The difference between campaign opened rate and customer engagement rate

The opened rate is one of email marketing's oldest metrics. And however email critics question the value of number of opens, we can be very clear about this: the opened rate is an absolute key insight in email campaign analytics.

But if we are digging deeper and looking into analytics on a customer level, then the opened rate per campaign becomes less relevant. In this case it's better to calculate the engagement rate.

Here's an example. Imagine you send out 4 campaigns per month, and have an average opened rate of 30%. On a campaign level that's not bad at all. But what does this tell you about the number of customers you have actually reached? Those 30% openers are not always the same people. A part of your database will have opened the email 4 times, whilst others only opened some emails, or didn't open any emails at all.

To measure your engagement rate you need to calculate the total reach first, which is the number of emails opened per email address on those 4 campaigns. This way you will get the percentage of people you have reached on those 4 campaigns.

E.g. if 20% opens the email 4 times, 15% opens the emails 3 times, 10% opens the email 2 times and 5% opened the email once, then your total reach will be 50% of your database.

Next you can use the metrics above to compare them to the number of campaigns sent.

20% of your database has an engagement rate of 100%
(4 out of 4 emails opened)

15% of your database has an engagement rate of 75%
(3 out of 4 emails opened)

10% of your database has an engagement rate of 50%
(2 out of 4 emails opened)

5% of your database has an engagement rate of 25%
(1 out of 4 emails opened)

50% of your database has an engagement rate of 0%
(0 out of 4 emails opened).

The above calculation is based upon a monthly program, but if you calculate this quarterly or yearly basis, you will get an even better insight. The cool thing is that you can also calculate this for metrics like click-through and conversion. Besides the valuable insights you have on a customer level, you are also building a neat set of segments. You have your top engagers, your high potentials, your gross mass and your non-respondents. This makes a perfect starting grid for re-activation programs, or customer delight programs.


The opened rate tells you something on how well your campaign has scored. Analyze more data to get a complete overview on how your customers engage with your newsletters. This will tell you something about your database and your entire email program.

Posted on
May 7, 2014