Email Benchmarks: Keeping Up with The Joneses

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Understanding the benchmarks for email performance is something most people leave to whatever their neighbor told them. However, knowing what the standards are for your particular industry can be helpful in keeping a realistic expectation, or knowing when something has gone wrong.


My favorite email service provider, Mailchimp, provides a number of helpful resources and research on these benchmarks to help you compare your results with what is happening with your competition. The data that Mailchimp has collected is not only fascinating but really valuable, because 70% of their customers are small businesses with one to ten employees, and the data can be further narrowed by industry. So you are not comparing the results of large corporations who have been able to send tens of thousands of emails and cross test every word and image.

Click rates for the legal industry

The report on benchmarks indicates that within the Legal industry, the average open rate is 17.34% and the average click rate is 2.49%. So if the average campaign is mailed to approximately 300 emails, that would mean that only 51 people will even open it, and only 7 people will click on anything. This can be the result of a lot of issues; inbox filters that sort their email, spam filters, or just too many emails to read.

Don’t take it personally

There are times when my own mother doesn’t get or open my email. These things happen; try not to take it as a personal affront. Keep in mind that the benchmarks for the best open rates were 28% and the best click rates were only 5.7%, which would still only be 84 people opening your email and 17 people clicking (if you sent 300).

How to improve

The industry with the highest results in every category (sometimes by more than 10% greater) was Photo and Video. If you are hoping to compare to these benchmarks and increase your open rates, consider what the Photo and Video guys are probably doing: using lots of compelling visuals.

Benchmarks for subject lines

Looking further through some of the Mailchimp benchmarks for email, there are also results on the subject lines with the best results. The short story with this report is that the word “newsletter” generally has great results, and the subject lines with the worst results included promotions, specials, and coupons. These results may indicate that the average recipient is more interested in a newsletter because it is usually more personal and tells them about you and your firm. Whereas in the case of a subject line with a promotion, you are playing your hand from the start and allowing them to decline your email before they open it. To conclude, the best methods for a great email campaign are what you would predict: sticking to more personal messages, including their names in the subject line or within the email, and including images to help pull their eye through your email.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rmgimages/4882451468/)

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