Email Marketing: Expectations vs. Reality

Email Marketing Statistics to Manage Expectations

People don’t care about what you have to say as much as you do.

You are an expert in your field, and you’re passionate about your craft. That’s a good thing, and it makes you successful at what you do. But when launching an email marketing campaign, you’re setting yourself up for failure if you think people are actively watching their inboxes for your content.

Clients frequently ask for benchmarks of “good” email marketing stats to see how they are measuring up. If your numbers are tracking closely with the below, you’re on track.

1. The average email marketing open rate across industries is 17.92%.

Definition: An open rate signifies the percentage of the total number of subscribers that opened an email. Arguably one of the most important metrics, open rates directly correlate with leads; because of course no one is going to know what problem you can help them and thus be compelled to action if they never actually open your communications.

Calculation: [emails opened / (emails sent – bounced emails)] x 100

Perspective: If you have 847 subscribers on your email list and have a 17.92% open rate, that means about 152 unique individuals opened the email (assuming a bounce rate of zero). This number does not account for multiple opens by the same person.

Industry Sampling: Financial Services: 18.23%, Construction, Contracting & Manufacturing: 18.74%, Real Estate, Design & Construction Activities: 18.88%.

Best & Worst: Per the study, the best day for high open rates is Thursday, and the worst day for open rates is Sunday.

2. The average click-through rate across industries is 2.69%.

Definition: A click-through rate represents the percentage of recipients who clicked on a link within an email out of all the people the email was delivered to. It represents active engagement with a message.

Calculation: (link clicks / delivered emails) x 100

Perspective: If you have 847 subscribers on your email list and have a 2.69% click-through rate, that means about 23 people clicked on a link in your email (assuming a bounce rate of zero). This number does not account for multiple clicks by the same person.

Industry Sampling: Financial Services: 2.72%, Construction, Contracting & Manufacturing: 2.8%, Real Estate, Design & Construction Activities: 3.06%.

Best & Worst: Per the study, the best day for higher click-through rates is Tuesday, and the worst day is Sunday.

3. The average unsubscribe rate across industries is 0.17%.

Definition: An unsubscribe rate is the percentage of recipients who received the email and chose to opt out of receiving further communications in the future. When a user opts out, per law they are automatically removed from active mailing lists to ensure they are not included in future email campaigns.

Calculation: (unsubscribes / delivered emails) x 100

Perspective: If you have 847 subscribers on your email list and have a 0.17% unsubscribe rate, that means about 1-2 people unsubscribe from your emails (assuming a bounce rate of zero).

Industry Sampling: Financial Services: 0.16%, Construction, Contracting & Manufacturing: 0.19%, Real Estate, Design & Construction Activities: 0.18%.

Best & Worst: Per the study, the best day for lowest unsubscribe rates is Sunday or Monday, and the worst is Wednesday.

4. The average click-to-open rate across industries is 14.10%.

Definition: A click-to-open rate is a metric that compares the number of people who opened an email to the number of people that clicked within that email. It can be a helpful indicator in measuring relevancy and context of an email within your audience.

Calculation: (link clicks / email opens) x 100

Perspective: If 485 people opened an email, and 68 people clicked on a link within that email, your average click-to-open rate is just over 14.10%.

Industry Sampling: Financial Services: 14.79%, Construction, Contracting & Manufacturing: 14.74%, Real Estate, Design & Construction Activities: 16.47%.

Best & Worst: Per the study, the best day for high click-to-open rates is Saturday, and the worst is Monday.

5. The average bounce rate across industries is 1.06%.

Definition: A bounce rate in email marketing refers to the percentage of people on your list that your email was sent to, but did not receive it. This can be attributed to an invalid email address, spam filter interference or your email was marked as spam by other people. There are two types of bounces: hard and soft. Soft bounces can occur if a recipient’s mailbox is experiencing a temporary issue, and thus a contact will not automatically be removed from a list.

Calculation: (bounced emails / sent emails) x 100

Perspective: If you have 847 subscribers on your email list and 9 of those sent emails bounced, you have a bounce rate of about 1.06%.

Industry Sampling: Financial Services: 1.30%, Construction, Contracting & Manufacturing: 1.51%, Real Estate, Design & Construction Activities: 1.08%.

Best & Worst: Per the study, the best day for low bounce rates is Monday, and the worst is Friday.

Wrap it up

While consulting existing research can provide a great starting point, the best way to truly find your secret sauce is to test and adjust for yourself.

All research should be taken with a grain of salt. There are several credible reports out there with results that vary widely from one another based on sample size, customer base, context, etc. For email marketing benchmark information from other great sources, check out:

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Email Marketing: Expectations vs. Reality

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