We have new data! We’ve updated our report with Q1 and Q2 2019.

Email Marketing Benchmarks

About the new Email Marketing Benchmarks report

We want to live in a world where emails are relationship builders, not distractions.

The best way to achieve this is by helping marketers design more meaningful campaigns backed by data and insights.

Turns out, as an email marketing software provider, we have tons of data.

And that’s why we created the Email Marketing Benchmarks report.

Keep scrolling to find loads of useful insights into emails, marketing automation, and landing pages.

Can't find what you need? Just send us an email! We love to know what's important to our fellow marketers.

Michal Leszczynski Content Marketing Manager @GetResponse

What we did

We analyzed around 4 billion emails sent by our customers from January to June 2019, 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.

Fresh find

Best phrases
to use in email
subject lines

31.43% CTOR Newsletter
30.31% CTOR PDF
27.84% CTOR Ebook

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the average email benchmarks for all industries?
  • Average email open rate: 22.15%
  • Average email click-through rate: 3.43%
  • Average email click-to-open rate: 15.49%
  • Average email unsubscribe rate: 0.20%
  • Average email spam complaint rate: 0.02%
What is a good email open rate?

What could be considered a good open rate (OR) is rather individual, and the factors that influence it are often out of your control. The industry you’re in, your target audience and the type of campaign you’re running all play a part in how high your open rate will be.

Consider this:

Out of all the industries we analyzed, Agencies had the lowest average open rate of 16.10%. At the same time Non-profits, the industry with the highest result, observed an average open rate of 36.15%.

What is a good click-through rate?

Much like with open rates, what you should consider a good click-through rate is rather individual.

The elements such as the industry you’re in, your target audience and most importantly — the type of campaign you’re analyzing — all affect how high your click-through rate will be.

After all, not all campaigns have the intention to get a response from the recipient, and therefore usually don’t observe high click-through rates. An example of one such campaign is an email informing customers about a privacy policy update.

Consider this:

Of all the industries we looked at, Agencies had the lowest average click-through rate of 1.87%. On the other hand Publishing, which was the top performer, had the highest average CTR of 6.46%.

What’s the difference between click-through and click-to-open rate?

Email click-through rate (CTR) tells you the number of people who clicked on any of the links inside of your email.

Meanwhile, click-to-open rate (CTOR) compares the number of people that opened your message with those who clicked on any of the links.

CTOR is an important metric that can help you better understand how relevant and engaging your emails are.

To calculate CTOR, you need to divide your click-through rate by the open rate and multiply it by 100%.

E.g.:

  • OR: 20%
  • CTR: 2%
  • CTOR = 2%/20% * 100% = 10%
What are good email conversion rates?

Conversion rate focuses on the results — how many times or how many of your recipients have taken a given action.

For example, how many times they downloaded your ebook, how many of them registered for a webinar or visited your product page.

This metric can be very useful, especially when you assign a monetary value to your conversions. Then it's very easy for you to decide whether a particular campaign was successful and needs repeating, or if you should choose a different approach.

As everyone can have their own definition of conversion, it's impossible to say what a good email conversion rate is, and we suggest that you look at the next best thing, i.e., the average click-through rate.

Location & industry

Below you can see how the average email open rates, click-through rates, and other key email marketing metrics vary across different locations and industries.

Average results by continent

Take a look and see how the average email marketing metrics vary across continents.

Oceania

  • Open rate 25.64%
  • Click-through rate 3.91%
  • Click-to-open rate 15.23%
  • Unsubscribe rate 0.28%
  • Spam rate 0.01%

North America

  • Open rate 19.00%
  • Click-through rate 2.98%
  • Click-to-open rate 15.71%
  • Unsubscribe rate 0.17%
  • Spam rate 0.01%

Europe

  • Open rate 26.84%
  • Click-through rate 4.35%
  • Click-to-open rate 16.22%
  • Unsubscribe rate 0.26%
  • Spam rate 0.02%

Africa

  • Open rate 17.33%
  • Click-through rate 2.26%
  • Click-to-open rate 13.02%
  • Unsubscribe rate 0.14%
  • Spam rate 0.01%

Asia

  • Open rate 18.51%
  • Click-through rate 2.54%
  • Click-to-open rate 13.74%
  • Unsubscribe rate 0.12%
  • Spam rate 0.01%

South America

  • Open rate 23.06%
  • Click-through rate 3.26%
  • Click-to-open rate 14.12%
  • Unsubscribe rate 0.15%
  • Spam rate 0.02%
Just swipe to see the whole table
Continent Open rate Click-through rate Click-to-open rate Unsubscribe rate Spam rate
All 22.15% 3.43% 15.49% 0.20% 0.02%

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.

