We have new data! We’ve updated our report with Q3 and Q4 2018.
What’s a good email open or click-through rate? How do your email marketing and automation campaigns stack up against others in your industry?
Our new global Email Marketing Benchmarks report has you covered – with the tips, tactics and insights to improve your email campaigns’ performance.
Can’t find what you need? Just send us an email! We love to know what's important to our fellow marketers.
We analyzed around 4 billion emails sent by our customers from July to December 2018, in 126 countries across 19 industries.
For the best insights, we only looked at active senders with at least 1,000 contacts.
We also used the unique values for average email opens, clicks, unsubscribes, and spam (abuse) complaints. That means we only count each action once – even if a subscriber clicked or opened a newsletter many times.
|Continent||Open rate||Click-through rate||Click-to-open rate||Unsubscribe rate||Spam rate|
Segmentation and focus: email marketing across continents
The latest email marketing data across continents shows it’s worth focusing on your subscriber and their geolocation when catering to a global audience.
For instance, Europe beats North America hands down in everything: the open, click, and complaint rates.
And even though Oceania has a population four times smaller than Africa, it sends almost as many messages.
These results haven’t changed much over the last few quarters. The strongest markets are still on top, with just a few ups and downs.
Average global email results have dipped by less than a percentage point, compared to our Q2 2018 data.
There’s around an eight percentage point difference between Europe and Africa. Why?
To start, our samples aren’t the same size. We have a more active customer base in North America compared to, say, Africa or Asia.
Stricter local regulations play a part, too.
Take GDPR. Rolled out in the EU in May 2018, it places far more focus on how marketers build their email lists – and store and process contacts’ data – compared to the United States’ CAN-SPAM Act.
There could also be different consumer trends at play – although in our experience these tend to be more specific to countries, not continents.
So, what should you do with this data?
First, take a look at your email database. Pinpoint where your subscribers are located, and compare their engagement metrics to our benchmarks.
Then consider what you can do to beat the average results.
For instance, you could switch up your offer to match your customers’ preferences and actions. Or play with calls to action or your email design.
Just remember a cookie-cutter approach won’t get you far. Your email marketing campaigns should always complement your conversion-optimization plan.
|Country||Open rate||Click-through rate||Click-to-open rate||Unsubscribe rate||Spam rate|
GDPR and its impact
The dust has finally settled since GDPR was rolled out across the EU…or so it seems.
Compared to last quarter, countries affected by the new regulation have mostly seen a boost in average email marketing results.
Yet for unaffected countries like Brazil, the US and Canada, results have dropped. It could be a seasonal thing: the end of year is by far the busiest time for email marketers.
What’s also fascinating is countries with the highest average opens and clicks have the highest unsubscribe rates.
Why? It could be because more people open your emails, prompting a deliberate decision to opt out.
It could also be that since GDPR, they’re more aware of their rights – and why and how to unsubscribe.
That being said, when we look at the results across Europe, the average unsubscribe rate has stayed about the same. There’s only a 0.1 percentage point drop since Q2.
Putting all that aside, there are of course clear winners. And if you’ve been following our reports over the year, it won’t be a surprise. The Netherlands, France and Spain haven’t seen much change. And Germany has picked up after the Q2 drop and is back in third place.
So, what’s the lesson this time around?
You should always consider your target market – and compare your results to the country averages.
Customer preferences are different across markets. So too are regulations – but maybe less so with the GDPR spread across the EU.
So it’s not always ideal to compare your campaigns to others outside your market. Although it can be handy if you run campaigns in multiple countries.
If you do, segment your audience before comparing the results to the benchmarks.
This can also help you spot your best-performing markets – which might not be the same in other digital marketing channels.
|Industry||Open rate||Click-through rate||Click-to-open rate||Unsubscribe rate||Spam rate|
|Arts & Entertainment||30.00%||4.90%||16.32%||0.22%||0.02%|
|Health & Beauty||23.88%||4.15%||17.36%||0.26%||0.02%|
|Restaurants & Food||37.40%||5.02%||13.43%||0.26%||0.02%|
|Sports & Activities||28.41%||3.91%||13.76%||0.23%||0.01%|
|Technology & High Tech||25.67%||3.54%||13.81%||0.25%||0.02%|
Make it relevant and interesting – and get results!
When comparing your average email open and click-through rates, look at other companies within your industry.
Things like legal regulations, competition, or simply the nature of the industry will affect average performance.
In terms of industry trends, restaurants and food, non-profits, and publishers are still on top.
This suggests brands that send content about things we like and care about, will always have the most engagement.
At the same time, legal services, agencies, and healthcare have seen a drop. This could be because of their campaigns – or the nature of the industry.
