It’s all well and good having a long list of statistics detailing your email marketing performance, but if you’ve got nothing to compare them to, how do you know how well you’re doing?

That’s where the email marketing deliverability benchmarks come in. Each year Campaign Monitor releases a mass of data so that each industry can judge how well they’re performing compared to others in their field, and by comparison to other sectors.

Why are these figures so important?

These are the figures that dictate how well your email marketing efforts are performing compared to other businesses in your industry.

The statistics should raise awareness into the areas where you’re performing well, and also those areas that require improvement.

Industry-specific benchmarks are critical because the operation of email as a marketing tool differs throughout all sectors. For example, Retail will have a completely different set of data to that of Government or Healthcare. They’re completely different entities, after all.

Comparing your email responses to the businesses in direct competition with you will offer far more insight than comparing yourself to an across-the-board average.

The face of email marketing is changing

The presentation of our email delivery has changed dramatically over the past few years and stands to keep evolving as technology continues to take significant strides forward.

What we see in our inbox has become more exciting and engaging, with dynamic images, interactive content and deeper levels of personalization. The more advanced the presentation becomes, the higher our chances of engaging with our subscribers and for longer.

What are the essential email benchmarks to monitor?

There are 5 main benchmarks that marketers consider before digging deeper into the numbers. These are used to determine engagement and application.

There are plenty of other informative benchmarks when delving into the expected and actual results of an email campaign, and when measuring them against previous efforts.

Each benchmark is a significant measure of the work you’ve carried out. Without applying benchmarks within your own testing, and pitching them against the figures throughout your industry, you can’t see where you could, or should, be performing better, and how to make necessary changes.

Email open rates

Open Rate – Every time an email was opened divided by the total number of emails sent.

Average across all industries – 17.8%

Highest open rates by industry

  1. Government: 30.5% (an increase of 10.71% from 19.79% in 2018)
  2. Nonprofit: 25.2% (an increase of 4.81% from 20.23% in 2018)
  3. Education: 23.4% (an increase of 4.5% from 18.9% in 2018)

Lowest open rates by industry

  1. Automotive and Aerospace: 12.6% (17% in 2018)
  2. Food and Beverage: 13.0% (15.48% in 2018)
  3. Retail: 13.9% (14.98% in 2018)

The open rate benchmark is the most basic, and yet one of the most important, of our metrics—this is the percentage of subscribers who open your email.

 

The main factors to affect open rates are:

  • Quality of an email’s subject line – including text, tone and length
  • Previews optimized to include preheader text
  • Sender name and email address
  • Time and day of delivery
  • Frequency of campaigns

Email click-through rates (CTR)

Click-through Rate – The number of subscribers who clicked a link within the email divided by the total number of emails sent.

Average across all industries – 2.6%

Highest click-through rates by industry

  1. Government: 4.1% (an increase of 1.06% from 3.04% in 2018)
  2. Real Estate, Design and Construction Activities: 3.6% (an increase of 0.54% from 3.06% in 2018)
  3. Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting: 3.5% (an increase of 0.16% from 3.66% in 2018)

Lowest click-through rates by industry

  1. Automotive and Aerospace: 1.2% (2.17% in 2018)
  2. Food and Beverage: 1.2% (1.69% in 2018)
  3. Consumer Packaged Goods: 1.6% (1.86% in 2018)
  4. Travel, Hospitality, and Leisure: 1.6% (2.14% in 2018)

This click-rate benchmark gives marketers an idea of the quality of the email content and how compelling its calls-to-action are. It’s a measure of how many subscribers are visiting your website and, ultimately, making conversions.

 

The main factors to affect click-through rates are:

  • Maintaining your brand voice
  • Strong segments with the most relevant content
  • Defined calls-to-action utilizing clean and clear design and copy
  • Call-to-action placement
  • Incentivized calls-to-action
  • Content that backs up the subject line

Email click-to-open rates (CTOR)

Click-to-Open Ratio – The number of subscribers who clicked a link within the email divided by the number of emails opened.

Average across all industries – 14.3%

Highest click-to-open rates by industry

  1. Real Estate, Design and Construction Activities: 17.7% (an increase of 1.23% from 16.47% in 2018)
  2. Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting: 17.1% (a drop of 0.93% from 18.03% in 2018)
  3. Media, Entertainment, and Publishing: 16.9% (a drop of 0.25% from 17.15% in 2018)

Lowest click-to-open rates by industry

  1. Food and Beverage: 8.9% (10.69% in 2018)
  2. Automotive and Aerospace: 9.8% (12.29% in 2018)
  3. Professional Services: 9.9% (12.92% in 2018)

This benchmark often measures the perceived success of an email campaign, considering the immediate response of the recipient when engaging with its content.

