men’s clothing.
f. Use behavior-targeting for a better open rate
What’s better than sending emails based on interest segments? Sending based on recent behaviors. It’s personalization at its peak.
Companies that get personalization right have the potential to generate 40% more revenue which is why you shouldn't leave personalization to just the body of your email.
From the notification they get, your subscribers should know that the email isn’t another mass promotional email.
We tried to purchase a particular flavor from a cake shop and it was out of stock. A few days later, we got this email saying it was back in stock.
That’s how to send personalized messages—ensure your offers or recommendations are exclusive to the recipient.
g. Get rid of dead weights
Email marketing databases degrade by 22.5% every year so you need to clean up these contacts to see an improvement in your eCommerce email open rates.
Here are a few ways to ensure you have a healthy database:
Reduce the chances of them getting in with the wrong email
Many enter the wrong email due to typographical errors or to skip a step. Add a verification block like a double opt-in to ensure that from the get-go, you’re getting the correct emails only.
Take out the duplicates
If you keep getting emails from the same sender twice, you’ll lose interest faster. So use your email marketing tool to search for any duplicates and merge them.
Bounce the bounced
Hard bounces affect not only your open rates but also your deliverability rate.
So frequently remove these hard bounces from your email list.
Also, make your unsubscribe button easy to find so people no longer interested in your content can leave your mailing list.
h. Double opt-in is always worth it, we promise
We know! You think you will lose lots of potential subscribers if you ask them to go through double opt-ins but it’s always worth it at the end. Have you ever put in a fake email address to get a free resource?
It’s why you need to use double opt-ins. You will get subscribers who are highly interested in getting your emails.
When they are interested, your open rates will definitely go up.
Since single opt-ins only require minimum effort, your subscribers might not really be interested in your content. So while the initial metrics you get might be good, they won’t record high conversions in the longer run.
You also run the risk of getting incorrect or inactive emails. This means that you’ll need to clean your email list a lot more frequently.
Double opt-ins verify emails so you’re sure of active contacts in your database. Here’s an example of what it looks like;
To set it up, simply use your email marketing tool. In the subscription settings section, you should be able to turn it on.
That way, before they are recorded in the database or email list, they’ll have to use a verification link sent to that email.
Check out: 5 awesome GDPR compliant email opt-in ideas
i. Leave a striking impression always
At the end of the day, if your content gets boring, your open rates will dip. This is why you should always strive to impress your subscribers with your content.
Think about how you make their experience with reading your content an unforgettable one.
Be creative in your copy and message. It doesn’t always have to be boring as even mundane topics like discounts can be interesting if you make it so.
Here’s one I got from an eCommerce brand recently. The subject line was so unique and the copy told a story even if it was just a discount email.
Consider having your own brand’s personality and distinct tone. Here’s another example from Funboy. The brand focuses on being fun and the tone conveys just that.
You can always work with your branding team to figure out what this should be. Just ensure that it’s a personality your subscribers can relate to.
5. Subject Lines that Can Boost Your Open Rates (+Great Examples)
Creating subject lines requires a ton of creativity. So, here are a few great examples that’ll inspire you to come up with a great line for your next eCommerce email.
a. Making the most out of holidays
Holidays are the best time to rack up sales for your store. This is why AllTrails nudges its subscribers to step out in their products for pride month.
Instead of making it another discount sale like most stores, they used this email subject to remind subscribers about the very essence of pride month and force them into taking action.
b. Mystery makes people want to open their emails
Your subscribers need to know how good your products are. But, you need to make them WANT to know what the benefits are. This is why we love Onnit’s subject line below.
Does coconut oil clog your heart? Does it make it better? We don’t know. All we know is that we’ll definitely be opening this email to find out.
c. The unconventional sales line
8 in 10 eCommerce stores already use email subject lines like “Get 20% off on xx today” or “Free serum on all orders”.
While it works, there’s a better way to promote freebies and discounts in your store.
Selfmade shows us how to do this with their subject line below:
The first part of the subject line creates some sort of FOMO on what’s trending and the second part builds on the already budding gist— there’s free serum.
Subscribers would definitely be opening this email to find out how they can get theirs.
d. Using their favorite celebrity never fails
Let’s face it, people are influenced by the celebrities they love. Why not use that to your advantage? Although this brand is owned by Lady Gaga, this subject line sells her look.
Since users subscribed to this mailing list are already her fans, the subject line lets you know that you can look exactly like her which is why it works.
So if you have a partnership or an influencer working with your brand, this is a great way to boost your open rates.
e. Don’t just sell—also teach
Your email doesn’t have to be all about selling your products. You could also offer helpful guides that’ll educate your users. Since that’s not very common, it brings in tremendous results.
This example from Rep Fitness asks a question their subscribers have already thought of multiple times. Naturally, the user would want to find out the answer and that bumps up their open rates.
When using this type of subject line, be sure to keep it segmented. Because if I’m not interested in a bench press, I wouldn’t be interested in benches.
6. What is a Click-to-Open Rate (CTOR)?
Your CTOR which is short for click-to-open rate is the ratio between the number of email opens vs the number of link clicks.
It’s a great way to measure your email engagement because it provides insights into how effective your overall email messaging is.
So if you have a high open rate and a low CTOR, it tells you that you need to work on the body of your email. However, if your CTOR is significantly high, you might need to work on improving your subject line.
7. What is the Average CTOR for eCommerce Emails?
In 2021, the average CTOR for all industries was 10.5%. However, industry benchmarks are what you need to target when improving your overall CTOR.
Ideally, the average CTOR for eCommerce emails is at 7.16%.
8. What is Considered a Good CTOR for eCommerce Emails
A good CTOR for eCommerce emails is one that is close to the industry benchmark.
This is why we recommend keeping your click-to-open rates anywhere between 7% - 9% to get the best returns on your email marketing investment.
Other eCommerce Email Marketing Benchmarks to Track
Your email open rates are just one step towards conversion. You need to also work towards improving these other engagement rates;
Click-through rate (CTR)
Often mistaken for click-to-open rates, click rates are the ratio between emails delivered and the number of links clicked in an email campaign. The average number of overall clicks an eCommerce email campaign receives is 2.62%
Bounce rates in emails refer to the number of people who didn’t receive your email because it was ‘bounced’ by their email server. For eCommerce emails, the average bounce rates are 0.30%. So you want to keep yours even less than this figure.
An unsubscribe rate measures the number of subscribers who opt out of receiving your emails. The average unsubscribe rate for eCommerce emails is 0.29%. Again, maintaining a healthy email list will help you keep this number low.
Transform Email Marketing Into A Revenue Machine
Most eCommerce store owners don’t see email as a serious revenue stream.
Ask them about the importance of email marketing, and you'll hear: “we don’t really have a major strategy,” “we mostly use generic templates,” or “we just send emails to people on our list.”
BUT AT THE SAME TIME:
There are stores out there that drive 30%+ of their revenue from email marketing.
Engage can help you do the same - Book a free demo.
We’ll show you:
- workflows we can create for your store,
- proven ways to drive 30% or more $$ from email alone, and
- successful templates and strategies from your industry (and others).
**This post was written by Moses, a digital entrepreneur who geeks out on online marketing and writes about it for B2B SaaS companies that appreciates blog content borne out of hands-on experience.