Why Open Rates Don’t Matter

by John McIntyre


In this episode, you’ll discover:

  • 00:18 – how you can PROFIT from defying this status quo of email marketing
  • 01:02 – the truth about marketing “gurus” and vanity metrics
  • 01:34 – one metric you can bank your business on (HINT: it’s NOT conversion rate)
  • 01:47 – the surprising reason some internet marketers can make $10 million with email – despite LOW open rates
  • 02:22 – essential questions you MUST be able to answer about your prospect
  • 02:46 – how to write parables like Jesus – and the one moral EVERY one of your emails should teach 



Download PDF transcript.

It’s John McIntyre here, the Autoresponder Guy and today I want to talk about why open rates don’t matter. This is one of those interesting things that it’s kind of like a misconception about email marketing. Open rates are a vanity metric. Now what that means is a lot of people when they first get into email marketing, they get told that open rates are important, that clicks are important, these kind of things. Open rates aren’t important and here’s why. You could be giving away some great content, really valuable stuff or using things like open loops that get people to open every single email you send. You’re going to have a really high open rate, but you could be very bad at number one is pitching or number two at serving what the market wants when it comes time to make a purchase.

You can be having some great information, but no one actually wants to buy a products because you don’t know how to position it, you don’t know how to pitch, you don’t know how to write about it in the right way. What you’re going to find is your open rates might be high and you can go and take screen shots of your Aweber account and certainly this is what gurus will do sometimes. You can take screen shots of your a web account and go, “Wow, look at this open rate, 70%, 80%.” I’ve seen this. I’ve seen this in my own emails. I’ve seen this in other people. It does not matter unless you’re in a competition to see who can get the best open rate.

What matters to us as business people, as entrepreneurs is: Are you making money? Are you generating sales? Are you making a profit? At the end of the day, the most important metric when it comes to your email marketing, it’s not open rates, it’s not clicks. These are measures of engagement. The best metric is your sales. It’s not even your conversion rate. It’s going to be your sales. You might have a low open rate. You might be down to 5%, but you could be making an absolute ton of money. I’ve heard of people doing $10 million plus and email marketing is one of the main sales drivers in their business, yet their average open rate is 5-10%.

The size of your business or the amount you make from your emails is not directly related to your open rate. Your open rate could be high, it could be low. It’s not what you should be focusing on. You should be focusing on and that’s a real question: If you’re not focusing on open rates and clicks, what should you be focusing on? You should be focusing on … Understanding your market is number one. Understand exactly what they want, the deepest problems in there. What keeps them up at night? What makes the upset? What do they get excited at? All these different things. You got to understand your prospect better than he understands himself or herself.

Then you will need to know how to translate that into a pitch. You need to know how to tell a story and good speakers, good presenters do this all the time. Guys like Jesus or we hear about them in the Bible, religious teachers, they tell stories and then they have a moral of the story and you can do this. You get the moral of the stories to buy your product. These are things you should be focusing on is understanding your market and pitching in the right way. I’m John McIntyre, the Autoresponder Guy and I’ll see you next time.

4 thoughts on “Why Open Rates Don’t Matter”

  1. I’ve got to disagree with you bro. I think you were trying to stick too closely to your headline.

    Open rates can be vanity metrics to people who blog and don’t sell anything, but they aren’t vanity metrics to real businesses. Also, even if you don’t have anything to sell in a particular email, open rates may well be useful to your long term goals.

    On your point of saying that making a sale is the most important thing, let’s assume this is true, then if you make $100 from a 10% open rate then it is entirely possible to make $200 from a 20% open rate and $300 from a 30% open rate and so on.

    If you’re selling something then working to increase your click-through rate and your open rate is critical to your business growth and long term success. They are not vanity metrics to a business.

    If someone can make millions from a 5-10% open rate shouldn’t he work to increase the open rate so that more people see his product?

    • Tim, appreciate the insight.

      My goal was to challenge the idea that open rates are as important as everyone thinks. In *most* cases, they don’t matter.

      Open rates typically don’t correlate to sales.

      I’ve seen open rates increase while sales go down, and vice versa.

      What would you rather have – more sales or a higher open rate?

      I’d rather worry about the sales and let the open rate take care of itself.

      • Gonna have to razz you a bit.

        Open rates correlate to sales, but do not cause them. If you have zero opens then you’ll have zero sales. If you have 10 opens then you’ll max out at 10 possible sales.

        (Obviously not all opens get tracked. I’ve simplified the numbers to illustrate the point that open rates do correlate with sales.)

        Just because it is possible for open rates to go up and sales to go down doesn’t mean a business owner should let it take care of itself.

        The question of more sales or a higher open rate is a false dichotomy. In the vast majority of cases for a sales email, the higher the open rate the higher the click throughs and ultimately the higher the sales.

        Tons of variables play into the success of an email and they all have an impact to some degree. Sometimes a single variable will have an outlier effect such as a single word being changed in the headline, but most times the variables work together over time to make a marketing system profitable for a business.

        I know the point you were making in the video. I just think you should have said, “And this is where and when open rates matter.”

        I’ve been giving you some shit, but just want to say I like what you’re doing.

        • Tim, you know I love a bit of razz!

          Points taken.

          Personally, I don’t worry about open rates at all and it works for me. My open rate is consistently around 30%. It’s actually been increasing over the last 6 months as I get better a penning a killer email. This strategy works for me.

          So yeah, it’s not that open rates don’t matter. It’s just that – IMO – for the small business owner (and the person most likely to be on this website) there are more important things to focus on… UNLESS you have a big list (at which point, a small change in open rate can mean a large change in sales – but then again, someone who has the skill to build a big list probably won’t need me to tell them what to do).


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