If you’re an Olympic runner, it’s great to beat your personal best time. But your own time means nothing unless you compare it with the other runners in the race.
In the same way, you need to know the average performance metrics of similar companies to gauge your own success.
Every week you open your dashboard with anticipation to see if your email campaign is performing well. Among the most important metrics that you look at first are your open, bounce, click and unsubscribe rates. These stats help you determine if your emails are breaking through and resonating with your subscribers.
MailerLite has analyzed these metrics across every industry to help you establish realistic benchmarks for your campaigns. Every industry has a different email marketing success rate, so it is better that you compare your performance with companies in the same industry.
Without further ado, here are the email marketing industry benchmarks of 2019.
Average open rate: 23.65%
Average click rate: 3.55%
Average unsubscribe rate: 0.32%
Average bounce rate: 0.63%
|Industry||Open rate||Click rate||Unsubscribe rate||Bounce rate|
|Agriculture and food services||27.17%||4.40%||0.26%||0.34%|
|Architecture and construction||21.54%||3.84%||0.32%||1.34%|
|Arts and artists||24.38%||4.03%||0.35%||0.32%|
|Beauty and personal care||22.49%||2.96%||0.52%||0.62%|
|Business and finance||22.81%||2.86%||0.45%||0.67%|
|Computers and electronics||15.06%||1.69%||0.29%||0.31%|
|Creative services and agency||24.19%||3.66%||0.36%||0.37%|
|Daily deals and e-coupons||18.42%||3.43%||0.15%||0.18%|
|Education and training||25.46%||3.94%||0.28%||0.45%|
|Entertainment and events||18.17%||2.62%||0.23%||0.26%|
|Health and fitness||22.22%||2.75%||0.33%||0.28%|
|Home and garden||25.96%||6.29%||0.24%||0.22%|
|Marketing and advertising||18.42%||2.57%||0.23%||0.18%|
|Media and publishing||22.82%||4.33%||0.24%||0.26%|
|Medical, dental and healthcare||21.59%||3.31%||0.32%||0.75%|
|Music and musicians||16.14%||2.19%||0.25%||0.60%|
|Photo and video||25.49%||3.17%||0.50%||0.58%|
|Recruitment and staffing||20.56%||3.63%||0.26%||0.81%|
|Software and web app||21.73%||1.28%||0.32%||0.43%|
|Travel and transportation||30.95%||7.85%||0.27%||0.33%|
👍 Open rate increases
The Travel and transportation industry wins when it comes to having the highest engagement in email opens. Their average email open rate is 30.95%, compared to 30.69% in 2018. In this industry, 7.06% of our customers use personalization in the subject line (the Legal industry had the highest use of personalization with 11.02%).
Top 3 industries for email open rates:
👎 Open rate decreases
Last year, the Government industry held the title of best opens with 34.79%. In 2019, their open rate visibly weakened (-11.27%). Their open rate in 2019 is 30.87%, though it still makes them the second-best industry in terms of opens. Surprisingly, this industry uses the least personalization of all industries (though later you’ll read how personalization does help to improve your open rate).
The Computers and electronics (15.06%) and Music and musicians (16.14%) industries show the least opens. However, musicians did improve their open rate significantly compared to last year, where the average was just 12.09%.
The Consulting industry wins when it comes to improving their open rates. Their average email open rate increased by 39.24% compared to 2018.
👍 Click rate increases
Not only does the Travel industry have the highest open rate, but they also win in the category best click rate with 7.85%. In 2018, they also took #1 with 7.03%.
Top 3 for click rates:
👎 Click rate decreases
Though their open rate of 19.37% is not the worst of all industries, the click rate in the Politics industry does come in last. This year’s click rate (1.25%), however, is higher than last year’s (1.02%). Notable is that the average bounce rate in this industry dropped from 2.34% in 2018 to 0.74% now.
The Architecture and Construction industry managed to up their average click-through rate by an impressive 95.92%, increasing from 1.96% in 2018 to 3.84% in 2019.
👍 Unsubscribe rate increases
Though one might hear about this industry and associate it with unwanted advertising, it’s actually the Telecommunications industry that shows the smallest amount of unsubscribes with 0.10%. What’s even more surprising, is that they have an average list size of over 5,000 recipients (the second largest of all industries). This shows that their content is very relevant to their audience.
The Telecommunications industry is followed by the Deals and coupons and PR and advertising industries.
Top 3 for unsubscribes:
👎 Unsubscribe rate decreases
In this category, there weren’t any clear patterns that could give us more insights into why the unsubscribe rate loss was especially bad for these 3 industries. For the worst-performing industry, Construction, it should be noted that they hardly used personalization and showed a high bounce rate (2.11%) too.
