Email Open Rate Benchmarks (2021)
How do you know if your emails are any good?
If you do any email marketing, knowing how your email campaigns are performing is key. What’s your open rate? What’s your click through rate? Did you get the conversions you wanted? What’s your bounce rate and what’s your spam report rate? And of course, how does your email performance compare to that of others?
What you need to know about Open and Click Through Rates- Benchmarking
One of the things we do regularly here at Mingl Marketing and Comfort Media Group is benchmark our client’s email open and click through rates with national metrics. Mailchimp keeps statistics on this across industries, reviewing lists with over 1,000 subscribers or more. They state that the average open rate across all industries is 21.33% in 2019, with click-through rates (CTR) of 2.62%. Campaign Monitor reports lower numbers for 2020, with 18% open rates and a similar 2.6% CTR. While rates vary between industries, both MailChimp and Campaign Monitor report Government as having the best open rates at 26.7%, and e-commerce as having some of the worst, around 12- 15%.
Knowing this, you can look at your data and figure out, on average, how well your email compares to the average campaign, and even benchmark it to emails in your industry. But honestly, who wants to be average? We know our clients would like to be above average, that’s for sure.
Factors that Matter
One of the things we love to do for our clients is develop automated lead nurturing campaigns. We create a great offer on their website- something we know people will be looking for, and answers some of the common questions people have about the product, service or business. When people convert, we then send them a series of relevant, high-quality emails, giving the additional education about the product or service they expressed an interest in. We then look at what emails that person opened, and whether they are ready to become a sales-qualified lead, ready to talk to a sales person about next steps.
We’ve learned that the following factors matter most in making lead nurturing campaigns successful:
- Segmenting and Targeting Your List.
- Educate Your Clients- but don’t talk down to them
- Make each email worth the time to open and read it.
- Keep Calls to Action Simple and preferably one per email
Segmenting and Targeting Your List
As a Hubspot certified partner agency, we make sure that the email we send out to people is targeted to a list of people that are most likely to need the information we’re sending.
We’re all overwhelmed by our email inboxes. People won’t open emails unless they really want to, and they’ll stop opening your emails if you don’t deliver value. Delivering consistent value is important. That said, we all have people on our lists who are inactive, or who haven’t opened a lot of our prior communications. What can you do to “re-activate” interest, or simply decide it’s time to drop those folks from your list before they drop you?
There are times our clients are having a slow period and are interested in generating new leads. A part of their list may have made an initial inquiry, but never opened up a lot of email, or returned a call. In order to figure out whether these folks are still interested, we’ll take that list of inactive leads and send out a survey, or a simple 9 word email, to try to find out whether or not they are still interested in the service or product. This has uniformly helped us “clean” our lists and discover people who just needed a little prodding to continue the buyer’s journey. It also tells us who is no longer interested, and we can stop wasting time and money chasing those people.
Surveys are also a great way to drill down on interests and get feedback, and this can help further segment you list by finding out where people are on the buyer’s journey, and if they ended up making a selection from another provider, you can often get valuable insight about your competition.
Educate your clients- but don’t talk down to them.
No matter what your business is, new clients likely want to know more about you, and why you’re different from the next business down the block. Maybe you have better hours; maybe your staff cares more; maybe you offer a special product they can’t get anywhere else. Honing in on what your clients need to know about your business and sharing that with them through your emails will help the people on your list get to know you better, and help build trust that helps lead to sales.
Email automation, designed to help people move through the buyer’s journey only works if your emails are useful and compelling and not just flashy, salesy crap.
We start our emails off with a paragraph that helps identify the reader’s potential pain point, and then offers a solution- the new educational offer we have created. We then tell them what’s in the guide, and how it could benefit them. The last paragraph offers a way to contact a sales person in case they are ready to make a commitment now rather than later.
This simple formula of identifying a pain point for a customer, offering a solution and a way to convert helps us build trust with the leads, gradually converting them from just marketing qualified leads into valuable sales- qualified leads- all through email automation.
Make Each Email worth the time to open it- and Convert
We all have busy email inboxes, so think of it as a privilege to have your email opened- rather than sit around, gathering virtual dust and cobwebs, or worse yet, end up in a spam or “Skip the inbox” folder. Make it worth the time and effort of the person opening the email! If you craft your emails to deliver people something they want and need, they will do what your email asks of them.
Part of this is crafting a subject line and preview text for your email that is relevant and lets people know what to expect. It can be as simple as “Thank You (insert name)- here’s the information you requested” or “You’re invited” or “Learn more about ______”. Keep in mind the subject line should be short, to the point, and relevant. Hubspot actually has a great article devoted to writing great subject lines you can view by clicking here.
After all, we’re sending someone email for a purpose- we want them to do – convert, engage or buy. That’s why you need to make sure the first impression- the subject line- catches their attention. But delivering on the promise is just as important.
Keep calls to action simple- and preferably no more than one per email.
To that end, keep your calls to action (CTA) simple. Do you want them to download a new offer? Do you want them to read a blog post? Do you want them to sign up for a virtual event? Whatever it is, make sure the email let’s them know why you spent the time to write it in the first place, and why it’s worth their time to engage.
We’ve found over time that using a button as a CTA in an email rather than just a text link seems to lead to more clicks and more conversions. That said, we also have emails where text links convert just as well, but the value of the offer itself seems to matter most.
We’ve also found that when we offer more than one CTA per email, the second one usually gets less clicks than the first. So if you are going to have two offers or calls to action in an email, always put the most important one first.
When you use these guidelines in your email nurturing, your open and CTR will respond. While not every email will be a winner, you can see from the chart from one of our clients below, we’re able to get consistent open rates close to 50% and CTR’s of almost 18%- well above averages across even the most trusted industries.
The bottom line is that your email can- and should have better performance. Look at your performance against national benchmarks and then set your goals. You should be able to outperform your competition, by doing the thing your potential customers most want- delivering them good value and never waste their time with inbox clutter.