Here’s What to Know About Open Rates, Click Rates and Bounce Rates

Jul 27, 2016

Here's What to Know About Open Rates, Click Rates and Bounce Rates We talked a couple weeks ago about “How to Improve your E-Newsletters.” Let’s continue the discussion. Let’s say you followed our advice and improved you email newsletters by making your subject lines more creative, sticking with one primary CTA and simplifying the design, for starters. How do you know if your efforts have actually improved your emails? Answer: by how your readers react. I bet you have another question now, don’t you? “How do you know how your readers react?” Here’s what you need to know about open rates, click rates and bounce rates. You need to know these things because they teach you how to read between the lines and figure out what your audience thinks about the changes you’ve made. 

Here’s What to Know About Open Rates, Click Rates and Bounce Rates

Open Rate

Your “open rate” refers to how many of your subscribers opened the email. Here’s a slightly more dense explanation from MailChimp:

The open rate is a percentage that tells you how many successfully delivered campaigns were opened by subscribers.

How the heck does MailChimp know??

To find this out, MailChimp loads a tiny, transparent image into each campaign, and counts how often the image is loaded among the delivered campaigns. The image is invisible to your subscribers.

There you have it.

If you have a strong open rate, it usually means that your email subject line really resonated with your subscribers. If you didn’t notice an increase in opens after tweaking your subject line, it’s back to the old drawing board with you.


Click Rate

Your “click rate” is the number of emails that had at least one click. Notice, that’s not how many total clicks (some readers might click more than one time in a single email) the campaign had. If you sent out 100 emails, the number of clicks required to have a 100% click rate is 100. Make sense? I’ll let MailChimp explain one more time:

The click rate is a percentage that tells you how many successfully delivered campaigns registered at least one click. 

The click rate, according to MailChimp, can also improve the reliability of the open rate.

Because open rate tracking relies on images, it isn’t 100% accurate. If a subscriber’s email client has images turned off, the tracking image won’t load, and their campaign won’t register as opened. MailChimp reduces this margin of error by factoring in click-throughs with open rates.

Since subscribers have to open a campaign to click a link inside it, we’ll consider those clicks as opens even if the tracking image didn’t load.

If you have a strong click rate, it generally means you had engaging content: your readers clicked to learn and read more.

Bounce Rate

There’s two different kinds of bounce rates: hard bounces and soft bounces.

Hard Bounces

A hard bounce means the email could not be delivered. Period. It could be because the domain doesn’t exist, because you typed the email wrong or because the receiver’s email server block the delivery. After a hard bounce, the email is removed from the list (AKA “cleaned”).

Soft Bounces

A soft bounces means that there was a temporary delivery issue. Sometimes it happens because the mailbox of the recipient is full, or because the receiver’s email server is offline or completely down. Or, sometimes it’s because your email is too large.

You’ll almost always have a couple hard and/or soft bounces in your email campaigns, especially when you have a new batch of subscribers. The important thing is to keep the rate low. What makes a low rate? Well, it depends on your industry.

The same is true for your open and click rate – a “good” rate depends on a number of factors, including industry. If you’d like to learn what a good rate looks like for your company, reach out to us. We’d love to talk to you about it.