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 the success of your email strategy.
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, click, click-through rate (CTR), bounce, and unsubscribe rates. These email marketing statistics help you determine if your newsletters are breaking through and resonating with your subscribers.
MailerLite has analyzed these metrics across every industry to help you establish realistic benchmarks for your email marketing strategy. 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 to help plan your 2022 campaigns.
Average open rate: 27.91%
% of the total recipients that opened the email.
Average click rate: 3.75%
% that clicked in the email out of the total recipients who were delivered it.
Average click-through rate (CTR): 12.89%
% that clicked in the email out of the total recipients who were delivered and opened it.
Average unsubscribe rate: 0.33%
% of the total recipients who clicked the unsubscribe link.
Average bounce rate: 0.55%
% of email addresses that could not be delivered to successfully.
Email marketers collectively crafted more enticing subject lines in 2021.
Last year saw higher average open rates across all industries (27.91% compared to 25.35% in 2020), but a slightly lower average click rate, which was 3.82% in 2020.
The average bounce rate was much better, dropping from 0.88% to 0.55%, similarly to the unsubscribe rate, which decreased from 0.39% to 0.33%.
New this year is the CTR benchmark, which was 12.89% on average across all industries in 2021.
For this email benchmark edition, we looked at 788K campaigns sent in 2021 by 35K accounts. These campaigns reached 2 billion subscribers in total. Like last year’s benchmark data set, we focused on accounts from the United States and Canada with more than five recipients per account.
Note: Last September, the Apple Mail Privacy Protection went into effect. Apple mail now masks IP addresses and inhibits senders from seeing whether or not recipients opened their emails. While this can affect benchmark results, our data set included campaigns that were mostly sent before these changes. We also only included campaigns where MailerLite’s “open tracking” feature was turned on. Therefore, the Apple privacy changes had minimal effect on the benchmarks.
|Industry||Open rate||Click rate||CTR||Unsubscribe rate||Bounce rate|
|Agriculture and Food Services||27.93%||3.62%||12.97%||0.27%||0.31%|
|Animal Care and Veterinary||32.83%||3.88%||11.83%||0.67%||1.85%|
|Architecture and Construction||22.54%||4.07%||18.06%||0.22%||0.98%|
|Artists and Galleries||27.18%||3.83%||14.11%||0.32%||0.39%|
|Beauty and Personal Care||24.21%||2.79%||11.54%||0.39%||0.39%|
|Business and Finance||32.34%||3.16%||9.78%||0.46%||0.50%|
|Computers and Electronics||27.50%||2.50%||9.08%||0.20%||0.44%|
|Creative Services and Agency||27.05%||3.38%||12.48%||0.37%||0.48%|
|Daily Deals and E-coupons||16.54%||3.76%||22.74%||0.16%||0.14%|
|Education and Training||27.61%||3.47%||12.55%||0.21%||0.41%|
|Entertainment and Events||23.97%||3.15%||13.15%||0.27%||0.36%|
|Health and Fitness||24.37%||2.66%||10.90%||0.37%||0.33%|
|Home and Garden||26.63%||4.86%||18.26%||0.25%||0.30%|
|Marketing and Advertising||23.21%||2.44%||10.49%||0.23%||0.36%|
|Media and Publishing||25.07%||3.84%||15.31%||0.37%||0.27%|
|Medical, Dental, and Healthcare||33.17%||3.57%||10.76%||0.29%||0.60%|
|Music and Musicians||23.55%||2.71%||11.50%||0.55%||0.63%|
|Online Courses and Coaching||29.48%||3.24%||10.99%||0.46%||0.37%|
|Photo and Video||32.40%||3.44%||10.61%||0.52%||0.47%|
|Recruitment and Staffing||34.88%||3.61%||10.34%||0.41%||0.46%|
|Software and Web App||30.09%||1.35%||4.49%||0.39%||0.67%|
|Travel and Transportation||28.76%||3.30%||11.49%||0.33%||0.57%|
The open rate shows the percentage of the total recipients that opened the email campaign.
As mentioned above, the Apple Mail Privacy Protection can affect open rates. However, our 2021 email benchmark open rate data is minimally affected and contains only MailerLite campaigns that enabled the “open tracking” feature.
