Open rates over time

I have been thinking not just about the overall open rate of an email, but about when emails get opened.  How long after we have sent an email can we assume most people who are going to read it, will have read it?  here are two examples of two very different emails that I have sent in the last few months.

In example A emails were sent to 129,226 people at around 9:30 in the morning.  This email went to alumni and had an overall open rate of 37%

Email A

In example B emails were sent to 1,395 individuals with a particular interest marked on their record (the email was a fundraising solicitation, they were not necessarily donors to this area though, or indeed to anything).  This email had an overall open rate of 51%.

Email B

There were no geographical limiters on either email, so recipients were from all over the world (but mostly based in the UK).

The results are extremely interesting, I stopped measuring in both instances 3.5 weeks after the initial send as opens at this period, became increasingly rare.:

  • In both email A and email B, about half  (A=46%, B=51%) of all those who opened the email, opened the email that same morning
  • In both emails, around 85% (A=84%, B=86%) of all those who opened the email had opened it on the same day as it was sent.
  • Over 90% of all those who opened the email, opened it in the first two days of sending (A=91%, B=93%)
  • A week after sending the email almost everybody who was going to open it had done so (A=98% B=97%)

Both emails were sent around 9:30am and both were sent on a Thursday – this was coincidental (fitting send in around work-loads, other tasks, database upgrades) and not deliberate, but it is interesting, particularly when you consider the high percentage overall opens in the first 2.5 hours compared to the 12 hours that come later that same day from 12 noon to 12 midnight.


2 responses to “Open rates over time

  1. Do you have any thoughts on how many emails are opened, but you don’t get a report that your email has been opened. I assume the open rate is determined by the loading of an image. Some email clients don’t open images by default for privacy concerns.

    What about rates of action on the opened email, clicking on links for further information?


    • That is true – an email is “opened” when an image buried in the text (I think it appears as a little dot somewhere at the end) is downloaded, so it isn’t particularly accurate.

      We do track click-through rates too, but sadly, we cannot get a time-stamp for when these take place and the post was relating to rates over time. Interestingly though – an email I sent almost two weeks ago now is still getting people clicking on the link to make a donation!


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