(Updated December 2017)
What is a good average email open rate? What is a good click-through rate? We get these questions all the time. The answer is: It depends. It’s like asking, “What’s a good price for a car?” So many factors go into what drives open and click-through rates within the email-marketing e-commerce industry. Here, we list some email-marketing industry benchmarks for these metrics. Plus, we suggest some areas in your email-marketing program on which to focus to help optimize your open and click-through rates.
What Are the Averages of Open and Click-through Rates?
The following recent email-marketing benchmark averages show some of the wide variations in email open and click-through rates (sometimes abbreviated as CTR) based on the particular industry and types of emails
- What is a good email open rate average? According to the IBM 2016 Email Marketing Benchmark Study, the average email open rate in the United States was 21.5%. Out of 18 industries studied, several stood out as top email-marketing open rate performers, with mean unique open rates greater than 26%: Automobiles & Transportation; Insurance; Hospitals, Healthcare & Biotech; Nonprofits, Associations & Government; and Schools & Education.
- What is a good click-through rate? In the IBM 2016 Email Marketing Benchmark Study, unique click-through rates in the United States averaged 3.3%. The following industries demonstrated the highest unique click-through rates: Computer, Hardware & Telecommunications and Nonprofits, Associations & Government.
- In the 2016 State of Email Marketing by Industry, the average open rate for all industries was 21.73% and the average click-through rate was 3.57%. The industries demonstrating the highest open rates and click-through rates were Legal Services and Nonprofits.
- In the fourth quarter of 2016, Epsilon’s quarterly analysis showed an overall open rate of 32.1% and click rate of 3.1%. Open rates for triggered emails were 50.4% higher than “business-as-usual” (BAU) emails. Plus, click rates for triggered emails were 106.3% higher than the rate for BAU emails.
List Quality Has a Major Impact on Open and Click-through Rates
Even when we can pull data that compare similar email campaigns across an industry, there are still many other factors that influence whether your email subscribers open emails, click through, and ultimately convert. These factors include:
- The quality of your email list—When it comes to email lists, quality trumps quantity. Click here for a series of questions about your current list-building strategies to help you determine whether you’re doing everything you can to create an email list of quality subscribers.
- How proactively you manage your list for inactive subscribers—Do you know how many people on your email list are “inactive” (e.g., haven’t opened an email for 6 months or more)? A large number of inactive subscribers indicates that your email content isn’t meeting the interests and needs of your target audience. In addition, an email list with a large percentage of inactive users can have a negative impact on your email deliverability. Check out this previous NewsLever feature, “5 Steps for Re-Engaging the Inactive Users on Your Email List,” for tips on how to effectively reengage inactive users, as well as ways to keep your current email subscribers opening your emails and your unsubscribe rates low.
- The extent to which new, high-quality subscribers are added to your list—A high-quality email list is key to getting the best email engagement rates and the biggest return on investment from your email-marketing campaigns. And your e-commerce opt-in forms are an important tool for getting people to give you an email address and subscribe to your email list. Click here for some opt-in form best practices to help you build a list of loyal and engaged subscribers.
- Whether you refine your email targeting by segmenting your list—All of your customers are not the same, so why send them the same email messages? By segmenting your email list, you can send content that is more personalized and relevant, as well as offers that best meet individual subscribers’ interests. Although segmentation can be based on all kinds of data, some major categories include demographic, geographic, and behavioral. Be sure to check out a recent NewsLever feature for 5 top email segmentation best practices.
Improve Your Own Open and Click-through Rates by Testing and Optimizing
The bottom line is that email marketers should focus on improving their own emailing statistics, open email rates, and click-through trends by continually split testing and optimizing such factors as:
- Subject lines and from lines—Getting subscribers to open your emails is the first step toward getting them to click through and convert. And the subject line plays a vital role in convincing people to open your emails. Click here for a cheat sheet that includes 10 tips on how to craft effective subject lines that drive opens.
- Copy, including headlines, incentives and offers—Copy is one of the main determinants of an email-marketing campaign’s success. Check out this previous NewsLever feature for 12 top tips for writing promotional email copy that will increase your open, click, and conversion rates.
- Calls to action—The call to action in a promotional email is one of the major factors that determine whether or not you “get the click.” Your calls to action should clearly and concisely communicate what you want your email subscribers to do (e.g., what action they should take). Be sure to read this FulcrumTech article for 10 great tips to help you create calls to action that increase your click-through rates and drive more conversions.
- Design, including preview pane, layout, and graphics—As you look for some easy and effective ways to boost your email campaign performance metrics, check out this article for 5 design strategies to help improve email open and click-through rates.
- Day/time sent—In addition to testing which days of the week and times of day are best for sending emails to your target audience, you also should test to optimize the email send frequency and email cadence.
Email-Marketing Education—How to Improve Your Open and Click-through Rates
So, now that you have more context, what can you do to improve your email-marketing statistics? First look at your subject lines—are they accurately telling what your email campaign or email newsletter is about? Are they using the right language and not portraying spammy messaging? Also, don’t forget that personalization often positively affects click-through rates.
In terms of your messaging, be sure to use active voice to help keep your message strong and effective. Using active voice is an important way to optimize the response to your email-marketing campaign efforts.
Next, analyze your emailing list to ensure that all of the email addresses are current. A great way to keep your client and customer information up-to-date is by reaching out to them once a quarter or every 6 months to help make sure that your messages and offers are reaching them.
Lastly, be sure that you are tracking, testing, and optimizing each email and newsletter that you create and send to your email clients and customers. By trial and error, you can best see what your customers want, which subject lines are click-worthy, and which pictures and wording really drive home your message.
The average email marketing metrics in the US according to IM 2016 Email Marketing Benchmark Study were:
- Open rate: 21.5%
- Click-through rate: 3.3%
Click here to read more about email newsletter best practices and how you can incorporate them into your next email-marketing campaign.
Need to increase your organization’s average open and click-through rates? We’ve successfully helped countless B2B and B2C companies improve their email-marketing programs to result in significant lifts in open, click-through, and conversion rates. Email us or give us a call at 215-489-9336 and we’ll get you started today!