Top Email Marketing Benchmarks of 2017 (and How to Do Better in 2018)

In a few short days, we’ll be starting another email marketing year. But before we do that, let’s first look back at 2017 and see how well email marketers collectively performed. Even more importantly, let’s use these email marketing benchmarks as guideposts to do better in the upcoming year.

Today’s blog entry compiles key 2017 email marketing benchmarks from Delivera, MailChimp, Inbox Marketer, and SignUp.to. The numbers cited here describe 2017’s email marketing campaigns in terms of oepns, clicks, bounces, and other metrics, plus some actionable tips to help you improve in each category. Let’s dive right in.

 

Opens

While there’s some variation in the actual number, our data sources all seem to agree on the average email marketing open rates in 2017:

  • The average open rate is 31.92% for all industries (Delivera).
  • On average, overall open rate was recorded at 24.79% (SignUp.to)
  • Open rates increase to 28.8%, up from 25.9% in the past year (Inbox Marketer).
  • On a per-industry level, open rates ranged from 15.2% to 28.4% and averaged 21.8% (MailChimp)

This year, the following tactics resulted in better-than-average open rates:

  • Subject lines less than 50 characters long resulted in 58% open rate (Adestra).
  • The open rate for personalized emails is 1.4 times higher than generic ones (Statista).
  • Segmentation results in 14.3% higher open rates (MailChimp).

 

Click-Throughs

In two of the references we used, the findings indicate overall higher click-through rates for the year (although the number widely varied):

  • Overall, CTRs incrementally increased by 0.8 percentage points, averaging 5.8% (Inbox Marketer).
  • Average CTRs across all sectors were reported to be 3.57 percent (Delivera).
  • CTRs came in at 4.19% for all industries (SignUp.to).
  • Depending on the industry, CTRs ranged between 1.25% to 5.13%, averaging 2.62% (MailChimp).

Here’s how email best practices enhanced CTRs of email campaigns:

  • Trigger emails generate 2x higher CTRs than traditional emails (Super Office).
  • CTRs for segmented emails are more than 8x higher than non-segmented emails (Super Office).
  • Subject line personalization improves CTRs by 17.36% (MarketingSherpa).

 

Click-to-Open

While CTRs measure the number of clicks over the number of emails sent, the click-to-open rate (CTOR) expresses the number of clicks as a percentage of the total opens. That’s why CTOR is a better gauge of email engagement.

SignUp.to finds that average CTOR is around 11.88% (SignUp.to). Meanwhile, Smart Insights recommends aiming for a CTOR between 10% to 15%. If your campaign is underperforming in terms of click-to-opens, follow the below tips:

  • Write short and clear subject lines.
  • Keep your copy between 50 to 125 words long.
  • Make sure your call-to-action (CTA) stands out.
  • Close with a specific option and end with gratitude.

 

Hard Bounces

Email marketers remain very effective at keeping hard bounces in check. According to Inbox Manager, bounce rates remain low at just 0.9% across all industries in 2017.

MailChimp’s industry-level email marketing benchmarks report shows that hard bounce rates vary from industry to industry, with a minimum of 0.7% and a maximum of 1.2%.

To keep your hard bounce rates within acceptable limits, try out the following:

Use a double opt-in list signup method

Keep your list spotlessly clean

Verify each contact in your list

Work with a data scrubbing and maintenance company

 

Conclusion

While averages and aggregate numbers give us a quick way to compare and evaluate our campaigns, keep in mind that these headline values oftentimes don’t tell the whole story. That’s why we need to go past these top-level email marketing benchmarks to find out what’s really going on. In that sense, the best reference metrics will always be your own campaign results.

Happy New Year!