Investigating decreasing open rates

A sudden drop may imply that emails are reaching the domain but not the intended recipient. This suspicion arises when the delivery rate remains normal, yet there is an abrupt decrease in the open rate. This article is about how to investigate such an issue.

We’re basing the following on case 2 from this article: good delivery rate, good bounce rate, but a sudden drop in the open rate.

A sudden drop may imply that emails are reaching the domain but not the intended recipient. This suspicion arises when the delivery rate remains normal, yet there is an abrupt decrease in the open rate. While a drop in open rate could indicate a gradual loss of recipient interest, sudden declines are typically more temporary.

If you notice a sudden drop in the open rate for one send-out, and the next send-out returns to a “normal” state, it's most likely a temporary issue that doesn't require immediate action. However, if consecutive send-outs show consistent shows declines, we recommend investigating the issue.

Given the sudden drop in the open rate, it likely occurred on one of your top domains, creating a noticeable impact. Use the domain overview and Engage’s segmentation tool to investigate the matter.

  1. Check the Delivered domain overview for an “average” send-out to use as benchmark. List the top 5 domains and the number of contacts per each domain in a spreadsheet.
  2. Go to the segmentation tool. Set the criteria Opened [benchmark send-out] and Email address ends with [top domain X]. Note the number of contacts in your spreadsheet.
  3. Repeat these steps for the affected send-out(s). If there are major differences for one specific domain, it is possible that the Inbox Service Provider (ISP) such as Gmail, Outlook, or Yahoo, is blocking you.

Once you've identified the domain, contact the ISP to present your case and request mitigation. For most ISPs, you can reach out to their postmaster address (usually postmaster@domain.xx) according to the guidelines here.

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