Benchmarks For Email Success


How vital are industry benchmarks for open and click rates? When we asked this of other Mailchimp Partners, we found the answers varied based on the partner, the types of clients they serve and the emails they send. But if they aren’t using benchmarks, how are email professionals measuring success? The answers might surprise you.

For our clients, we find that industry benchmarks can be a great starting point for determining the health of a list, and the viability of new sources of subscribers. As an example, if your newly launched website is attracting a lot of attention, but the subscribers from that site measure far below the industry averages, it’s a sign you may need to evaluate the site, its content and where the site is being promoted to determine if you are really attracting the audience that is going to respond to your overall messages and offerings. 

However, open and clicks are not the only measurement for success. Email marketing is an important contributor to brand awareness, as well as building customer relationships and advocacy. Responses from campaigns, including replies and forwards, are a great measure for your messaging and its effectiveness with your audience. Consistently appearing in the inbox of your subscribers, even without opens, helps subscribers remember that you’re there until they are ready to purchase. Even without frequent opens, if your audience attrition rate is low, that can be an important sign of list health.

But that’s only our experience. Here are what some other email professionals think about opens, clicks and the importance of industry benchmarks...

We don't tend to pay much attention to industry benchmarks, as every client is unique, instead we audit the customer's ESP account, and focus more on their own average rates, and incrementally look to improve these over time. We also set goals for campaigns, so there's a single aim for the campaign, such as increased open rates, or sales.
Doug Dennison
CEO & Co-founder

As I mostly work on Italian projects, I have to find Italian statistics to evaluate open and click rates, so I use the annual reports released by mailing platforms that are based in Italy and mostly work on the Italian market. Anyway, as I always say to my clients, if your industry average open rate is 16% and you make 20%, this is far from satisfactory, because you still waste 80% of your effort in sending emails that nobody cares about: so you’d better work hard to clean your list, raise the quality of your content, align with your audience expectations (or look for the right audience for your content), segment your list in order to write only to the people who may be interested, find the right time to write, define your tone of voice, focus on your goal and find the KPIs that are really tied to your goals (eg. revenue generated versus vanity metrics).
Alessandra Farabegoli
Digital Strategist, Co-Founder

I use the benchmarks from MC and also do a google search for the emailing benchmarks for the specific country and industry.
Most important is to check with the older statistics for growth of the opening and click rate. Each company is different ;-)
Nick Beuzekamp
CEO and Founder

Working in New Zealand it's hard to rely on global stats as they don't tend to be applicable. However, they give us a good basis to work from and we find our response rates are generally a lot higher - smaller lists help. If they're not then we will dig into the data, find out why not and get them back on track.
Glenn Edley
Director & Email Strategist

I like to eyeball the industry benchmarks to make sure we're in alignment with the industry. But the benchmarks that matter are the account stats, opens, clicks, engagement and SALES... as long as those are trending up or staying steady I'm happy.
Amy Hall
Email Marketing Strategist and Certified Mailchimp Partner

Industry benchmarks are important for reporting to your clients. We often include the industry averages so that our clients can see that their campaigns are (hopefully) performing well above others in their industry. We also benchmark success if few people unsubscribed, if people shared or forwarded the email, and of course by how much revenue came in from that particular email.
Emily Ryan
Co-Founder and Email Strategist

We don't compare against industry benchmarks because they don't matter. Other brands have different products, different subscribers, different offers, different everything. So why compare against that? The only thing that matters is if our marketing is generating positive business results. So we identify our KPIs and establish benchmarks then constantly work to improve those.
Adam Q. Holden-Bache
Director of Email Marketing