The open rates of government emails improved each consecutive year. In our first benchmark report in 2019, we measured an average open rate of 30.89%. In 2020, it increased to 39.06% and now it has climbed to 43.70%.
While this development is a dream for email marketers, the reason behind it is far from ideal: as the pandemic continues to linger on, people are more on the lookout for governmental health regulations and guidelines.
Similarly, jobs and health were hot topics in our inboxes. The second-highest open rate was seen in the Recruitment and Staffing industry, while the Medical, Dental, and Healthcare industry took third place.
Recruitment and Staffing (34.88%)
Medical, Dental, and Healthcare (33.17%)
➜ Interesting insight: Aim for quality, not quantity. Looking at accounts in the Software and Apps industry, we spotted a few of them that increased their open rates significantly while downsizing (aka cleaning up) their email lists. Smaller, qualitative lists are better for your email metrics and your wallet!
Similarly to 2020, Daily Deals and E-coupons were at the very bottom with an average open rate of 16.54%—which was slightly higher than the year before (14.50%). This is far below the industry average of 27.91%.
Luckily, industries number two (Public Relations) and three (Architecture and Construction) perform much better with open rates of around 22%.
In the PR industry, email list sizes grew by 42% compared to 2020. However, all accounts that collected more subscribers also saw their open rate decrease by an average of 9%.
Daily Deals and E-coupons (16.54%)
Public Relations (22.13%)
Architecture and Construction (22.54%)
➜ Interesting insight: The big tendency across most industries is that when email lists increase, open rates tend to decrease. This emphasizes the importance of regular list cleaning, using email segmentation, and sending targeted content!
The email click rate shows the percentage of recipients who clicked on a link somewhere in your email out of the recipients who were delivered the email. These clicks indicate how relevant your content is.
Government emails lost their number one spot after two years and came in third with 5.75%.
The Blogger industry climbed up from #2 and leads the pack with an average click rate of 7.17%. Games hold the second spot with 6.74%.
➜ Interesting insight: There were big open rate jumps happening in the Business and Finance industry. Crypto and personal investing was a hot topic in 2021, and many accounts covering these topics saw readers' interest grow. One particular MailerLite customer in this industry had a 14% open rate increase, which was made possible by sending targeted content and using email segmentation.
Though Politics had the worst click rate for two consecutive years, their numbers increased from 1.07% to 2.14%, kicking them out of the top three and onto place #4. Small win!
For Politics, we also saw that list sizes decreased on average and some big senders didn’t send as much or stopped sending emails altogether (probably due to no elections being held in the US).
The Software and Web App industry increased their click rate from 1.27% to 1.35%, though other industries improved their rates as well. Therefore, they still ended up at the bottom.
Insurance is seen in the top three again with 1.38% (compared to 1.54% the previous year) and Public Relations claims third.
Software and Web apps (1.35%)
Public Relations (1.93%)
➜ Interesting insight: Travel and Transportation ranked no #1 in 2018 and 2019 for click rates, while in 2020, their click rates plummeted by -57.50% due to the pandemic. In 2020, their average click rate was 3.30%, which is quite alright compared to the 3.57% average.
Like click rate, the click-through rate indicates how many recipients clicked on a link somewhere within the email, but taking into account recipients that got the email delivered and opened it.
The winner in this category is Daily Deals and E-coupons. It’s the industry with the lowest open rate and the best average CTR of all industries.
How that's possible? The CTR compares clicks based on the open rate, and with 16.54% this industry has a low open rate. So when calculating, 3 clicks on 10 opens results in a higher percentage than 3 clicks on 30 opens.
This result shows that while initially, people are not too enticed to open deals and coupons emails, once inside, they’re more likely to click on a call to action or link.
In places two and three we see the Games and Blogger industries. Both are killing it in terms of click rates and CTR!
Noteworthy is that with an industry average of 12.89%, the CTRs of these three industries are significantly higher. Bravo!
Daily Deals and E-coupons (22.74%)
Similar to their click rate, Software and Web App and Insurance also score low on average CTR. Politics takes the third spot with an average CTR of 7.11%.
Software and Web App (4.49%)
The unsubscribe rate is the percentage of recipients who click the unsubscribe link in your email. Though it means fewer recipients, you can make the best of it using unsubscribe surveys to improve your email content.
Telecommunications maintains its position in the top three with an average unsubscribe rate of 0.13% (it was 0.12% the previous year).
