The various returns from email marketing software are probably the main source of questions such as: What should I expect? What is good? and Is this bad? The most honest answer in all cases is: You tell me.
Take the open rate, a matter which concerns most people, and quite correctly. It is no good having masses on your email marketing lists if none of them can be bothered to open your emails. A return of 0% should be of concern of course but it does not necessarily mean none of your emails were opened.
Your email will contain a clever bit of code which, when requested, will give a message your email marketing software to that effect: the code was requested. This does not, however, mean that the email was opened.
With the plethora of smart phones and other electronic devices which display emails but without the pictures, the code is not requested. If all of those on your email lists view your emails on a Blackberry then a 0% can still mean that it was opened by hundreds, just not on what are known as computers.
The open rate shows a norm: your norm. It gives you something to work on. If you get an open rate of 30% then any change you make, such as in timing of the sending, the frequency, that sort of thing, which increases your open rate shows that it was an improvement, and vice versa.
Therefore, if you started with an open rate of 30% and, after experimenting you got an open rate of 31.5% then by any definition, the higher open rate is good when compared to the original. And therein lies the strength of the statistic.
You cannot tell by the bare figure whether it is excellent or poor. It is comparative.
Your email marketing software is precise, accurate and unarguable. If it shows a drop then something has changed. Your job is to find out what has upset the subscribers to your email lists. So if you want to know if your open rate is any good, tell me what the previous one was as well.