2013 Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study

From opens to unsubscribes to click-throughs and beyond, email marketers love benchmarks. Of course, they aren’t the only ones obsessed with statistics — see the legions of fantasy football enthusiasts, political prognosticators and Wall Street traders, among others — but emailers have a special yen for numbers because email marketing has so many ways you can use them to measure your success.

That said, Silverpop holds that accurately gauging your marketing success requires looking beyond industry benchmarks to see whether your email program met, exceeded or fell short of your goals while adding value to the customer/prospect relationship and maximizing conversions and revenue. Used correctly, however, benchmark data can give you a baseline scorecard to help understand how far you need to travel in your performance-improvement journey.

With this study of emails sent by 2,787 brands throughout 2012, Silverpop takes the typical benchmark study to a higher level.

Deeper Benchmark Perspective

Here, you’ll find the classic list of email marketing benchmarks such as open, click and bounce rates, but with additional computations that deliver a deeper and more accurate picture of reader engagement and action on your email messages.

These include unique and gross open rates, number of opens per opener, the click-to-open rate, clicks per clicker, email message size, and complaint and unsubscribe rates. We’ll also slice the data up by industry verticals.

International Comparison

Most benchmark studies are conducted from a U.S./single-country-centric viewpoint, but we wanted to see if metrics vary among different countries. Thus, this report first looks at overall statistics and then break down those statistics by four major countries/regions: United States, Canada, EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) and APAC (Asia-Pacific).

Benchmarks Beyond “Average”

Benchmarking your progress against your competitors is a necessary step when analyzing your email program’s health, but you have to select the correct benchmarks.

In today’s hypercompetitive market, “average” has become the new bottom.

Most studies report “average” benchmarks, but being average is no longer enough. In today’s hypercompetitive marketplace, “average” has become the new bottom. Instead, we hope to encourage you to set your sights higher. If you want to be a world-class marketing organization, compare yourself to those who are doing the best on the benchmarks that are most important to you.

Thus, SilverPop presents the median benchmark along with top- and bottom-performing quartiles for each benchmark. Although averages are the most common form of reporting statistics, in many cases the median offers a more meaningful benchmark.

At the end of the report, you’ll find an appendix with more resources, including an explanation of the methodology, definitions of the terms used in this study, and links to white papers and tip sheets you can use to help improve your marketing performance.

Benchmark Yourself

This study presents a variety of key performance benchmarks for email messages sent to recipients around the world. However, this should be just the beginning for you.

One note to apply with this report: The metrics SilverPop examined are what they call “process” metrics, which measure activity on email messages. These are important measurements that help drive improvements in areas such as creative, deliverability and list hygiene, but it’s important to dig deeper. Knowing your open rate exceeds the industry average, even placing your messages among the top-performing email marketers, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re meeting your most important business goals.

Understanding where your email program stands on process metrics is one half of the benchmarking equation. The other and arguably more important half is using “output” metrics, such as revenue, leads generated, cost savings, order size or number of downloads. These measure how well your email campaign delivered against your individual company’s business goals.

Finding Highlights

According to the study, here are a handful of the key findings:

  • Overall Average Open Rate: 19.7%
  • Click-through Rate (CTR) Average: 3.6%
  • Mean Message Size: 18.3 kb
  • Hard Bounce Rates: 2.2%
  • Unsubscribes/Churn: 0.25%
  • Spam complaints: 0.07%

Download the Report

You can download the whole report from SilverPop here.

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2013 Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study
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We all hear a lot about “best practices” but it’s thoughtful analysis of research data that’s driving marketing. There’s tons of it our there, but most is buried in boilerplate or hidden behind long forms. Cometrics is here to change that.
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