How to Track Open Rates for Cold Emails

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Cold emailing is a tremendously tricky promotional technique but can be highly effective if implemented correctly. The open rates you get from your campaign are very important. New marketers often fall into the trap of thinking once they get a big enough list all they have to do is send an email and watch the sales roll in.

That could not be further from the truth. You need to test, analyze, tinker, and adjust. To do all of this effectively, you need data. Before you receive any sales, you’ll first need people to see your offer. The only way they’ll see your offer is by opening your email. You want as many people opening your email as possible to increase your chance of conversions.

open rates tracking

What Is Email Open Rate?

In simple terms, it’s how many people opened your email. More accurately, it’s the percentage of people who opened your emails out of the total number sent.

The calculation to find your open rate is pretty straightforward. Just divide the number of opens by the number of emails sent and multiply by 100. For example, if you sent 10,000 emails and 1,253 were opened you would divide 1,253 by 10,000 (1253 ÷ 10,000) which equals 0.1253. Multiply that by 100 to get 12.53%. That’s your open rate. Easy, right?

Why Is Open Rate Important?

Your open rate is the very first indicator of your overall performance. If your open rate is low, it will have a negative impact on your overall success. A good open rate doesn’t guarantee conversions, but you won’t get conversions without it.

It lets you know if you’re effective at grabbing someone’s attention and making them interested in what you have to offer. Generating interest and curiosity is the backbone of any sales technique, and that’s no different with cold emailing.

With access to open rates, you’re able to test various strategies and adopt those that provide the best results.

How Do I See the Number of Opens?

Back in the old days of the internet, all you could do was wait and hope. You had no way of knowing what was going on with your email after clicking send. These days, almost every email service provider offers some sort of open tracking, or if not, there will be an available third-party software available for you to use.

Software Options

Depending on how you send your emails, there are a few options available to track your opens. A lot of you will be familiar with marketing software like Aweber and MailChimp, while some of you prefer to use an SMTP server to send your email. Let’s take a brief look at those now.


All you need to do in Aweber is log in to your dashboard and hover over the “Messages” dropdown list. Select “Campaigns” and a section will display on the page called “Campaign Stats.” Here, you can see your essential information like open rate and click rate.


MailChimp is just as straightforward as Aweber. To begin, log in to your dashboard and click on the “Reports” options. From there, simply select the campaign you wish to analyze. You’ll be presented with your stats in a neat little package for you to use as you please.


TurboSMTP is one of the top SMTP mail servers on the web today. SMTP servers are the preferred method for cold email marketers to send out email campaigns. That is because most providers are very strict with their opt-in rules, and it’s challenging to use cold emailing techniques with services like Aweber.

TurboSMTP has a highly accurate and advanced tracking system to allow you to view email opens in real-time.

How Do These Services Know That an Email Has Been Opened?

Email open rate is calculated by dividing the number of unique opens by the number of emails sent, minus the number of bounces:

First, your email must be in HTML format. A simple text email cannot be tracked. A special tracking pixel is embedded in the HTML image of each email. This pixel gets activated when the image loads. All of the required data is then sent back to your email server, including the date and time the email was opened and who opened it.

If the image did not load on the user’s side, it would still track as opened if they click a link within the email.

Issues With Open Rate Tracking

As mentioned above, the primary factor in determining if your recipient opened your email is if the HTML image loads. Some mail clients have image loading turned off by default, and some users will turn off the option themselves. When this is the case you have no way of knowing if they opened your email or not. It will display as not opened unless they click a link. That’s because a recipient cannot click a link unless they open your email first.

What Is a Good Open Rate?

Open rates vary significantly by industry and email lists. It’s best to do a bit of research yourself to see exactly what number you should be aiming to achieve.

The overall average across all different industries is between 15% and 28%. If you fall somewhere in that range, you can consider that a good start. The higher, the better. If you want to compare your open rate with others, narrow down your comparison to the average rates for your specific industry.

Even if you manage to achieve high numbers, don’t stop trying to improve. The minute you settle is when you become stagnant. Always try to push for that extra percentage point. Tracking your email open rates and other statistics is the way to go about it. And soon, you’ll see what works for your email list and what doesn’t.

Final Words

We all know the only data that’s fun to look at is sales and conversions, but open rate can be just as exciting when you realize just how closely related it is to those conversion numbers. Before you know it, you’ll be glued to the screen, anticipating your open rate to surpass your previous best.

Now that you know how to find your open rate, nothing is stopping you from reaching the next level. It’s the very first step to bigger and better things in your cold emailing journey. Take what you’ve learned here and start applying it right away. Don’t you have some emails you should be sending right about now?

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