Analyze your open rate

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Dan Forootan
Dan Forootan

E-mail marketers often spend a lot of time analyzing their bounce rates to discover delivery problems. While bounces should always be noted, not enough senders closely monitor their open rate. Bounce data does not reveal whether your messages are going to the inbox or the bulk/junk folder. Bounces also don't indicate whether your messages are being filtered — not being delivered to the inbox or the junk folder. While open data does not explicitly tell you where your messages are going, doing some simple analysis will almost guarantee useful insight.

First, do a domain breakdown of your list or mailing segment – you want to know what percentage of your list segment belongs to each domain. For example, let's say your list breakdown is 20% Yahoo, 10% AOL, 10% Hotmail, 5% each Gmail, Comcast, ATT, Verizon, Bellsouth,, MSN and 25% miscellaneous and corporate domains.

After sending your message, you look at the bounce report and you see no major blocks or delivery problems, just the typical invalid addresses and difficulty reaching a couple of corporate domains. Your mailing is not bouncing any of your high percentage domains, so you assume your deliverability is good. You are even happy with your 16% open rate.

Now, look closer at the 16% open rate. Breakdown the openers by domain – just like you did for the entire list or segment. You find that 2.5% of your openers are Yahoo, 15% are AOL, 0% Hotmail, 0% MSN, 7.5% each Gmail, Comcast, ATT, Verizon, Bellsouth,, and 37.5% miscellaneous and corporate domains. Without too much further analysis, you can see you have a major problem with Hotmail/MSN mail getting filtered, and a majority of your Yahoo mail is going to bulk.

By going to their postmaster Web sites, filling out the proper delivery issue forms, and then answering follow up questions from the ISPs, you should be able to resolve the delivery issues, bringing your 16% open rate now up to 24%. That is a 50% increase in opens.

Dan Forootan is the president of StreamSend Email Marketing.

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