It’s become very clear that consumers in various locations show different levels of engagement when interacting with email marketing campaigns.

Take Europe and North America for example. The difference in their average email open rate is 7.84 percentage points (26.84% vs 19%). For click-throughs it’s 1.37 percentage points (4.35% vs 2.98%).

This may not seem like much at first, but given the fact that the average click-through rate (CTR) in North America is 2.98%, the difference of 1.37 percentage points accounts for +46% more clicks (if we ignore the sample size difference) for the campaigns sent by European marketers.

How about the year over year change for individual markets and the global market?

We’ve observed that global average email open and click-through rates have both been going down.

Compared to the Q2 2018 data we’ve published in the past, the global average email open rates dipped by 1.52 percentage points. The global average click-through rates have gone down by 0.4 percentage points.

The continents that observed the biggest loss in the engagement rates YOY: North America (OR 20.78% vs 19%, CTR 3.41% vs 2.98%), South America (OR 28.34% vs 23.06%, CTR 3.85% vs 3.26%), and Asia (OR 22.11% vs 18.51%, CTR 3.20% vs 2.54%).

While the global results have dipped, one of the markets seem to have come out rather unharmed.

While Oceania scored higher in 2019, campaigns sent in this region only account for 2% of the group we analyzed.

Europe’s average open rates have roughly remained the same, but the average click-through has also dipped by about 0.2 percentage point.

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 against our benchmarks.

Then consider what you can do to beat the average results.

For instance, you could adjust your email frequency, switch up your offer to match your customers’ preferences and actions, or play with the placement and copy of your calls-to-action.

Just remember a cookie-cutter approach won’t get you far. Your email marketing campaigns should always complement your conversion optimization plan.

Przemysław Depka Prondzinski Senior Account Manager @GetResponse

Average results by country

What are the average email marketing results in different countries? Here's what we've found.

Just swipe to see the whole table
Country Open rate Click-through rate Click-to-open rate Unsubscribe rate Spam rate
Australia
26.45% 3.92% 14.83% 0.29% 0.01%
Belgium
21.28% 3.84% 18.07% 0.19% 0.01%
Brazil
23.60% 3.77% 15.95% 0.17% 0.02%
Canada
19.51% 3.54% 18.13% 0.18% 0.02%
Colombia
21.75% 2.65% 12.20% 0.11% 0.01%
France
36.25% 5.22% 14.39% 0.37% 0.02%
Germany
40.67% 6.99% 17.19% 0.40% 0.01%
Great Britain
18.39% 2.66% 14.45% 0.19% 0.01%
India
15.14% 2.19% 14.46% 0.11% 0.01%
Indonesia
23.07% 2.17% 9.41% 0.10% 0.00%
Israel
21.72% 3.51% 16.16% 0.22% 0.01%
Italy
33.24% 4.13% 12.42% 0.26% 0.02%
Malaysia
24.33% 3.21% 13.20% 0.14% 0.01%
Mexico
22.61% 2.23% 9.85% 0.12% 0.01%
Netherlands
35.34% 6.10% 17.27% 0.34% 0.01%
Peru
18.88% 1.57% 8.33% 0.11% 0.01%
Philippines
19.22% 1.79% 9.32% 0.12% 0.01%
Poland
29.60% 4.69% 15.84% 0.20% 0.02%
Romania
17.59% 2.84% 16.13% 0.16% 0.02%
Russia
23.95% 5.71% 23.84% 0.35% 0.08%
Singapore
11.89% 2.10% 17.64% 0.11% 0.01%
Spain
34.95% 4.63% 13.24% 0.22% 0.01%
Ukraine
27.89% 5.91% 21.21% 0.30% 0.03%
United States
18.39% 2.78% 15.11% 0.18% 0.01%
Vietnam
24.98% 2.74% 10.96% 0.09% 0.01%
All 22.15% 3.43% 15.49% 0.20% 0.02%

GDPR and its impact

It’s been over a year since GDPR came into force.

