Megan from MailerLite

Megan13 min readTips and resourcesJanuary 22, 2020

The 2019 email marketing benchmarks by industry

The 2019 email marketing benchmarks by industry

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%

2019 email marketing average benchmark stats

IndustryOpen rateClick rateUnsubscribe rateBounce rate
Agriculture and food services27.17%4.40%0.26%0.34%
Architecture and construction21.54%3.84%0.32%1.34%
Arts and artists24.38%4.03%0.35%0.32%
Beauty and personal care22.49%2.96%0.52%0.62%
Business and finance22.81%2.86%0.45%0.67%
Computers and electronics15.06%1.69%0.29%0.31%
Creative services and agency24.19%3.66%0.36%0.37%
Daily deals and e-coupons18.42%3.43%0.15%0.18%
Education and training25.46%3.94%0.28%0.45%
Entertainment and events18.17%2.62%0.23%0.26%
Health and fitness22.22%2.75%0.33%0.28%
Home and garden25.96%6.29%0.24%0.22%
Marketing and advertising18.42%2.57%0.23%0.18%
Media and publishing22.82%4.33%0.24%0.26%
Medical, dental and healthcare21.59%3.31%0.32%0.75%
Music and musicians16.14%2.19%0.25%0.60%
Photo and video25.49%3.17%0.50%0.58%
Public relations23.55%2.79%0.16%0.34%
Real estate25.87%3.25%0.36%1.08%
Recruitment and staffing20.56%3.63%0.26%0.81%
Software and web app21.73%1.28%0.32%0.43%
Travel and transportation30.95%7.85%0.27%0.33%

Open rates email industry benchmarks 2019

👍 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:

  1. Travel and transportation (30.95%)
  2. Government (30.87%)
  3. Insurance (29.38%)

👎 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%.

Worst 3:

  1. Computers and electronics (15.06%)
  2. Music and musicians (16.14%)
  3. Entertainment and events (18.17%)
Interesting insight

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 rates email industry benchmarks 2019

👍 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:

  1. Travel and transportation (7.85%)
  2. Home and garden (6.29%)
  3. Hobbies (5.63%)

👎 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.

Worst 3:

  1. Politics (1.25%)
  2. Software and web app (1.28%)
  3. Computers and electronics (1.69%)
Interesting insight

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.

Unsubscribes email industry benchmarks 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:

  1. Telecommunications (0.10%)
  2. Daily deals and e-coupons (0.15%)
  3. Public Relations (0.16%)

👎 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.

Worst 3:

  1. Construction (0.63%)
  2. Insurance (0.54%)
  3. Beauty and personal care (0.52%)
Bounces email industry benchmarks 2019

👍 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:

  1. Telecommunications (0.16%)
  2. Marketing and advertising (0.18%)
  3. Daily deals and e-coupons (0.18%)

👎 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.

Worst 3:

  1. Manufacturing (2.12%)
  2. Construction (2.11%)
  3. Insurance (1.72%)
Interesting insight

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.

1. Increase the email open rate

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:

  • Personalize the subject line
  • A/B test different variations of the subject line (length, tone, CTA, emoji)
  • Add a preheader
  • Try different sender name variations
  • Send your email campaign from a different email address
  • Play around with sending times (time, days and the interval between campaigns)

2. Increase email click-through 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:

  • Segment subscribers into smaller, more relevant groups
  • Improve the relevancy of your content
  • Double-check if the subject line reflects your email content
  • Design the buttons and links so they're prominently displayed
  • Make the copy and CTA more engaging
  • Offer (better) incentives for people to click
  • A/B test different email scripts to see what resonates more with your audience

3. Decrease unsubscribes and bounces

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:

  • Use double opt-in for signups to grow a healthy list
  • Send your email campaign at different time intervals
  • Send your campaigns more frequently to build a relationship with readers
  • Regularly clean your list with an email validation tool
  • Improve your email content to make it more relevant for your audience
  • Make sure your subject line reflects the content so you meet the reader's expectations
  • Use re-engagement campaigns to win back inactive subscribers

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).

4. Optimize your overall metrics with A/B testing

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.

For those companies that are exceeding these benchmarks, what is your secret? We’d love to hear how you are winning with email marketing!

Editor's note: This post was originally published in February 2019 and has been updated with 2019 benchmark data.

Megan de Graaf

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.