We are often asked what are benchmark results for email marketing in terms of open rates, click rates and subsequent buy / register rates.

To keep it easy I've developed the 3-2-1 rule of thumb.

Obviously your results wil depend on the target market, proposition and so on, but as a rough 'rule of thumb' which is easy to remember, I tend to use the following:

(NB these are based on e-mailing an opted-in in-house list)

Open rates - 33% (divide/multiply by 3)

(Unique) Click rates (of those who've opened) - 20% (divide/multiply by 5)

Buy / Convert rates (of those who open) - 10% (divide/multiply by 10)

The 3-2-1 bit equates to the 33%-20%-10%.

If you compound these metrics you can work out:

- Divide total number of people on your list by 150 to get approximate number of conversions you should get.

- Multiply the number of clicks you get by 15 to work out the active list size.

This is a bit crude, I know, but it can help as actual open rates are getting harder to track (because of image blocking and so on) and also to help gauge active list members (rather than total).

What benchmarks do you use?

Ashley Friedlein

Ashley Friedlein

Published 21 August, 2006 by Ashley Friedlein @ Econsultancy

Ashley Friedlein is Founder of Econsultancy and President of Centaur Marketing. Follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (1)


Kelly Rusk, communications manager at cardcommunications

Interesting formula!

I work for a Canadian email marketing firm and we used to use benchmark reports from other companies to show our clients how their emails were doing, but found this to be flawed... All the reports we found were American, and many studies have shown Canadians have very different internet habits.

Also a lot of the reports calculated the stats differently than our ESP does and that can be a little misleading.

So we did the only thing that made sense -- we started publishing our own quarterly reports!

But my recommendation to anyone using an outside firm to do their email marketing would be to ask them what they think would be an average. Even before publishing reports it was pretty easy to determine what a client could expect based on similar clients/types of email campaigns. Of course, it's not always 100% but usually gives a good idea.

almost 12 years ago

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