So what’s changed?

Although the global average results have dipped, it seems not by much.

The strongest markets like Germany, France, or the Netherlands, still dominate the top of our table. Although France saw a loss of 1 percentage point in CTR, Germany observed an over 1.7 percentage point increase around the same time.

Countries that were primarily unaffected by GDPR, e.g., Brazil, the US, and Canada, saw their average open rates and click-through rates drop (continuing the decline from last year.)

Why could that be?

Perhaps other regulations like the CCPA are making global consumers more aware of their rights – and why and how to unsubscribe.

Or maybe it’s because online marketing is clearly going towards the pay-to-play mode and marketers are shifting their focus to the channels that aren’t owned by anyone – like email.

I’ll repeat the lesson from our last report.

You should always consider your target market – and compare your results to the country averages.

Customer preferences are different across markets. So are regulations – but maybe less so with the GDPR spreading 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 against the benchmarks.

This can also help you spot your best-performing markets – which might not be the same in other digital marketing channels.

Mateusz Ruzik Product Manager @GetResponse

Average results by industry

Here, we've gathered email marketing benchmarks by industry. You can see how your average email open, click-through, click-to-open, unsubscribe, and spam complaint rates compare against other companies in your industry.

Just swipe to see the whole table
Industry Open rate Click-through rate Click-to-open rate Unsubscribe rate Spam rate
Agencies 16.10% 1.87% 11.59% 0.16% 0.02%
Arts & Entertainment 28.72% 4.48% 15.61% 0.20% 0.02%
Automotive 26.77% 3.87% 14.47% 0.22% 0.02%
Communications 28.80% 6.38% 22.15% 0.12% 0.01%
Education 28.36% 4.31% 15.19% 0.22% 0.02%
Financial Services 25.36% 4.73% 18.65% 0.20% 0.02%
Health & Beauty 25.09% 4.19% 16.69% 0.25% 0.02%
Health Care 24.83% 3.58% 14.40% 0.21% 0.02%
Internet Marketing 17.26% 2.81% 16.30% 0.20% 0.02%
Legal Services 24.65% 2.66% 10.81% 0.19% 0.03%
Non-profits 36.15% 4.25% 11.77% 0.18% 0.02%
Publishing 29.64% 6.46% 21.78% 0.18% 0.01%
Real Estate 25.48% 3.07% 12.05% 0.20% 0.02%
Restaurants & Food 33.10% 3.46% 10.45% 0.23% 0.02%
Retail 22.38% 3.39% 15.14% 0.19% 0.02%
Sports & Activities 28.99% 3.82% 13.19% 0.20% 0.01%
Technology & High Tech 24.17% 3.03% 12.53% 0.24% 0.01%
Travel 22.79% 2.93% 12.84% 0.17% 0.01%
All 22.15% 3.43% 15.49% 0.20% 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 get the highest 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.

Mateusz Ruzik Product Manager @GetResponse

Landing page conversion by industry

In this table, you'll see the average landing page conversions based on the subscription rate they generated across industries.

Just swipe to see the whole table
Industry Average conversion rate
Agencies 4.04%
Arts & Entertainment 5.30%
Automotive 5.66%
Communications 8.16%
Education 5.65%
Financial Services 5.31%
Health & Beauty 5.59%
Health Care 3.98%
Internet Marketing 5.94%
Legal Services 10.98%
Non-profits 2.17%
Publishing 9.84%
Real Estate 4.99%
Restaurants & Food 7.52%
Retail 3.74%
Sports & Activities 9.86%
Technology & High Tech 6.03%
Travel 3.07%
All 5.86%

Earn trust for landing page success

This time around, legal services, publishing, and the sports and activities industries have enjoyed the highest conversion rates.

All these industries had higher than average email marketing metrics like opens and clicks, too.

Overall, most industries have seen a drop in conversions – especially travel and non-profits.

How can you boost your landing page conversion rates?

Pay attention to your lead magnets and the quality of traffic you drive to your landing pages.

