How MailChimp Tracks Open Rates Might Surprise You


MailChimp is one of my favorite tools on the planet, while I was a long-time fan of iContact and then Constant Contact, MailChimp has without a doubt won me over. Now I’m no expert but I am learning more and more about MailChimp and its inner-workings and today came-across a pretty interesting little nugget.

So one of the mail reasons that you use a tool like MailChimp is to better understand how many people are opening your emails, clicking on links, etc. This also means that when you see the open rate that MailChimp displays you logically conclude, “that’s my open rate.” Sorry, you’re wrong, that’s not really your open rate.


Did I just blow your mind? Okay…so let me explain. MailChimp tracks opens using a small image they embed into your emails. This image only gets activated if someone hits “Display Images” – if this doesn’t happen then MailChimp doesn’t count it as an open.

What this means is that the open rate displayed by MailChimp is really just the number of people who open your email and decide to click the “Display Images” button. Sounds confusing…it sure is. Of course since so many people use MailChimp you can still use these open rates for comparison, just know that there’s a good chance your open rate is a lot higher than you thought. Also, if you think one guy (or gal) is never opening your emails, they might be, they’re just not displaying images so MailChimp has no way to know.

Now I’m not discouraging the use of MailChimp, I still love it just as much as I did yesterday. That being said, this is good to know and will change the way I look at my open rates forever.

Morgan Linton

Morgan Linton