High unique opens when sending to internal distribution lists

When sending to internal distribution lists it's common to see high Unique Opens due to a few different factors:

  • Emails coming from internal sources are more likely to be opened.
  • Emails are often forwarded to other individuals or sometimes other lists.
  • Many individuals check mail on multiple devices, so an open on their phone and on their desktop would be 2 Unique Opens.

Since it can be a shock to see greater than a 100% open rate, here are some easy ways to quickly break down the data and see exactly where your Unique Opens are coming from.


Viewing email opens over time

The Activity Distribution Graph shows all your Opens, Unique as well as Repeat, over time. While useful to help determine the best time to send mail, it's also a great tool for identifying when an email was forwarded or re-sent.


To open the graph, click Show Activity Distribution Graph on the right side of the page:


Small bumps in the graph are indications of new or renewed activity (a Friday email being opened on Monday for example) but bumps or larger spikes can also indicate that the message was forwarded on, or sent to another list:


Viewing opens on multiple devices

Mail being opened on multiple devices is a very common cause of high Unique Opens. There are also times when distribution lists can include other lists that the sender may not be aware of.

In this case, a great report to run is the Opens and Click by device type in order to see the type of devices the opens are coming from.

Navigate to Reports and select Opens and Clicks, then Device, Operating System, and Browser as subdimensions. Before running the report, click Filter By near the Save & Export button. Select Subject Line and then choose the subject of the email you're wanting the breakdown for. The data will look something like this:


In the above example, the email (which went out to a list of around 250 people) ended up generating many more opens.

The initial users who received the email opened on their mobiles as well as in Outlook 2010. Shortly thereafter the email was forwarded to people outside the initial list, who ended up opening the email in various webmail services.

This type of report can give great insight into how your emails are being accessed and helps paint a much more complete picture of where your data is coming from. 


Opens are always the result of a user opening the message. Using the two reports above can help give you more certainty about where your emails are going and how they're being accessed.


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