Make sure to align them all. If there’s a mismatch, even if your landing page design is spot on, you’re not going to see high conversion rates.

To get you inspired, check out this landing page design guide for 2019 and this post on how to design lead funnels that work.

Sezgin Hergül Product Marketing Specialist @GetResponse

Use of double opt-in by industry

Below you'll find out how popular the use of confirmed opt-in is in different industries.

Just swipe to see the whole table
Industry double opt-in single opt-in
Agencies 6.20% 93.80%
Arts & Entertainment 10.21% 89.79%
Automotive 2.76% 97.24%
Communications 3.37% 96.63%
Education 13.70% 86.30%
Financial Services 11.21% 88.79%
Health & Beauty 8.35% 91.65%
Health Care 11.19% 88.81%
Internet Marketing 7.59% 92.41%
Legal services 4.58% 95.42%
Non-profits 21.27% 78.73%
Publishing 18.11% 81.89%
Real Estate 4.85% 95.15%
Restaurants & Food 8.33% 91.67%
Retail 5.46% 94.54%
Sports and Activities 12.09% 87.91%
Technology & High Tech 7.24% 92.76%
Travel 6.17% 93.83%

Double opt-in: an underrated growth tool

I’m a huge fan of confirmed (double) opt-in. Lean lists mean better results, and email deliverability is so much better when you have verified 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, continuous take-up of confirmed opt-in – a relief after the Q2 2018 drop. This confirms my hunch that we needed to wait til the GDPR dust settled.

What’s interesting – but not surprising – is that 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.

Mateusz Ruzik Product Manager @GetResponse

Time & frequency

Here, you'll find the average email marketing results observed by marketers depending on the time, day, and frequency of email sends in their email campaigns.

Results by hour of day

In this section, we’re looking for the answer to the popular question – what's the best time to send your email campaigns.

Just swipe to see the whole table

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 10 AM – shortly after people arrive at work and have their morning coffee.

The second slot is around 1 PM. This could be because people are catching up on emails after lunch.

Like in our last reports, we're again seeing an increase in click-through rates later in the afternoon, around 6 PM when many of us return home.

Just remember every audience is different.

Sometimes people change their behavior based on the day or their work-load.

It’s hard to generalize what’s going to work best for everyone. That’s why it’s better to let an algorithm pick the best time for you.

Features like Perfect Timing or Time Travel that take into consideration your recipients’ behavior or their time zone will take out the guesswork.

Michal Leszczynski Content Marketing Manager @GetResponse

Results by day of week

Here, we've looked at the average results of email campaigns sent on different days of the week.

Just swipe to see the whole table

What's the best day to send emails?

As in our previous reports, the difference between individual week days isn’t as clear-cut.

Monday and Tuesday continue to lead both in terms of average opens and clicks.

At the same time, when you look at the click-to-open ratio (CTOR), Saturday and Sunday were the top two choices.

This may be due to the fact that weekends are much less competitive. Combined, Saturday and Sunday account for 18% of all email campaigns sent, while Tuesday on its own, accounts for 17%.

Either way, I suggest you run an A/B test, ask your audience, or pick a day you’ll always send your emails on.

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.

Michal Leszczynski Content Marketing Manager @GetResponse

Number of newsletters per week

What's the right email frequency? What's the potential increase in the number of conversions your email campaigns generate if you add an extra message to your schedule? The data in this table should help you find the right answers.

Just swipe to see the whole table
# of newsletters Open rate Click-through rate Click-to-open rate % of marketers
1 33.40% 4.65% 13.91% 49.70%
2 26.87% 3.31% 12.32% 19.39%
3 23.06% 2.84% 12.31% 8.98%
4 21.32% 2.64% 12.36% 5.37%
5 20.39% 2.84% 13.94% 3.97%
6 18.53% 2.06% 11.13% 2.94%
7 16.05% 1.84% 11.49% 3.40%
8 17.79% 2.30% 12.91% 1.48%
9 16.74% 2.11% 12.62% 1.05%
10 15.79% 2.15% 13.61% 0.89%
11 15.48% 2.09% 13.50% 0.63%
12 14.62% 1.79% 12.22% 0.57%
13 13.87% 2.01% 14.52% 0.46%
14 12.79% 2.36% 18.42% 0.82%
15 13.17% 1.47% 11.14% 0.36%

The fewer, the better

Sales people say that persistence pays off.