If you’re seeing the same, take a look at what’s changed over the past two quarters. It could be as simple as how often you send emails – or how much (or little) you personalize them.
Either way, it’s a good idea to compare your average stats with your industry. You might spot an opportunity to outperform your competitors.
|Industry||Average conversion rate|
|Arts & Entertainment||6.10%|
|Health & Beauty||6.76%|
|Restaurants & Food||8.21%|
|Sports & Activities||9.49%|
|Technology & High Tech||6.55%|
Earn trust for landing page success
This time around, legal services, publishing, and the communications industry have enjoyed the highest conversion rates.
That’s interesting when you consider publishing was the only one to also score high email marketing metrics, like opens and clicks.
Overall, most industries have seen a drop in conversions – especially travel and healthcare.
It could be because of higher competition during the holiday season – or another reason we’re yet to pinpoint.
How can you boost your landing page conversion rates? It’s essential to research both your audience and your competition, to build successful lead generation campaigns.
Use it as a starting point. And if you're in communications, publishing, or legal services, you can safely aim for a 10% landing page conversion rate.
|Industry||double opt-in||single opt-in|
|Arts & Entertainment||10.02%||89.98%|
|Health & Beauty||8.19%||91.81%|
|Restaurants & Food||8.17%||91.83%|
|Sports and Activities||11.87%||88.13%|
|Technology & High Tech||7.09%||92.91%|
Double opt-in: an underrated growth tool
I’m a huge fan of double (confirmed) opt-in. Lean lists mean better results, and email deliverability is so much better when you have proven your list with double opt-in. It’s also a good security measure, to prevent anyone from injecting spam traps or sending other harmful emails to your list.
It’s great to see a bigger take-up of confirmed opt-in – a relief after the Q2 drop. This confirms my hunch that we needed to wait til the GDPR dust settled.
What’s interesting – but not surprising – is the industries with a bigger share of confirmed lists also observed the highest average results in terms of opens and clicks.
This once again proves that email list quality trumps quantity.
When’s the best time to send emails?
Once again our data suggests the short answer is: it depends.
In general, there seem to be two time slots you could aim for. The first is around 10AM – shortly after people arrive at work and have their morning coffee.
The second slot is around 2PM. This could be because people are catching up on email after lunch.
Like our last reports, we're again seeing an increase in click-through rates later in the afternoon, around 6PM when many of us return home.
This might mean that especially in the holiday season, you can capture your audience’s attention even later during the day, when they're most likely to buy online.
Just remember every audience is different.
What's the best day to send emails?
Like last quarter, it’s different for opens and clicks.
But this time around, Monday and Tuesday were the best days to send emails. And while Friday was the clear winner in Q2, it came in fourth.
That being said, there’s only around a 0.6 percentage point difference between the best five days.
So if you don’t send emails on the weekend – when both competition and average results are lower – then any other day should work.
Either way, I suggest you run an A/B test or even ask your audience.
Some offers are more time-sensitive – like when people have to go somewhere to use them. In that case, it might make more sense to send your offer Monday evening rather than Tuesday morning.
|# of messages||% of cycles||Open rate||Click-through rate||Click-to-open rate||Unsubscribe rate||Spam rate|
It’s not about length. It’s about value.
Shorter autoresponder cycles tend to produce better results. In fact, the single message autoresponder cycle – often used as a ‘welcome’ or ‘thank you’ email with a link to download something – had an astonishing 96.05% open rate and a 39.29% click-through rate.
But don’t get me wrong. It’s not really about length – it’s all about delivering value. You can easily run engaging long-term campaigns if subscribers keep finding your emails useful.
The trick is to understand the customer journey, and create marketing automation workflows that match every stage. For example, B2B sales cycles are usually complex and might even extend into years. They call for long email sequences that seize every potential opportunity to address your audience’s needs.
When planning your email marketing communication, start with your subscribers. Which of their problems do you solve? How exactly can you help them? What do they need to know to help them decide to buy your product? The answers will fuel your automated email campaigns – and convert your prospects into satisfied customers.
|Opens by hour||% of all message opens||Cumulative %||% of all message clicks||Cumulative %|
Time-sensitive offer? Be quick!
Email results change over time. There’s a big spike in the first few hours, followed by a gradual drop-off.
So keep this in mind if you send time-sensitive offers.
Almost 19% of all email campaigns are opened in the very first hour after sending. With each hour, your chances of getting more opens are diminishing.
After 7 hours, over half of your emails have already been opened.
Planning a flash sale? Consider a retargeting campaign (via emails or a PPC campaign), to follow up people who don’t respond within six hours.
If your offer isn’t time-specific, take time to analyze your results before following up. Even though only around 25% of subscribers will open your emails seven to 24 hours after you send them, it’s often worth the wait. And sending more emails isn’t always the answer.
