Email Performance Benchmarks

Email Performance Benchmarks

Email marketing is an essential component of B2B marketing, but its use can be somewhat confusing if you’re not familiar with the standards used to measure its success. Before hitting the send button, it’s wise to understand email performance benchmarks and ensure you’re able to measure and benefit from them.

Email Performance Benchmarks: Open Rates

Source: eMarketer, Q4 2016

Email Performance Benchmarks – Open Rates

Open rates are considered top-of-funnel metrics since they are a trigger for other conversion metrics. Total Open Rate
The total open rate is the ratio of all opens recorded for the mailing, including multiple opens by the same subscriber, to all emails received. Unique Open Rate
The ratio of the number of unique subscribers that have opened an HTML-formatted message to the number of emails received.

As an email performance metric, open rates can be misleading. That’s because they are inflated by “false opens” that occur as recipients move from one email to another in their inbox without actually opening and reading the emails. Clicking on an email, even for a second, requests an invisible tracking pixel from the email server, which then counts the email as an open even it isn’t read.

Email benchmarks like open rates are also affected by deliverability. You can’t open an email that isn’t delivered. (More information here.)

Because of false opens and potential deliverability issues, it’s best not to interpret open rates literally. Use them as a way to measure your campaigns against an industry benchmark with the understanding that the actual open rate could be much lower.

Since Q1 of 2014, total open rates have increased by 8.5 percent, while unique open rates remain relatively unchanged. Two reports offer some insight for this.

A Return Path report found that email messages opened on a mobile device have nearly doubled over the past five years. During the same period, email opens on an Internet browser and desktop client have decreased by 26 percent and 53 percent, respectively.

Research from Campaign Monitor found that 23 percent of people who open emails on a mobile device open the campaign for a second time on a different device.

The combined effect of these actions suggests the increase in total open rates could be related to the growth of mobile device usage.

Email Performance Benchmarks: Clicks

Source: eMarketer, Q4 2016

Email Performance Benchmarks – Click-Through Rates

Clicks are considered middle-of-funnel metrics since they connect open rates to transactions.

buy nolvadex online reviews Click-to-Open Rate
Unique clicks as a percentage of unique opens. This number tends to be larger than other click-based rates since its denominator (unique opens) is a smaller number.

Total Click Rate
The ratio of all clicks on a tracked link, including multiple clicks by a given subscriber, to all emails received.

Unique Click Rate
The ratio of the number of unique subscribers who have clicked on any link to all emails received.

The data suggest all click-through rates are declining. Again, the growth of mobile device usage, along with how recipients handle email on different devices, may be the cause.

Email Performance Benchmarks: Transactions

Source: eMarketer, Q4 2016

Email Performance Benchmarks – Transaction Rates
Transaction rates are considered bottom-of-funnel metrics since they measure the ultimate goal of email campaigns.

Transaction-To-Click Rate
The percentage of transactions compared to the number of unique clicks.

Transaction Rate
The percentage of transactions as related to delivered messages.

While the transaction-to-click rate is increasing slightly, the transaction rate is declining. The transaction rate is related to deliverability. When deliverability increases and transactions don’t, the transaction rate will decline.

Email Performance Benchmarks: Delivery

Source: eMarketer, Q4 2016

Email Performance Benchmarks – Delivery Rates

Delivery rates measure the quality of an email list.

Hard Bounce Rate
The percentage of subscribers that did not receive a mailing because their email addresses is invalid.  A hard bounce might occur because the domain name doesn’t exist or because the recipient is unknown.

Unsubscribe Rate
The total percentage of subscribers lost as a result of users removal from an email list.

Both the hard bounce and unsubscribe rates have declined since 2014 but may be on the rise again. These metrics suggest that quality of lists and/or the quality of emails have improved, resulting in better delivery and happier subscribers.

It’s important to note that email “delivery” and “deliverability” are different terms.  You’ll find more information here.

Factors Affecting Email Performance

Of course, email performance will vary based on a variety of factors, including creative, visuals, industry, the day of the week, time of day, type of message, use of personalization and subject line length. To ensure your getting the most from your email marketing campaigns, here are a few additional resources.



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