In the Insurance and Beauty and personal care industries, about 10% each of the customers used personalization (which puts them in the top 5 of all industries), though that still didn’t result in relevant enough content.
👍 Bounce rate increases
The Telecommunications also shows in this category that they’re doing a good job of maintaining a healthy email list. Their bounce rate is 0.16%, the lowest of all industries. On average, these companies send 1 email every month.
Top 3 for bounce rates:
👎 Bounce rate decreases
The Manufacturing industry might not send their newsletters regularly enough or can improve their list maintenance. Their high bounce rate of 2.12% shows that there are a lot of invalid email addresses on their subscriber lists. On average, there are 60 days in between each email they send. If you send an email every 2 months, your bounce rate is naturally higher due to email addresses becoming inactive in between.
Not only did the Architecture and Construction industry increase their average click rates significantly, but they also lowered their bounce rate from 3.97% in 2018 to 1.34% in 2019.
If your current metrics are falling below the industry standards, don’t worry! We are passionate about providing the tools to help you succeed in email marketing. Our features are designed for any type of user no matter your skill level.
Here are 4 ways you can get your email success metrics on the right track.
The open rate shows the percentage of the total subscribers that opened the email campaign.
If your open rates are low, the first thing to look at is your subject line. The key here is relevance. Trying to entice readers with a catchy headline is actually not as effective as being descriptive.
One tactic that we see working well is to personalize the subject line (for example by using the recipient’s name). From our benchmark data, we compared the top 10 best and worst industries when it comes to open rates. The top 10 best performing industries used personalization more often, resulting in 1.3% better open rates. So if you can add it, try it out!
Here's how you can improve your email open rate:
The email click rate shows you the percentage of people who clicked on a link somewhere in your email. These clicks show how relevant your content is and if it triggers people to engage with your content.
Every email you send is valuable to a portion of your subscribers, but most of the time it isn’t important to everyone. By segmenting your list into smaller groups, you will have much better open and click rate. Email marketing is all about targeting the right message to the right audience.
When we compared the open rates of the top 10 best and worst-performing industries, we noticed that the best performing industries on average send to recipient lists that were twice as small. This shows that they segment their lists more.
The same counts for unsubscribes, those with the lowest amount of people unsubscribing also sent their emails to smaller lists, meaning: segmentation.
Sometimes you need to help your readers with a little nudge. If they don’t realize that you want them to click, they probably won’t. A strong call-to-action (CTA) is the best way to motivate readers to go deeper and engage. Check out our post below about best practices for using a CTA.
This is how you can improve your email click-through rate:
The unsubscribe rate is the percentage of people who click the unsubscribe link in your email. Though it means fewer recipients, each unsubscribe does help you to improve your email content. Don't stress too much about unsubscribes, but do make sure the number doesn't increase over time.
Bounced emails are addresses that could not be delivered successfully to recipients of email marketing campaigns. For various reasons, the recipient’s server will return the newsletter to the sender, hence the term “bounce“. In this article, we'll explain the difference between soft and hard bounces.
Here's what you can do to decrease unsubscribes and bounces:
Another tip: instead of sending out your email campaign at the same time, create an automated flow that delivers your email to each individual at the perfect time. Sound too technical? It’s not hard to do with MailerLite’s user-friendly automation feature.
Apart from sending your email at the best possible time, it also helps to send your newsletter regularly. Our data found that people who send their emails frequently tend to have a lower unsubscribe rate.
The top 10 industries with the lowest unsubscribers sent around 1 email every 18 days. The highest unsubscribe industries sent emails every 36 days on average. The same result was shown for bounces, the worst 10 industries send 1 email every 31 days, the best 10 send 1 email every 20 days.
Both these findings tell you it’s a good idea to send email campaigns regularly to stay top of mind and keep your list healthy. You can test what’s your personal time interval sweet spot by using A/B testing (more on this later).
If you are not sure what works, try split testing different parts of the email. It’s important to only test 1 thing at a time so you can know the exact variable that is making the difference. Try testing the subject line first to improve open rates or the call-to-action to improve your clicks.
By understanding these email industry-standard benchmarks, you can set up smarter campaign goals and work to improve your email tactics.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in February 2019 and has been updated with 2019 benchmark data.
I’m Megan, Content Writer at MailerLite. You can find me in Berlin, NYC or somewhere escaping winter in Asia. I have helped many start-ups grow their online visibility. Blogging has always been my thing—from running artist fan pages as a teenager to now discovering upcoming talent on Sign This Kid.