Industry Benchmarks: Gain Insight with these 4 Variables

Email marketing has dramatically evolved in the last decade with the advent of personalized content, to personalized campaigns, to personalized multi-channel EXPERIENCES. With this evolution, the question arises… after all of our efforts, how are we doing?

  • How do we measure up against our peers?
  • Are our open rates high enough?
  • Are our unsubscribe rates low enough?

How do we compare to *slams hand on the buzzer* industry benchmarks! But before you answer that, there are variables to be considered:

  • How does this email platform define their industry benchmarks?
  • Which industry does my company fall into according to this email platform?
  • Does this email platform’s industry benchmarks take into account Mail Privacy Protection? (The Day Our Lives Forever Changed! September 20, 2021).

In my experience having to answer, “How are we doing?” for a handful of for-profit companies in different industries, I’ve come to these conclusions that have brought me peace of mind (and hopefully will offer some to you as well).

Not All Benchmarks are Created Equal

Take for example the Open Rate. On one hand, CampaignMonitor defines open rate as “a measure of how many recipients open the email compared to the total number of emails delivered” Source. On the other hand, Marketo defines open rate as “the number of opens / number of leads delivered” Source. Keep this in mind when you are searching for benchmarks to compare yourself against. How does my source define the metric? Is it the same way I do?

There are Other Metrics to Consider…

Main stakeholders want black-and-white answers. Are our benchmarks where they should be? Yes or No. How do we measure against industry benchmarks? Good or Bad. Email metrics can tell us one narrative, but there are others to consider in a much bigger picture with just as much value.

  • How active is our database? How many contacts have taken at least 1 tracked action within the last 3 months?
  • How inactive is our database? How many contacts haven’t taken any action in the last year?
  • What is our best weekday and time frame to send emails out? When is our audience most engaged?
  • How much of our database is filled with spam or test contact records?
  • Has our bounceback rate decreased year-over-year?
  • What is our sender reputation score?
  • What are our soft bounceback error messages telling us about our audience?

Main stakeholders will want to know open, click, and unsubscribe rates. That’s a given. But also show them what your email marketing efforts look like from an even higher holistic point of view.

Are Industry Benchmarks Really That Different From Each Other?

In looking at MailChimp’s Email Marketing Statistics & Benchmarks, for the most part- the general average hard bounce rate is mainly between 0.20 – 0.40%, average unsubscribe rate is 0.15 – 0.30%, and average open rate is between 15 – 25%. There are rates on the higher and lower ends, but the bulk majority fall into this range. Consider: are they that different from each other?

To cut through the noise and come up with a standard I can measure up against, I research at least five different industry benchmark reports from five different reputable sources. You can always count on Mailchimp, CampaignMonitor, HubSpot, and ConstantContact to post their industry benchmarks every year. I take all of their numbers and I find the average across the board. Those averages are what I used as points of comparison. It represents an average of what various email platforms are reporting across the board and gives me an idea or range I should be set within.

At The End of the Day, I Am My Biggest Competition

My #1 advice is to compare your business to your business year-over-year. Don’t think about how others are doing, think about how you’re doing.

  • Did you perform better than last year? Or better than pre-pandemic?
  • Did one quarter perform better than another?
  • How did our Transactional emails do? Was there more engagement than our Promotional emails?

Landscapes will change. Technology will shift. MarTech will evolve. When all is said and done, what impact do those changes have on your email marketing campaigns and how does the data shape your go-forward strategy?

With research, reporting needs, comparisons, and Excel formulas, it can easily take a few hours to come up with your own benchmarks. Luckily, we’re here to help! If you want us to help review industry benchmarks with you, create benchmarks for your business, or need a contact database review, consider reaching out to Relationship One to help you out.

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