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Why Email Open Rate Is Dead

Syed Balkhi
Syed Balkhi
Syed Balkhi is the founder of WPBeginner, the largest free WordPress resource site. With over 10 years of experience, he’s the leading WordPress expert in the industry. You can learn more about Syed and his portfolio of companies by following him on his social media networks.

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The only constant in life is changes. And that’s true in digital marketing as much as any other area of life.

When it comes to email marketing campaigns, open rates have long been used as a way to gauge the success of an email marketing campaign.

Not only that but businesses also launch follow-up drip campaigns based on whether a person opens the email sent by the company.

However, that is about to change. And soon.

Here’s what’s different.

People are concerned about their data privacy more than ever before. With the implementation of the GDPR law a few years back, we’ve seen a number of changes in how companies collect data. Today, it’s normal to ask for permission before storing cookies, and you have to get explicit permission to send emails to your users. 

Now, major companies that provide email services like Apple and Google are taking steps to prevent third parties from collecting data.

In the following months, Apple will prevent email senders from using pixels to collect user information. The company has stated that email senders will no longer know when you open your email they’ll also mask your location. 

Apple Mail users form a significant portion of the world’s email users. And now that it has announced its new privacy features, the chances are that more people will opt to use its email services. 

The idea that email open rate as a marketing metric is dead has been around for a while. Open rates on their own don’t tell you a lot about your audience and won’t help you build better marketing campaigns. 

So, how can businesses pivot with email open rates being no longer reliable? That’s what we’ll look at in this post.

When you don’t know if people are opening your emails, you’re in the dark trying to figure out what to do. Here are some ways to increase email opens and learn more about customers even when you can’t track email open rates anymore.  

Create better headlines

When it comes to SEO and content marketing, we hear over and over again, that what matters is creating good content. Not stuffing keywords into your posts and headlines. Not getting backlinks from random sites. But good, solid content is the key to more traffic, higher search rankings, and more opened emails. 

If you want more people to open your emails, then start by crafting a great subject line. And when it comes to your blog posts, build optimized headlines that attract people. There’s a great deal of overlap when it comes to creating attractive subject lines and headlines. Here are some tips you can apply to both.

Use a subject line analyzer

A subject line analyzer will give you a score indicating how good your headline is. The higher your score, the more likely it is that people will open your email and read what you have to say. 

Such an analyzer will also give you tips on ways to make your subject lines more interesting. For example, adding power words and reducing the number of words in your title immediately create attention-grabbing subject lines. 

Always run your subject lines through an analyzer to create the best effect.

Pose a question

Subject lines where you pose a question to your audience will pique their interest. They’ll want to know the answer and will open the email to learn about it.

Mix up your email subject lines by using questions, interesting facts, powerful statements, and other means to create an urge in your audience to read more about your subject.

Offer to solve a problem

When your subject line reflects an actual problem customers face and you offer to solve it, you give people a reason to learn more about you. 

Focusing on helping people will bring engage real customers and save you time and resources in winning them over. 

Personalize your subject lines

When creating your subscription form where users opt in to your email list, create a field for their first names. So, when you send out email newsletters, you can address your subscribers by their first names in the subject line. 

This simple step helps your email stand out and your email will be more likely to be opened. 

Focus on click segmentation

Now that Apple is masking their mail users’ locations, you can’t use location and even device details as ways to personalize your email content. 

Personalization is the key to creating more sales for your business. Being able to segment your email list according to location and other aspects helps you send more relevant content that leads to better engagement. 

So, what do you do when factors like location, open rates, and other details aren’t available?

Fortunately, there are always ways for clever marketers to glean more information. One helpful way to learn more about your audience is to use click segmentation. 

Let’s start with what click segmentation is. 

Click segmentation is creating groups out of your email list based on what links they click on in your emails. By adding varied and relevant links to your email content, you’ll create opportunities to learn more about your readers. Here are a few tips to follow:

  • Link to your blog posts and useful web pages in your email. Avoid promotional links
  • Vary the links in your email body
  • Place them in different places so that users have more chances to click on them
  • Use descriptive anchor text. Avoid ‘click here’ or ‘read more here’

When you choose your links strategically, you’ll gauge your audience’s interests based on what they click on. And segmentation in this way will help you craft future email campaigns with more personalized content for your readers. 

Create better email copy

There’s another important way to make sure that your emails are opened. It’s to develop a reputation for creating good content and to consistently send content that’s informative. 

When creating emails, do so with the intention to provide value. Focus on giving first before expecting users to feel goodwill towards you. 

Do your research and answer questions that your audience asks. Get to the point quickly in your emails and make your content actionable.

It’s important to use simple language and short sentences. Break up your text into small paragraphs and little single lines stand alone. 

With better email content, your readers will look forward to hearing from you. 


It no longer makes sense to rely on email open rates as a way to tell if your content is successful or not. 

You need to build your email marketing strategies on more reliable metrics to track how well your campaigns are doing. 

We’ve looked at a few alternative ways you can create more email opens and also segment your audience for better personalization. Apply the ideas given here to improve your email marketing and grow your business in a new age of data privacy. 


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