Religion and Sports each have an unsubscribe rate of 0.15%. Especially for Religion this is impressive, as nearly 37K campaigns were sent all together in 2021.
Again we have a complete shake-up! In 2020, Gambling (1.21%), Agency (1.01%), and Mobile (0.95%) had the highest unsubscribe rates. In 2021, it looks a lot different.
This time, the worst-performing industries are Animal Care and Veterinary, Restaurant, and Construction. That being said, none of the rates exceed 1%, which is a sign of improvement.
Furthermore, the Agency industry cut their unsubscribe rate almost in half. It’s now at 0.52% and they went from place two to four.
Animal Care and Veterinary (0.67%)
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“, and it can negatively impact email deliverability. Learn the difference between soft and hard bounces.
For the second time in a row, Daily Deals and E-coupons have the lowest bounce rates with only 0.14%. Last year, this number was 0.21%. This shows that this industry follows good practices when it comes to collecting emails and email list cleaning.
New on the list is Hobbies, with an average bounce rate of 0.24%. Like the year before, Media and Publishing take third place. Their bounce rate further decreased from 0.30% to 0.27%.
Daily Deals and E-coupons (0.14%)
Media and Publishing (0.27%)
There’s good and bad news. The bad news is that the Construction industry remains to be the worst performer in terms of bounces. The good news is that in 2020 their average bounce rate was 4.49%, and last year, it was 1.89%. Talking about progress!
The high unsubscribe rates seen in the Animal Care and Veterinary industry are paired with an equally high bounce rate of 1.85%.
Claiming the third spot this year again is the Agency industry, though it’s worth noting that their rate made a significant drop from 2.11% to 1.05%.
Animal Care and Veterinary (1.85%)
Whether your current metrics are falling below the industry standards or you want to outshine the competition: here are four ways to start improving your email success metrics right now.
If you're wondering whether open rate best practices will still work even though Apple is giving us a hard time tracking results, the answer is yes. So let's get started.
The first thing to look at to improve your open rate is the 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). Our data shows that using personalization in email subject lines can increase email open rates by 1.3%. So if you can add it, try it out!
Another thing to bear in mind is your email cadence. You can fine-tune the number of emails you send out, to generate higher open rates. Some audiences might prefer weekly newsletters, whilst others want to hear from you daily. Get to know your subscribers, and find that optimal sending frequency.
Personalize the subject line
A/B test different variations of the subject line (length, tone, CTA, emoji)
Add an email preheader and give people a compelling reason to open
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) to work out the best time to send your email
For more tips on creating a subject line that sends your open rates through the roof, check out our ultimate guide on writing email subject lines (with 80+ examples)!
By segmenting your list into smaller groups, you will have a much better open and click rate. The best-performing industries segment their lists more, so that they can send the right message to the right audience.
Sometimes you need to give your readers a little nudge. A strong call-to-action (CTA) is the best way to motivate readers to click through.
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
To learn how to make an enticing CTA, check out our ultimate guide on how to create a call to action that works.
You can’t get rid of unsubscribes and bounces entirely, but you can keep them down to a minimum by following these best practices:
Use double opt-in for signups to grow a healthy list and improve deliverability
Send your email campaign at different time intervals
Send your campaigns more frequently to build a relationship with readers, and stick to a regular time (this can lead to lower unsubscribes)
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
Did you know that you can create an automated flow that delivers your email to each individual at the perfect time? It’s really easy to do, following our ultimate guide to email marketing automation.
Remember 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 in the next section).
If you're not sure what works, try split testing different parts of the email. It’s important to only test one thing at a time, so you know the exact variable that's making the difference.
Try testing the subject line first to improve open rates or the call-to-action to improve your clicks.
Take out the guesswork and check out our ultimate guide to email marketing A/B testing.
How did your email metrics compare? Knowing the email benchmarks of other businesses in your industry, you can set up smarter campaign goals and work to improve your email tactics.
In the spirit of "New Year, New Me(trics)", take a moment to decide on one email metric to approve this year. Bonus points if you make it specific, like: "I want to increase my open rate by 20%". Then commit and share your goal publicly in the comments below to keep yourself accountable. 💪
Editor's note: This post was originally published in January 2020 and has been updated with new benchmark data.