Is it also true for email marketing? Without knowing the conversion rates, we say it’s email relevance that pays off. Why?

Your audience will reward you with higher open and click rates if you don't send more than five newsletters a week.

Bear in mind we’re only talking about percentages here. When analyzing your messages, you should also look at the total number of conversions.

It may turn out that sending one more message lowers your opens and increases the unsubscribe rates. Or it could generate more conversions, outweighing the cost of getting new subscribers. This is especially true with high-value offerings, where each sale makes a big difference to the bottom line.

Przemysław Depka Prondzinski Senior Account Manager @GetResponse

Number of autoresponders in a cycle

How many emails should you put into your autoresponder cycle? We've analyzed how the average engagement metrics change depending on the number of emails our customers used in their autoresponder cycles.

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# of messages % of cycles Open rate Click-through rate Click-to-open rate Unsubscribe rate Spam rate
1 36.31% 88.70% 35.07% 39.54% 0.72% 0.09%
2 11.42% 72.45% 23.59% 32.56% 0.69% 0.06%
3 7.22% 63.69% 18.99% 29.81% 0.68% 0.05%
4 6.41% 58.25% 15.28% 26.23% 0.61% 0.06%
5 5.48% 56.03% 14.29% 25.50% 0.68% 0.04%
6 5.05% 57.04% 12.33% 21.62% 0.57% 0.05%
7 4.78% 36.16% 8.20% 22.67% 0.44% 0.04%
8 4.74% 47.99% 11.60% 24.18% 0.44% 0.04%
9 2.64% 39.45% 6.76% 17.13% 0.39% 0.03%
10 2.83% 43.55% 10.22% 23.46% 0.58% 0.05%
11 2.64% 43.77% 8.35% 19.08% 0.45% 0.04%
12 2.49% 41.02% 8.23% 20.07% 0.40% 0.03%
13 1.51% 32.60% 6.61% 20.27% 0.42% 0.04%
14 1.05% 49.62% 12.49% 25.17% 0.46% 0.07%
15 1.44% 41.15% 9.53% 23.17% 0.39% 0.06%
16 1.51% 32.59% 6.52% 20.01% 0.36% 0.04%
17 1.17% 45.56% 9.17% 20.13% 0.36% 0.03%
18 1.32% 25.07% 4.22% 16.83% 0.42% 0.02%

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 88.7% open rate and a 35.07% 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 are you solving? 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.

Irek Klimczak Content Marketing Expert @GetResponse

Tactics

In this section, you'll see the average metrics observed by marketers using different email marketing tactics.

Average results by message type

Which email type performs best? Here we're looking at the average opens, clicks, unsubscribes, and spam complaint rates for different types of emails.

Triggered

  • Open rate 44.05%
  • Click−through rate 10.39%
  • Click−to−open rate 23.59%
  • Unsubscribe rate 0.51%
  • Spam rate 0.05%

Autoresponder

  • Open rate 29.77%
  • Click−through rate 5.92%
  • Click−to−open rate 19.90%
  • Unsubscribe rate 0.32%
  • Spam rate 0.03%

RSS

  • Open rate 26.78%
  • Click−through rate 6.69%
  • Click−to−open rate 24.99%
  • Unsubscribe rate 0.11%
  • Spam rate 0.01%

Automated emails are on top

Want high open and click through rates? Send automated emails triggered by subscriber behavior.

It’s even worth doing for simple messages like RSS emails sent when you publish a new blog post.

Newsletters and one-off emails still work. But triggered emails bring the best results.

Why? Timing and relevance.

When someone gets a message straight after taking an action, they’re more likely ready to read and respond to it.

The same is true if they find it interesting and relevant. So you need to know your audience (specifically their information needs and preferences.)

With marketing automation, you can collect important data along the customer journey – and use it to segment your list and personalize your content.

For instance, you can add tags to your contacts based on the products they click and browse. The more actionable data you have, the more relevant your messages will be.

That’s why marketing automation cycles bring the best results.

