August 14th, 2012 | 2 MIN READ

Email Marketing Benchmarks: How Do You Stack Up?

Written by author_profile_images Linda Bustos

Linda is an ecommerce industry analyst and consultant specializing in conversion optimization and digital transformation.

Curious how your email marketing fares against the average email marketer? Silverpop's 2012 Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study has those figures. Check 'em out.

Open Rates

1. Unique open rate

Average: 20.1%
Top 25%: 43.7%

2. Number of opens per opener

Average: 1.79
Top 25%: 2.97

Tips from Silverpop's Loren McDonald:

  • Because open rate can be influenced by image blocking, this metric can be underreported. Track this metric over time for trending up or down.
  • Allow more time to elapse to improve the number of opens per subscriber.
  • Include educational information or contact info in addition to your offers that motivate subscribers to save your emails.

Click-Through Rates

3. Unique click-through rate

Average: 5.2%
Top 25%: 16.6%

4. Click-to-open rate

Average: 19.3%
Top 25%: 40.0%


5. Message size

Average: 15 kilobytes
Smallest 25%: 4.5 kilobytes
Largest 25%: 30.5 kilobytes

Loren's tip:

  • Message size matters on mobile phones, find the balance of having enough content to convert with small message size for fast loading

List Churn

6. Hard bounce rate

Average: 2.1%
Top 25%: 0.1%

7. Unsubscribe rate

Average: 0.31%
Top 25%: 0.02%

8. Complaint rate

Average: 0.08%
Top 25%: 0.00%

Which industries enjoy the top open rates? Consumer software (24.7%) and media and publishing (8.0% click through and 31.7% click-to-open rate) impress. Perhaps because digital goods can be upgraded or consumed immediately, and subscribers to these emails are more invested in these products and services than other retail where there are a number of similar buying options.

What to do with benchmarks?

Loren recommends using them to underscore 2 improvement strategies:

1. Identify the trouble spots. If your open rate is significantly beneath even the average, you're probably dealing with a largely inactive list. That could drive a decision to launch a re-engagement initiative or rethink your acquisition process.

2. Use the numbers to lobby for the additional budget resources you need to improve your program. Be sure to focus on the areas that have the greatest potential to help you achieve departmental or corporate goals, such as higher revenue, reduced expenses, more conversions or better customer retention.

Remember, benchmarks tell you what's average, not necessarily what's target for your industry or your program. But they can offer some insight into what's typical and motivate you to keep improving your own program.

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