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The value of an email that gets a 2% open rate

Last week, I sent an email in one of my client accounts that got a whopping 2% open rate. 

And I know what you’re thinking… 

“John, I know you say open rates don’t matter, but 2% is just god awful!” 

Well, here’s the thing:

While I agree that open rates are just vanity metrics, there is a massive value attached to them when you think about them backwards. 

What's that mean?

Most marketers and biz owners celebrate a high open rate. But they never celebrate a low open rate, and in my counterintuitive, yet correct opinion, low open rates are more worthy to celebrate than high open rates. 

Before you exit out of this email and hurl curses at me for having a completely contrarian (yet correct) view on this, hear me out, my brothers. 

First lemme explain why you shouldn’t celebrate high open rates:

Celebrating high open rates just confirms that you don’t think open rates are the vanity metrics I keep saying that they are. But no matter how high your open rate percentage ticks up or how much you celebrate this “feat,” the fact still remains: You can’t go to your bank and turn your opens into cash. 

But low open rates are diametrically different from high open rates because low open rates, by their very definition, aren’t vanity metrics. 

Low open rates aren’t useless like high open rates are… In fact, they’re a key metric to gauge the overall health of your list. In yesterday’s email, I explained what I did when first working with another client who had a massive list but got sub 10% open rates for every email he sent. Those sub 10% open rates aren’t vanity metrics, they’re check engine lights. 

And this also explains how I got a 2.46% open rate for an email I sent last week:

Ever since Gmail and Yahoo updated their email rules, I’ve focused a little more of my efforts on the deliverability component of email. As such, I spent last month in this client’s account creating a metric fvckton of different segments as we warmed up her new sending domain to keep the health of our list intact. 

We also moved a few thousand leads from another email platform into Klaviyo (why she had another email software instead of just using Klaviyo, I still don’t know). 

Anyway, as I sent more and more emails to these various segments, I’ve also created unengaged segments. And the email that only got a 2.46% open rate went to one of these unengaged segments. My next step is suppressing all 97.54% of folks who received the email but didn’t open it because they bring the health of the entire list down a few degrees. By suppressing them, we keep in Gmail’s and Yahoo’s good graces, enjoy better deliverability, and yes, make more moolah from all our email efforts. 

Moral of the story? 

Had I not tested this unengaged group, I wouldn't have discovered how unengaged our unengaged group truly was. These folks are also the folks most likely to hit unsubscribe (which Gmail, Yahoo, and even Klaviyo don’t particularly like) or worse, hit spam (which can tank deliverability). 

That’s the value of an email that gets a 2% open rate. 


You’ve likely never heard this before: How low open rates are wildly more important than high open rates because the typical email marketing 101 how to article the likes of HubSpot mass produces to rank higher on Google searches doesn't actually think through these issues. 

Such is the benefit of working with a bona fide professional, O my brothers. 

That’s why I recommend hitting reply if you’re not making at least 30% of your revenue from email. Not only can I help boost that percentage up to a healthy 30% (and beyond), but I can also help you nip deliverability problems like I described above in the bud before they sabotage your entire email strategy.  


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