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, 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

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Comments (18)

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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.

about 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: Progress is key.

about 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.

about 3 years ago


Tony Kent, Marketing Manager at

HI all, a full PDF version of the 2014 Benchmark report referenced above is available as a free download from the website at

about 3 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

9 months ago


Stacy Stone, 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.

5 months 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

5 months 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.

4 months ago

sam sandy

sam sandy, BDE at FuGenX Technologies LLC

Thanks for the great tips because im working out bound it will going to help me more,Thanks.

3 months ago

Flora John

Flora John, Manager at Education

My understanding is that if the html is formatted correctly, clean fonts, good contrast, descriptions for images, clear link descriptions, proper formatting, and clearly identifying the sender with a signature, then you are good.

2 months ago


sudha kiran, SEO at gupshup technology

Good to see these statistics for better understanding about email marketing response rate as most of the companies are using email as main and very effective marketing tools for their client and customers. Thanks for sharing .

about 1 month ago


Ravi Sah, Owner at Rsss Designs

Email marketing does not work for everyone but i have seen so many people getting more than 2% response rate. Thanks for sharing though :)

about 1 month ago


amirah ara, BDE at FuGenX Technologies

Yes, but email marketing is important for some online Business.

about 1 month ago


andin interiors, interior designers in chandigarh at interior designers

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


spine seo, seo at spineseo - digital marketing company

Email marketing is the part of Digital marketing and its gives the best response of the clients , thank you for sharing the blog. its so informative post.

29 days ago


sudha kiran, SEO at gupshup technology

Thanks for sharing this information

21 days ago


rajan arora, adultaffairsdating at adultaffairs

Amazing tips and its great helped him in since subject thanks for share it
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8 days ago


Faisal Ahmed, Asst. Manager at Industrial & Commercial Solutions

Excellent tips to measure your email response by focusing on bounce rate, conversion rate, deliverability, average unique open rate, opt out and response rate.

5 days ago

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