 

The main factors to affect click-to-open rates are:

  • Collection and utilization of the correct data for subscribers
  • Easy to access, hard to resist calls-to-action
  • Segmented and personalized data
  • Correct rendering across all devices
  • Optimized design and copy

Email unsubscribe rates

Unsubscribe Rate – Total number of people who unsubscribed divided by the total number of emails sent.

Average across all industries – 0.1%

Highest unsubscribe rates by industry

2 industry sectors shared an unsubscribe rate of 0.3%

  1. Construction, Contracting, and Manufacturing: 0.3% (0.19% in 2018)
  2. Logistics and Wholesale: 0.3% (0.2% in 2018)

Lowest unsubscribe rates by industry

5 industry sectors shared an unsubscribe rate of 0.1%

  1. Consumer Packaged Goods: 0.1% (0.12% in 2018)
  2. Food and Beverage: 0.1% (0.16% in 2018)
  3. Media, Entertainment, and Publishing: 0.1% (0.1% in 2018)
  4. Retail: 0.1% (0.12% in 2018)
  5. Travel, Hospitality, and Leisure: 0.1% (0.16% in 2018)

This important benchmark can alert marketers to the topics, subjects, email designs or templates that could lead a recipient to unsubscribe. This is a key indicator of a disinterested or dissatisfied subscriber.

 

The main factors to affect unsubscribe rates are:

  • Poor audience segmentation, delivering non-relevant emails
  • Failure to build long-term engagement
  • Poor list hygiene
  • Growth and maintenance of healthy email lists

Email bounce rate

Bounce Rate – Total number of hard or soft bounces divided by the total number of emails sent.

Average across all industries – 0.7%

Highest bounce rates by industry

  1. Construction, Contracting, and Manufacturing: 2.2% (1.51% in 2018)
  2. Real Estate, Design and Construction Activities: 1.4% (1.08% in 2018)
  3. Government: 1.3% (1.08% in 2018)

Lowest bounce rates by industry

  1. Food and beverage: 0.3% (0.64% in 2018)
  2. Consumer Packaged Goods: 0.4% (0.67% in 2018)
  3. Retail: 0.4% (0.69% in 2018)

A bounced email is one that couldn’t be delivered. Hard bounces are permanent and immediately undeliverable. Soft bounces are temporary bounces that may deliver on subsequent attempts.

Bounce rates must be kept as low as possible and are easily managed by using email verification tool like Bouncer.

 

The main factors to affect email bounce rates are:

  • Stale email lists
  • Poor data from bought-in lists
  • Failure to cleanse invalid addresses
  • Failing to provide confirmed/double opt-in systems
  • Content that looks like spam
  • Email list health

Email complaint rates

Complaint Rate – Total number of spam complaints divided by the total number of emails sent.

Not always added to or featured in the main benchmark options, but a key indicator none-the-less.

The complaint rate of your email campaign is the number of emails that recipients report as spam. The higher number of complaints received increases the chances of your email address being marked as spam by the major email service providers.

Email addresses determined as spam will find it almost impossible to reach their subscribers.

By 2018 almost all email complaint rates in the Campaign Monitor data had dropped below 0.01%. The acceptable rate is considered to be 0.1%, so all industry sectors are actively below the point to merit concern.

 

The main factors to affect complaint rates are:

  • Emails that have the appearance of spam
  • Poor design
  • Irrelevant and poorly put-together content

Email deliverability

Email deliverability is the ability to deliver emails to subscribers’ inboxes.

This is an option many marketers use to gauge the likelihood of emails being delivered against the actual data from their campaigns. It’s a form of email delivery rate.

The metric is complex because it’s dependent on so many different elements. It also makes finding an average email deliverability rate difficult to produce.

If we’re to consider the deliverability rate of emails arriving in the inbox against those that don’t, then the ideal is 100%. However, with bounce rates, spam protection and other influences, 95% is considered to be an acceptable score.

What is certain is that your email deliverability is directly linked to almost all of your benchmark data.

 

The main factors to affect email deliverability are:

  • Authentication of the sender’s email
  • Double/confirmed opt-ins
  • Sending from free domain addresses
  • Image heavy messages
  • Use of URL shorteners
  • Failing to provide an easy unsubscribe option