Your MailChimp tracking reports include open and click rates, which measures your subscribers' engagement with your subject lines and campaign content. These statistics provide key information about your email marketing, and are a great a starting point to test and improve your campaigns.

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How we calculate open and click rates

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

The click rate is a percentage that tells you how many successfully delivered campaigns registered at least one click. Your click rate reveals general trends, but isn't particularly detailed. Additional information about your subscribers, click-throughs and timing is available on your Reports page.

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.

Why open and click rates are important

Open and click rates can give you a good idea of how your campaigns are performing with a particular list. If an open rate is strong, it usually means your subject lines resonate with your audience. If your click rates are good, the message content is relevant to subscribers who open the campaign. So, how do you know if your rates are good?

Average open and click rates can vary from list to list, and differ by industry, company size, and other factors. MailChimp compiled boatloads of data into an Email Marketing Benchmarks report, which can give you an idea of how your rates stack up against similar users. Once you know where you stand, you can use MailChimp tools like A/B split Campaigns or merge tags to test and improve your email marketing.

Make time to review your reports after every campaign, consider what factors might have affected your results, and test.

How to improve open rates

A low open rate generally indicates one of these things:

  • Your subject line is not relevant or interesting enough
  • Your list is composed of a wide variety of subscribers
  • You may be sending too many or too few campaigns

Test your subject line

The best way to know what resonates with your subscribers is to try different things. An effective subject line clearly describes what's inside your campaign, but you'll want to test a few variations to find out what works best for your list.

Draft two subject lines that differ slightly, for example, "Company B Weekly Newsletter" and "This Week's News from Company B," and set them up in an A/B split Campaign. We recommend only testing one variable at a time, in this case the subject line, so that your report data is clearly linked to just one change.

Segment your list

Think about who your subscribers are, and what kind of information is most useful to them. If sales reps, store owners, and consumers all receive the same campaign, some could become frustrated by irrelevant content and stop opening your emails. You can use subscriber location, interests, or activity to segment your list, so you can send the right content to the right people. Segmentation helps you create stronger campaigns and build trust with your subscribers.

Change your send frequency

Depending on your email marketing goals, you may send campaigns ten times a day or once a quarter. If your open rate is much lower than your industry's benchmark, but you're using tested subject lines and targeting your campaigns, consider testing how often you send. In general, sending more email negatively impacts the level of engagement per campaign sent, but it's different for everyone.

How to improve click rates

Your click rate essentially tells you how many of your subscribers find your campaign content useful. To improve your click rate, you'll need to create content that's useful to more subscribers. Like open rates, you can sometimes accomplish this by targeting specific content to a smaller, segmented list.

You can also try changing your link text and testing content blocks in your campaigns.

Make links more effective

Best practice suggests avoiding the generic phrase "click here" as click-through text. Many people won't click it because it's unclear where it goes. It also leaves out important information screen readers need for disabled users, and suggests clicking a mouse, when a lot of people view their emails on a touchscreen.

Make your link text descriptive and concise, and point the click-through URL to the most relevant information available. If you're referencing a particular service, send the link directly to that service's webpage instead of your business homepage.

Embed more links

Some users have success with including multiple links to the same content in a single campaign. This is particularly helpful for campaigns with a single call to action, like "Donate now."

You could put donation buttons in a several content areas, or vary link text throughout your campaign (for example, "make a contribution" or "support us today"). Instead of having a single donation link, you will have several, which increases the odds of someone clicking—even though every link points to the same target webpage.

When in doubt, test!

Testing content with merge tags

A/B Split Campaigns can help you test a lot of things, including the actual content in your campaign. Use A/B merge tags to set up groupings of content in your campaign and see which content types or phrasing work best with your subscribers. As with all A/B Split Campaigns, MailChimp will send each version to a small portion of your list and track engagement. The one that performs better is sent automatically to the remaining part of your list.

Bottom line? Open and click rates improve when you provide the most relevant content to the most interested group of people. Make time to review your reports, and test often to get the most out of your campaigns.


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