Video in emails: room for improvement
When it comes to content, emails with video still generate the highest engagement rates.
The problem is not all email clients support it, which is why only around 8% of the emails our customers send contain links to videos.
For now, the best workaround is to use an image (maybe even an animated GIF) that looks like a video player and links to your page. That way, you'll boost your click-throughs and enhance your contacts’ experience – as they’ll watch the content in their default browser or video player.
As soon as Google implements this feature (they haven't said when), it will spread to most major email clients.
Are shorter subject lines better?
Looking at the data, you could say your email subject lines should be somewhere between 80 and 120 characters.
After all, they scored the highest open rates. But bear in mind they only account for around 10% of all emails we tracked.
Over 75% of subject lines are even shorter. That’s a promising trend, considering mobile use is on the rise – and less of the subject line is visible on smaller screens.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to giving your subscriber an idea of what’s inside.
Your subject lines need to be compelling enough to get people to open up. So in most cases, it’s not about the length of the subject line but rather conveying the message.
If the content is relevant to your audience, it's easy to come up with a subject line that scores a high open rate.
Need proof? Take a look on the chart at the 26.12% open rate beside the longest subject lines we tracked.
Still not convinced? Make A/B testing your new best friend!
|Emoji||% of messages||Open rate|
Emojis don’t bite!
Still scared of using emojis in your subject lines? You’re not alone. Our statistics show that even fewer marketers use them these days (6.5%) compared to last quarter (8%).
Saying that, if you’re not a big emoji fan and feel it doesn’t fit your brand, this quarter’s results suggest it could be worth a try. Here’s what to keep in mind when using emojis:
- Use emojis that make sense for your email
- Don’t go overboard
- Run an A/B test to check your results
Emojis in subject lines can improve open rates, attract subscribers and much more. They can also help you express an idea with less space – crucial in the mobile era. I hope we’ll know more about emojis next quarter, so test them out and let’s see what works.
|Personalized?||% of messages||Open rate|
Personalizing subject lines isn’t enough
This quarter’s results are surprising. Personalization is as popular as ever – but the results have dipped.
There’s only around a 0.5 percentage point difference between personalized and non-personalized subject lines.
What does that tell us?
Personalization in the email body still works (more on that later).
But when it comes to subject lines, it’s not enough to say “Hey, Bob” to win your subscribers’ hearts.
Your message must also be interesting and relevant. But don’t expect simple tricks like this to instantly lift your results.
For that, you need to take a long-term view.
|Preheader?||% of messages||Open rate||Click-through rate||Click-to-open rate|
The preheader: your subject line’s best friend
The preheader is the first snippet of text in your email that appears next to your subject line. Subscribers see it before they even open up.
We’ve been singing the preheader’s praises for a long time – and urging marketers to add one if they want high open rates.
But only around 11% do.
And that’s a shame, given emails with a preheader get much higher average open rates. They also have a far greater impact than personalized subject lines.
So, how should you design the preheader?
Here’s an example from Interaction-Design.org:
Subject line: Do not seek praise, seek criticism
Preheader: Learn how to conduct effective usability testing
As you can see, the subject and the preheader combine to tell the story.
In fact, you should make use of all the elements that subscribers see in the inbox before they open the email. Used well, the so-called envelope (sender, subject line, and preheader) can make a difference.
And your average open rates will reflect that.
|Personalized?||% of messages||Open rate||Click-through rate||Click-to-open rate|
Personalized content influences clicks and conversions
When personalizing email body content, we should be looking at three specific metrics (in this exact order): the click-through, click-to-open, and the open rates.
Why? Because if you think about it, personalized email body and copy can only step in, after you’ve already opened the message.
At the same time, your positive past experiences could affect the likelihood of you opening the messages from a particular sender.
So how does personalized email body copy influence clicks?
If we just looked at click-throughs, we’d see personalized emails tend to score higher: 4.18% vs 3.53%.
If you ignore the difference in the size of these two groups, that’s an 18.4% improvement!
At the same time, more people opening your emails usually means more clicks. Because there are more eyes on your CTAs. But as I’ve just mentioned, your experience with the brand’s previous campaigns could be one of the reasons why you’ve opened the email in the first place.
That’s why it’s worth using the other metric: the click-to-open ratio. It also tells you if subscribers are more likely to click on an offer after opening an email with personalized copy.
So what does our data tell us?
Turns out, there’s little difference between personalized and non-personalized emails.
There may be several reasons for this, and we’ll need to dig deeper to understand the results better.
First of all, we don’t know what level of personalization our users implemented in their email campaigns.
It could just as well be that 99% of them used a basic level of personalization, like greeting the subscribers by their first name.