Irek Klimczak Content Marketing Expert @GetResponse

Use of video

In this table, we're looking at whether adding video content (including links to your video hosting platforms) could help you boost your engagement metrics, primarily the average click-through and click-to-open rates.

  • Open rate 28.62%
  • Click-through rate 4.92%
  • Unsubscribe rate 0.23%
  • Spam rate 0.02%
  • Open rate 39.67%
  • Click-through rate 8.83%
  • Unsubscribe rate 0.26%
  • Spam rate 0.01%
  • Open rate 8.11%
  • Click-through rate 1.66%
  • Unsubscribe rate 0.19%
  • Spam rate 0.02%

Other / None

  • Open rate 21.56%
  • Click-through rate 3.29%
  • Unsubscribe rate 0.20%
  • Spam rate 0.02%

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 a 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 (and they haven't said when,) it will spread to most major email clients.

Mateusz Ruzik Product Manager @GetResponse

Number of characters in email subject lines

Below we're looking at the relationship between the email subject line length and the average open rates they scored. On top of that, you'll see what subject line length is most popular with email marketers.

Just swipe to see the whole table

Are shorter subject lines better?

Looking at the data, you could say your email subject lines should be somewhere between 90 and 140 characters.

After all, they scored the highest open rates. But bear in mind they only account for around 8% of all emails we tracked.

Over 85% 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 the email. But remember that your sender name and preheader text aim to do the same.

If you design them together with the goal of optimizing your open rates in mind, you can achieve great results.

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 25-26% open rates beside the three longest subject line groups we tracked.

Still not convinced? Make A/B testing your new best friend!

Irek Klimczak Content Marketing Expert @GetResponse

Emoji in email subject lines

Could adding an emoji to your subject lines help you achieve higher email open rates? We've looked at how popular and successful this approach is among GetResponse customers.

Just swipe to see the whole table
Emoji % of messages Open rate
YES 3.94% 25.02%
NO 96.06% 22.03%

Emoji – fewer fans, slightly better results!

Still scared of using emojis in your subject lines? You’re not alone. Our statistics show that even fewer marketers use them these days (3.9%) compared to the lprevious report (6.7%.)

Having said 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.

The average open rates for emails that contained emoji in the subject line were 25.02%. That’s almost 3 percentage points higher than the average.

Here’s what to keep in mind when using emoji:

  • Use the emoji that make sense for your email
  • Don’t go overboard
  • Run an A/B test to check your results

Emoji in subject lines can improve open rates, attract subscribers, and do much more. They can also help you express an idea with less space – crucial on mobile. But they may not be ideal if you’re targeting a very professional type of audience.

I hope we’ll know more about emoji in the future, so test them out and let’s see what works.

Przemysław Depka Prondzinski Senior Account Manager @GetResponse

Personalization in email subject lines

Here we've tried to answer the question whether you should use personalization in the email subject lines.

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Personalized? % of messages Open rate
YES 11.78% 22.63%
NO 88.22% 22.09%

Personalizing subject lines isn’t enough

We can see the same trend we observed in our last report.

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.

Przemysław Depka Prondzinski Senior Account Manager @GetResponse

Phrases in email subject lines

Do individual phrases in email subject lines correlate with email campaign performance? Here we explore whether individual words have the power to make or break your email campaigns.

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Phrase or symbol % of messages Open rate Click-through rate Click-to-open rate
video 2.01% 19.22% 3.60% 18.76%
infographic 0.01% 12.88% 4.53% 35.14%
ebook 0.87% 22.11% 6.16% 27.84%
pdf 0.22% 24.54% 7.44% 30.31%
you 16.89% 15.52% 2.48% 15.98%
free 3.35% 18.03% 4.06% 22.54%
quick 0.21% 17.51% 2.43% 13.88%
now 2.60% 19.38% 3.10% 15.98%
re: 0.84% 15.72% 2.46% 15.64%
fw 0.12% 33.18% 3.90% 11.75%
sale 1.38% 17.42% 2.32% 13.32%
? 12.05% 21.13% 2.82% 13.33%
! 18.57% 22.08% 3.44% 15.59%
newsletter 0.88% 24.09% 7.57% 31.43%

Don’t play games. Communicate value, expect results

Marketers often ask about what they should or shouldn’t include in their email subject lines.

