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Explaining Email Open VS Click Rates

Participating Solution Provider

Explaining Email Open VS Click Rates

I received this excellent question from a client this morning:


“I just received an update from Constant Contact about my recent mailing. What is the difference between and ‘open’ and a ‘click’?”


Here is my answer explaining email open vs click rates:



An ‘open’ indicates that a recipient has opened the email you sent – Constant Contact delivers it, on your behalf, to the recipient’s account but the recipient can delete it or leave it sitting there in their inbox, without opening it.


An open is recorded when the recipient allows the images to download – so if they open it but have their settings so they don’t automatically allow images to be downloaded, they MAY technically see the content, without the photos, and NOT trigger an ‘open’ count.


Your open rate for an issue is the percentage of recipients who opened your email compared to how many were sent. “The percentage of opens is calculated by dividing the number of unique opens by the number of emails sent excluding the number of bounces” (CC1).


This is one of the reason’s I don’t suggest sending ‘image only’ messages – we want to have text containing the important content so if the recipient is in a corporate setting which does not allow image download or they don’t bother to download the images, they can still see the message (even if we don’t get to see the open recorded).


Constant Contact provides industry specific data on open rates based on the millions of emails they send each year on behalf of their clients – Click here to see that data.




A ‘click’ means that someone has clicked on one of the URL links in the email. In your mailing, we had a few – one to order the books and another to go to the website. Not only can we see which links were clicked but we can track WHO clicks on a link and WHEN.

“The click-through rate is the percentage of click-throughs for a particular email based on the number of contacts who actually opened the email. The click-through distribution total is merely the total of all clicks for that campaign – which is always 100%. The email industry overall reports average click through rates around 6% of emails opened. Constant Contact customers see average click through rates ranging from 7% to 27%” (CC2)


Click through tracking is why I highly recommend using teaser text in our mailings – putting a paragraph or two of content in the mailing and then having a link to ‘read more’ back on the blog. This helps us in a number of ways:


• it drives traffic back to the website – where they can surf around and learn more about you!
• it lets us know what people are interested in – say we had links to your two books, we could see which one people clicked thru on more frequently
• it lets us keep track of who is interested in what – in the example above with the two books, we could keep track of who clicked on each book and when you did a talk about the topics in the first book, we could do a special invitation to people we know were interested in that book.


The more we can learn about your community, the more specific and targeted our messages can be, leading to better conversion. This is why I try to build the content around links which will give us insights we can gather and take action on and why it is important to check your metrics and monitor your open vs click rates for each issue.


If you need help deciphering YOUR metrics, or you do not know how to set up these notifications, please give me a call at 973.275.9497 – I would be happy to help you take advantage of these valuable insights!



CC1 –

CC2 –

LisaMarie Dias
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Occasional Organizer

Re: Explaining Email Open VS Click Rates

What about auto click thrus which seem to happen as soon as the email is delivered.  We're called some of these recipient and they say they did not open the email, let alone click on any links in the email.



Participating Solution Provider

Re: Explaining Email Open VS Click Rates

Thank you Rochelle, for the excellent question. Some email interfaces allow you to always 'enable' images on future mailings. In those instances, when the email is viewed, even in the preview pane, since the images are enabled, it is recorded as an open.


I do not recommed telling clients that you have 'seen' that they have opened the mailing - they may be creeped out, feeling like 'Big Brother is watching' (a reference to the book 1984 by George Orwell for anyone who may not be familiar with the expression), Instead, you may wish to just reach out to people who have been noted as having opened the mailing, to touch base and/or to offer a special coupon or other bonus.


Good luck!


LisaMarie Dias
Sign up for my enewsletter packed with digital and social media marketing tips and hints!
Regular Visitor

Re: Explaining Email Open VS Click Rates

I am interested in knowing whether the click rate in a weekly event blast with multiple opportunities to click in the blast is counted as one click per blast no matter how many of the opportunities is clicked.  Or is it counted as one per click within the blast?  So in a blast with six items to click, if the recipient clicks six times is that counted as six or one?  My click rate has increased over the four weeks that I've been doing the blast from 13% to 34%.  What is increasing?  Number of people clicking or some people clicking more items?  Thank you.




Re: Explaining Email Open VS Click Rates

Hello @Wellesley_Neighbors,


That's a great question!  The click-rate displayed as a percentage is the percent of people who opened your email, and then clicked on at least one link.  So if someone clicks every link, they are still only counted once.  If you open up your click reporting, and see which links people are clicking, then it will show the total number of clicks, not just the unique ones.  This means that in the more detailed report, you'll often see a higher number of clicks, because it's counting all of the links that they clicked on.


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