On top of that, it might be that we’re not seeing all of the “personalized” email campaigns that our customers are sending.
It could be the case that instead of creating dynamic content or even using the built-in merge tags, they chose to send the newsletters to their segments individually, as separate messages.
But let’s go back to the original question:
Should you personalize your email campaigns? Or would the CTR difference be too small to justify the costs?
The best way to know is to test it.
My gut feeling says it’s worth it, but again, I wouldn’t expect significant differences if you only use the most basic personalization. Think bigger!
And while you do that, we’ll be busy making personalization much easier to use. So you can look forward to even better results.
|Open rate||Click-through rate||Unsubscribe rate||Spam rate|
Welcome emails: your secret conversion weapon
If you only send one thing, make it a welcome message.
Why? Because our latest data shows the average open rate is over 84%! And the average click-through rate is around 26%.
That means more than eight out of 10 people will open your welcome email. And one in four will click through to your site.
That’s four times as many opens and clicks compared to other emails.
Why do welcome emails get such high open and click-through rates?
Because we expect welcome emails to land in our inbox – to confirm our signup or purchase.
Sure, they’re sent less frequently, which made our sample much smaller and partly affected our results.
But that doesn’t make them any less valuable.
Best of all, setting them up is super easy – especially if you use marketing automation workflow templates.
Oh, did I mention they’re great for boosting your email deliverability? Keep that in mind, too.
And if you want even better deliverability – and conversion rates – make sure to add something click-worthy to your welcome messages.
It could be a discount code, personalized video, or exclusive content available only to the newly joined subscribers. Do that and watch your average email statistics soar!
|Has Graphic?||% of messages||Open rate||Click-through rate||Unsubscribe rate||Spam rate|
Versatility and relevance matter
Should your email marketing campaigns be text or image based? It’s a great question – with a not-so-simple answer.
We tried to split our customers’ sent emails into those with images versus those without. The problem? We don't know the image sizes. Was it a simple logo – or was the entire email an image?
What the data does suggest is that image-based emails perform better – both in terms of the average open and click-through rates.
But once again, this might not be the case for your audience.
I suggest making your communication more versatile, try both approaches, and A/B test individual messages to find your winning strategy.
And once you've done that, don't stop evaluating your results. Make sure you're always optimizing your email marketing campaigns.
|List size||Open rate||Click-through rate||Click-to-open rate||Unsubscribe rate||Spam rate|
|1,000 - 2,499||29.48%||5.32%||18.05%||0.33%||0.02%|
|2,500 - 4,999||24.44%||3.98%||16.30%||0.23%||0.02%|
|5,000 - 9,999||20.07%||3.14%||15.62%||0.17%||0.02%|
|10,000 - 24,999||17.25%||2.59%||15.02%||0.13%||0.01%|
|25,000 - 49,999||14.46%||1.80%||12.41%||0.11%||0.01%|
|50,000 - 99,999||13.85%||1.90%||13.72%||0.10%||0.01%|
Email lists: when quality beats quantity!
When it comes to email lists, email marketers have long preached the importance of quality over quantity. Is this still true? Without knowing the overall conversion rates, it's hard to say for sure.
What we can see clearly, though, is that marketers with smaller lists are better at engaging their audience, and their messages tend to get higher average open and click-through rates. In fact, this trend's been visible over the last two quarters.
The lesson? When you're growing your lists, don't lose touch with your customers! Build relationships just like you would if you were running a corner store. Personalize your subscriber experience and make sure the conversation keeps delivering value to them. Your audience will appreciate it and pay you back with interest.
|Type||% of message opens||% of message clicks|
|Desktop (e.g. Apple Mail)||13.88%||27.16%|
|Web-based (e.g. Gmail; Note: this could be either desktop or mobile)||60.94%||26.98%|
Design for all devices
The data clearly shows people use email on all devices, with a strong trend towards mobile.
That’s great news for email marketers: your customers interact with your emails whenever and wherever they feel like.
So, to be successful, you need to apply responsive design principles that make your emails look great on any device – and work well with all email clients.
That’s why you should start designing your templates with a CTA in mind, cut out the clutter, go finger-friendly, test your results, and constantly optimize for conversion.
And don’t forget the actual sale doesn’t take place in the email (at least not for now).
So make sure that even after subscribers click-through to your site and go to the checkout, their experience is effortless. On any device.
Short, long, and everything in between
Your lead capture forms play a big part in your list growth.
When designing and optimizing forms and landing pages, keep it in mind people can have long email addresses. So make sure your forms are big enough to fit them.
And pay special attention to the mobile experience, since it typically doesn’t favor longer addresses.
Remember you can also ask for business emails, since they’re often shorter than personal ones.