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  • Writer's pictureAllison Sanders

Rise of the Machines: Man vs. Robot Email Open Rates

Updated: Aug 10, 2023

Email is an essential aspect of any digital marketing campaign. It's one of the most effective ways to connect with your target audience and drive conversions. From the inception of email marketing, the open rate has been a crucial metric to measure the success of campaigns. However, not all opens are created equal. In recent times, the increasing use of machine opens has made it vital for marketers to understand the difference between human opens and machine opens and how to track them separately in Braze.


All Opens are Not Created Equal

Machine opens are automated openings of emails by email clients, such as Apple Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) and Google Image Proxy. These clients automatically fetch and display the images in your email, making it easier for users to view them without clicking on any links. Human opens, or "Other Opens" as identified in Braze, happens when an email is opened by a human user.


The impact of machine opens on the unique open rate is significant. For example, if you have a 50% unique open rate, but 30% of those opens are machine opens, then your real open rate is only 20%. This is because machine opens do not indicate that a human user has actually seen or engaged with your email.

It's essential to track machine opens and human opens separately to gain a more accurate understanding of your campaign's performance.

By tracking machine opens and human opens separately, you can identify significant differences in your campaign's performance. For instance, if your metrics represent low human opens and high machine opens this is an indication you may have email deliverability issues. Your email may be hitting spam folders or isn’t being delivered at all. If you are reporting low machine opens and low human opens (read as lack of human engagement) your content or subject line may need some work to spark the interest of your contacts. Alternatively, high human and machine opens signify a successful email campaign with both high levels of automation and human engagement – the ideal place to be!


Tracking Opens in Braze

The best way to measure Machine and Other opens (human generated) is to leverage Braze Engagement Report with options to view trends over time and side-by-side campaign comparison.


Out of the box the exported Engagement Report includes a few fields (columns H-M), but not specific percentage metrics for machine opens or other (human) opens. Knowing what you know now about not all opens being equal, you will want to add your own metrics to the exported reports and start measuring other opens and machine open rates separately.


The easiest way to do this is to add additional columns and calculate the machine and other opens rates (ex. machine opens/deliveries) as shown in green. Based on the example below, you can see how the other and machine open rates contribute the overall unique open percentage of the campaign.

Unique open rates used to be an essential marker of success for email campaigns, indicative of their effectiveness and relevance to your audience. Now with the influx of machine opens inflating those rates exponentially, you must look beyond unique open rates in order to measure success and determine what is impacting your campaign.


Don’t forget that click-through rates can provide additional valuable insights about how your campaign is performing among the real people. Check out our earlier post “Are All Clicks Created Equal?” to gain insights into making click metrics more meaningful in Braze.



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