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Are open rates declining en masse?

Something fishy has been happening in some of my clients’ Klaviyo accounts: 

Open rates have declined somewhat over the past couple of months. 

But I’ve done it on purpose. 

Here’s what I mean: 

While I don’t know what’s causing the slight decrease in open rates, I have noticed something else. A few months back, I created a couple of simple Re-Engage Flow for subscribers who seemingly haven’t opened or interacted with an email in the past several weeks. 

This flow is different from a winback or sunset campaign. It’s more of a warning that if they continue not opening, that there’s a chance we’ll automatically unsubscribe them soon. 

But here’s the thing… 

When I first launched it, we received several replies from our list saying that they have, in fact, been opening our emails. Some of these folks who Klaviyo says haven’t been opening have even been buying from emails I sent—despite Klaviyo not tracking their opens as opens. 

And it makes me wonder whether open rates are declining en masse. 

Since we got this feedback from our list, I’ve relaxed some of our segments so that more people who Klaviyo labels as “unopeners” get my emails. 

But it’s put me in a bit of a weird catch-22: 

On one hand, I want to make sure that people who are actually interested in our emails receive them. But on the other hand, Klaviyo doesn’t like when people seemingly don’t open emails (even if they do, in fact, open emails but Klaviyo can’t track it for whatever reason). 

Now, since the big Gmail and Yahoo update and even going back as far as to the iOS 14 update, open rates have been getting harder and harder to track. They’ve never been a perfect science, but their reliability has fallen off a cliff over the past year. 

And as often as I make the case that your open rates don’t matter (because they don’t), following open rate trends is important. 

Because if your open rates slip too far down, deliverability issues can happen. 

Now, for whatever reason, this problem seems exclusive to Klaviyo. My clients using other email software don’t seem to suffer from this problem — or they’re simply more (or less) accurately tracking open rates. 

At the end of the day, your revenue is all that matters. And my clients are still seeing revenue rates that are on par with previous months. 

But this open rate decline trend is something I’m aware of. 

There are a couple ways to “solve” this problem:

* Sending more targeted and segmented campaigns (like disincluding the “relaxed” segment I created to factor in for the people who are opening but Klaviyo can’t track). 

* Dedicating a few email campaigns to VIP customers only, to stay on Klaviyo’s good side. 

* Writing more clickbait subject lines that demand attention and “force” the more unengaged audiences to open it. 

* Analyzing how this trend continues over the coming weeks and months. 

I’m not mentioning all the ways to address this issue here, but this will give you a good start if you’re noticing a similar phenomenon happening with your emails. 


This is just one (of many) benefits of working with an email pro instead of leaving it up to yourself or your marketing intern who doesn’t know the first thing about email marketing outside of the HubSpot fluff article they read. 

If you need a pro to hone your strategy, keep an eye on potential risks, and maximize your revenue, hit reply, and let’s chat. 


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