Having previously looked at the use of personalization and emoji, we’ve decided to explore how specific phrases and symbols correlate with email marketing results.

We’ve listed some of the most popular phrases and looked at the open rates, click-through rates, and click-to-open rates that the email campaigns that contained them observed.

The outcome was pretty interesting.

If we only looked at the average open rates, the winning “phrase” would be “fw”.

The next top three phrases were “pdf”, “newsletter”, and “ebook”.

That’s bad news because we strongly discourage marketers from using “fw” and “fwd” as these phrases are primarily used to trick email recipients into thinking that the message came from someone they know.

I think this tactic is rather short-sighted and given the low CTRs, it would not generate many conversions. Plus it’s something that could cause deliverability problems in the future as people may be more inclined to mark your messages as spam.

What about the other top three phrases?

It seems that communicating the value recipients will get out of the message pays off.

Although emails that contained these phrases didn’t get the highest average open rates, they got much higher click-through (CTR) and click-to-open rates (CTOR). Both of these metrics are a clear sign of user engagement.

So what should you do?

If you’re promoting a piece of content or a valuable resource, you’re probably better off if you mention it in the subject line.

Your emails will probably get higher than average engagement rates.

What if you’re running a sales promo?

It looks like using phrases that evoke urgency like “now” and “quick” isn’t the best way forward.

People are probably just tired of them.

Many don’t like to be pressured into doing things that require instant action – which is generally a good thing.

Or it could be something else, we can’t know for sure.

On another note, it’s interesting to see that emails that contained the phrase “free” performed particularly well.

This phrase, previously believed to cause deliverability issues, seems to work well for quite a few marketers.

To be honest, I’m not too surprised by this. People still enjoy receiving free things. Whether it’s free delivery or a free sample. While often there are strings attached, it doesn’t hurt to check what the offer is about.

Michal Leszczynski Content Marketing Manager @GetResponse

Preheader

Does adding the preheader increase your chances of getting your emails opened? Let's see how popular preheaders are and whether email marketers that use them get better than average email open rates.

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Preheader? % of messages Open rate Click-through rate Click-to-open rate
YES 10.89% 27.82% 4.39% 15.76%
NO 89.11% 21.46% 3.32% 15.48%

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. People see it before they even open the email.

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 – 27.82% vs 21.46%. 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 go together 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.

Irek Klimczak Content Marketing Expert @GetResponse

Other

Here, we’re looking at other elements that may play a role in how you run your email marketing campaigns and the average metrics you could expect.

Average results by list size

Do email marketers with bigger lists get better results? Here, we're looking at the relationship between the average email marketing results observed by our customers and their list sizes.

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List size Open rate Click-through rate Click-to-open rate Unsubscribe rate Spam rate
1,000 - 2,499 28.26% 4.78% 16.90% 0.31% 0.02%
2,500 - 4,999 23.12% 3.63% 15.68% 0.22% 0.02%
5,000 - 9,999 18.75% 2.78% 14.80% 0.16% 0.01%
10,000 - 24,999 16.80% 2.42% 14.39% 0.12% 0.01%
25,000 - 49,999 15.50% 1.87% 12.04% 0.10% 0.01%
50,000 - 99,999 14.50% 2.28% 15.73% 0.10% 0.01%
100,000+ 11.77% 1.70% 14.47% 0.08% 0.01%
All 22.16% 3.48% 15.73% 0.21% 0.02%

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 audiences, and their messages tend to get higher average open and click-through rates.

In fact, this trend's been visible since we started publishing this report.

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.

Michal Leszczynski Content Marketing Manager @GetResponse

Types of email clients

What percentage of emails are opened on mobile? How is it different for desktop and web-based email clients? Let's take a look.

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Type % of message opens % of message clicks
Mobile 34.31% 47.02%
Desktop (e.g. Apple Mail) 45.69% 24.62%
Web-based (e.g. Gmail; Note: this could be either desktop or mobile) 20.00% 28.37%

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 (though Gmail seems to be going in this direction).

So make sure that even after subscribers click-through to your site and go to the checkout, their experience is effortless. On any device.

Irek Klimczak Content Marketing Expert @GetResponse

Email address length

In this table, you'll find the average email address length.

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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.