The art and science of effective emailing has certainly evolved since the “old days” when marketers would send out bulk emails and hope for the best, but it can still be challenging. The thing businesses owners want most is for recipients to open up their emails and read their messages, and they’re always working on ways to get more people to do more of it. Even though HubSpot posts that it’s hard to get fine-tuned data on email deliverability, using benchmark data can serve as a helpful reference to see what you’re doing right − and what needs improvement.
Email Open Rate Benchmarks
If you’ve never looked at email marketing benchmarks, they show helpful information about the emails that companies send out. Every industry has specific ones that can be compared and analyzed, and the data can provide information about ways to improve strategies plus new opportunities to be taken advantage of. It’s important to keep in mind that open rates aren’t the same thing as click-through-rates though, because even if a user opens up your email, they might delete it without engaging.
Keeping this in mind, an email open is the first most important goal you want to achieve. And if you’re not familiar at all with email open rates, you might be surprised at how many get deleted before being opened at all. Hubspot posts that with all things considered, the average email open rate is 20.94 %. This estimate varies; Smart Insights puts it at 16.97 % and Constant Contact shows it to be 29.87 %. In any case, if you assume that less than 30 % of emails even get opened, you’ll want to focus on finding ways to improve your rate. How do the numbers break down by industry?
Lowest Email Open Rates by Industry
According to HubSpot, the industry with the lowest email open rates are computers and electronics, at 19 %. This includes computer hardware providers, computer games, electrical manufacturing, technology, consumer electronics and nanotechnology. Second is the business industry at 20 % − these are business services such as consulting, writing, editing and content marketing. Computer software companies ranked third lowest at 20 %, followed by media companies (publishing, online media, music) and telecom and internet companies (wireless providers, broadcast media and telecommunications), which tied at 21 %.
Healthcare companies were also at 21 %, and this includes hospitals and health care providers, medical device manufacturers, veterinary services and alternative medicine providers. Retail and shopping companies were higher at 23 %; this category showed fashion and accessories, consumer goods, retail food and beverages, sporting goods, restaurants and luxury goods. Finance companies (banking, investments, private equity, accounting) and manufacturing were also at 23 %.
Which Industries Have Better Email Open Rates?
Business involved in the education industry fared somewhat better for email open rates, with an average of 25 %. This consists of ones in primary, secondary and higher education, civic and social organizations, e-learning, program development and libraries. Real estate was 26 %, and this is no surprise considering the historically low interest rates and unprecedented real estate market of the past years.
Constant Contact also shared some more specific email open rates that are also of interest. They showed exceptionally high rates for niche industries, like 41.23 % for child care. Other high numbers taken from their chart include:
Legal services: 28.64 %
Personal care (hair salons, fitness centers: 30.69 %
Travel and tourism: 32.12 %
Recreation, sports, entertainment: 34.7 %
Religious organizations: 41.15 %
Looking at the higher numbers, one could infer that some industries with more personalized offerings have higher rates. In other words, a company selling B2B computer hardware might have lower email open rates than a real estate broker emailing prospective clients about upcoming open houses in the areas they’re hoping to buy in.
What are Bounce and Click-Through Rates?
Bounce rates reflect the number of emails that aren’t successfully delivered to inboxes. This is due to incorrect, invalid or nonexistent email addresses. High bounce rates can cause email inbox providers to start automatically putting your emails in spam folders; it’s important to have good email practices to avoid this problem. Next are click-through rates, and freshmarketer explains that these show the percentages of contact who end up clicking on links within emails. It’s important to stay on top of this to measure recipient engagement; use this to create content and designs that resonate with your audiences.
It's not surprising that click-through rates are significantly lower than bounce rates; snappy subject lines can get people to open emails but once in, they can quickly lose interest. The industries with the highest click-through rates are manufacturing and health, pharmaceuticals and biotech at around 9 percent; and retail and business services in the 8 percent range. These were followed by media and entertainment, education, computers and electronics, software and internet, retail and construction and telecommunications. Financial services was the lowest, at 6.82%.
How to Write a Great Subject Line
Email subject lines strongly influence open rates, so it’s crucial to devote serious effort to creating great ones. You’ll want to use your research to see how effective your past ones are; HubSpot and other CRM providers offer analytics for this. There are some basics you need to know when writing subject lines, like keeping it short and to the point, using action verbs and including the recipient’s name. Mentioning an offer inside the email can pique recipient interest and lead to higher email open rates, but you don’t want to do that too often.
Privy posts that subject lines can have the actual subject followed by preview text. The latter is a copy snippet that is either next to or beneath the subject line, and the more creative the better. It should be no more than 90 words, otherwise it could get cut off on mobile devices. Another choice is to form the subject line into a question that addresses a specific problem, i.e.: “Are your new shoes pinching your feet?” It’s also good to stay on top of trends (rising interest rates) and play up on people’s FOMO (fear of missing out) on popular trends.