{{ searchResult.published_at | date:'d MMMM yyyy' }}

Loading ...
Loading ...

Enter a search term such as “mobile analytics” or browse our content using the filters above.


That’s not only a poor Scrabble score but we also couldn’t find any results matching “”.
Check your spelling or try broadening your search.


Sorry about this, there is a problem with our search at the moment.
Please try again later.

Despite all the data you’ve acquired from measuring your email marketing campaign – deliverability, open-rates, conversions – how do you know whether this data compares favourably with your competitors’ efforts or not?

Imagine you’re a travel company running an email campaign and your figures say you currently have a 20% open rate with a 3% click-through rate, how do you know if this is good or bad?

To the non-professional marketer the above figure seems quite low, but according to a variety of sources including MailChimp this is that particular industry’s average. 

Using our own 200 page Email Marketing Best Practice Guide I’m going to try and answer the question of what makes for good email marketing benchmarks and hopefully highlight some figures that may act as a handy reference.

Important response measures

First of all it’s important to know which metrics you should be measuring in order to determine the effectiveness of your campaign. 

These are some of the most important response measures that will be reported for an email campaign by your email service provider.

  • Bounce rate: this can be split into hard bounce rate (the recipient does not see the email due to invalid email addresses or domain failure) and soft bounce rate (the email address is valid but the recipient does not see the email because of a temporary delivery problem, inbox full, server down etc.)
  • Conversion rate: the number of ‘take-ups’ resulting from the email activity. For instance the number of completed transactions from a cart or the download of a document. 
  • Deliverability: there are two main ways in which deliverability should be measured - returned email deliverability (volume of emails sent minus the number of bounces received) and inbox deliverability (volume of emails delivered to the inbox as opposed to the spam folder or not delivered). 
  • Average unique open rate: unique opens divided by number of emails delivered. 
  • Opt-out: when a recipient unsubscribes or opts out of further communications. There’s more on this in our post on tips for managing email unsubscribes.
  • Response rate: the number of actual responses made as a result of the email campaign. 

In the planning stages of any campaign it’s vital that specific goals are considered for each one depending on its desired outcome. A conversion can mean anything from a product purchased to the downloading of a white-paper to simply directing the recipient to a new social channel. The above examples are just a small band of metrics that you can use to measure performance.

Here’s an example of a model showing the best and worst case scenarios from an email marketing campaign. Obviously this is quite optimistic.


Blowing email’s trumpet

As an email marketer you may find yourself under-recognised, as many companies fail to accurately attribute success in an increasingly multichannel world.

Email agency Alchemy Work set out to help a retailer who wanted to better understand the true contribution of its email marketing strategy. In particular the influence email has on conversions from other channels.

Alchemy Worx was able to demonstrate that even unopened emails were driving brand awareness and sales in other channels. It was also able to prove that open rates were a very poor indicator of email’s value to its business.

Here you can see that sending an email results in revenue uplift across all channels and clearly demonstrates that email engagement is not limited to conventional open and click 

The charts also show the impact of the 'nudge effect' of email on other channels. The additional revenue generated as a result of the email being received shows the brand impact of email. 

So whilst open rates for emails may have declined over the past few years as the channel has matured, this study highlights that in terms of revenue generation it’s still an absolutely vital tool. 

Email marketers however should not be relying on open or click-through rates as the sole gauge of success, but rather looking at conversions and finding a way to relate their activity to revenue generated across all online marketing channels.

Stats from third party email service providers

I’m including a few studies from a variety of email providers to highlight the differences in open-rates and click-throughs by industry.

This first lengthy list is from MailChimp. It’s based on a selection of its clients, which have at least 1,000 subscribers, with hundreds of millions of emails scanned and tracked.

Click image for the full list

This is from a 2014 survey by Sign-Up.to, it shows the average open and click through rates for UK SME campaigns. It’s fairly similar to the MailChimp study.

Finally here is Silverpop’s email marketing metrics benchmark study for 2014. There’s lots of data in the linked Pdf but here for your pleasure are the tables for unique open rates and click-through rates.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 17 June, 2014 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

686 more posts from this author

Comments (8)

Save or Cancel

Sevag Chamelian

You have mistaken Clickthrough rate with Click to Open rate in the blue/orange table. CTR is emails clicked divided by emails delivered, the figure you have shown is clicked divided by opened, which is Click to Open rate.

Click to Open rate is a better measure for email content effectiveness.
Clickthrough rate is a measure of content AND subject line/sender relevancy.

almost 3 years ago



Hmmm, I'm always sceptical when it comes to the use of industry benchmarks for evaluating your own efforts. Just look at how different the reports are: http://www.emailmarketingtipps.de/2013/10/07/forget-about-email-benchmarks/. Progress is key.

almost 3 years ago



As mobile devices are increasingly being used to check email, brands should also consider using new metrics like tap-through rate and glance-thorugh rate to measure effectiveness. http://bit.ly/1oIdZGT

almost 3 years ago


Tony Kent, Marketing Manager at Sign-Up.to

HI all, a full PDF version of the Sign-Up.to 2014 Benchmark report referenced above is available as a free download from the Sign-Up.to website at http://www.signupto.com/email-marketing-benchmarks/email-benchmark-2014/

over 2 years ago


Tim Jacquet, Senior CP at Apple Capital Group, Inc.

Great stats we have compaign in the after the Thanksgiving, I hope I get can close to these numbers. Tim Jacquet http://www.applecapitalgroup.com

5 months ago


Stacy Stone, gainranking.com at SEO

Your topic selection is very unique and informative for readers but one thing is sure, article is well written and quality too. Thanks for sharing with us your experience.

about 1 month ago


Smruthi Kilari, data miner at crayon data

very detailed article. I want to know the benchmark of email response rates for banking. If source is included, that would be very helpful

about 1 month ago


Mike Benjamin, Representative at KLonsys

Email marketing is the backbone of online business so it is very valuable. It keep looks over the response measurement system of email marketing. https://www.klonsys.com/

5 days ago

Save or Cancel

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Daily Pulse newsletter. Each weekday, you ll receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.