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Email marketing engagement and response statistics 2018

The best email statistics sources to benchmark open and clickthrough rates for your email campaigns in your industry sector

Email marketers often ask "how do our campaigns compare"? They're looking for email statistics to compare subscriber engagement for open, clickthrough and delivery rates, ideally within their sector.

Fortunately, there are a number of good options to benchmark email response across different sectors. The best stats sources are compilations by email marketing service providers who produce statistics across their clients' campaigns. We have ordered them into the 4 top questions asked:

As we'll see, for the most meaningful comparisons we need to go beyond industry averages and drill down to the comparison of email types since transactional emails such as a welcome sequence tend to have much higher interaction and click-through rates than a regular newsletter.

Email Statistics - 2018 update

Q1. What are the email engagement rates for small to medium businesses?

We will continue to update these stats through 2018 as new reports are produced by the main email platforms. The most recent compilation from the 28th Dec 2017 is the Constant Contact Average Email open and clickthrough rates by industry - click to expand.

Do contact us if you're an email provider with new stats to share. Talking of which... Mailchimp has monthly updates of their Email benchmark stats which give a great source of comparing email response by industry. This Email response data was last updated on 1st February 2017 (no updates in 2018 when we last checked).

OpenOpen rate (%)Clickthrough rate (%)Soft BounceHard BounceAbuseUnsub
Agriculture and Food Services24.71%2.98%0.58%0.43%0.02%0.29%
Architecture and Construction24.78%2.90%1.50%1.08%0.03%0.36%
Arts and Artists27.23%2.85%0.61%0.44%0.02%0.29%
Beauty and Personal Care18.48%1.96%0.38%0.38%0.03%0.32%
Business and Finance20.97%2.73%0.66%0.55%0.02%0.23%
Computers and Electronics20.87%2.16%1.02%0.70%0.02%0.31%
Creative Services/Agency22.41%2.61%1.09%0.89%0.02%0.38%
Daily Deals/E-Coupons15.22%2.39%0.10%0.07%0.01%0.10%
Education and Training22.00%2.63%0.55%0.46%0.02%0.20%
Entertainment and Events21.21%2.33%0.49%0.41%0.02%0.28%
Health and Fitness21.93%2.57%0.43%0.44%0.03%0.39%
Home and Garden23.82%3.47%0.57%0.40%0.03%0.37%
Marketing and Advertising17.81%1.92%0.77%0.61%0.02%0.28%
Media and Publishing22.14%4.70%0.28%0.18%0.01%0.12%
Medical, Dental, and Healthcare22.43%2.42%0.72%0.72%0.03%0.30%
Music and Musicians22.86%2.84%0.56%0.42%0.02%0.29%
Photo and Video25.36%3.49%0.71%0.61%0.02%0.40%
Professional Services20.89%2.47%0.92%0.72%0.02%0.31%
Public Relations20.12%1.64%0.80%0.60%0.01%0.21%
Real Estate20.84%1.91%0.61%0.51%0.03%0.31%
Recruitment and Staffing20.73%2.18%0.53%0.60%0.02%0.32%
Restaurant and Venue21.71%1.33%0.53%0.45%0.02%0.42%
Social Networks and Online Communities21.71%3.33%0.37%0.29%0.02%0.23%
Software and Web App20.95%2.29%1.06%0.85%0.02%0.39%
Travel and Transportation20.69%2.17%0.65%0.48%0.02%0.24%
Vitamin Supplements17.26%1.80%0.28%0.22%0.03%0.25%

We do have other industry sector breakdowns of response later in this post, but since Constant Constant and Mailchimp send billions of emails a month for more than 10 million users this is probably the largest global sample of email response that has been created. They are skewed to smaller businesses using their free account options, though.

Q2. What are the Email engagement rates for larger businesses?

The results for Mailchimp are more typical of smaller and mid-size businesses, rather than large brands. This Email benchmark compilation from Silverpop who are now owned by IBM so clients tend to represent larger businesses - they are from 750 companies representing 3,000 brands in 40 countries. So breakdowns by EMEA, UK, US and APAC are available too. I've selected the breakdown by industry which is more useful to compare your performance with. There wasn't an update since the takeover, but we're hoping for an update in the stats this year.

But what is the average email open rate? Here are the open rates with the mean showing the variation from the poorest performing sectors like publishing and tech to consumer brands and non-profits.

Email open rates by industry

Rather than click-through rates that are also available in the report, I have picked out Click-to-open which shows engagement with the copy and creative. As a rule of thumb you should look for 10 to 15% CTOR, so can compare emails against this benchmark.

Click to open rate by industry

Finally, from this benchmark, I thought it would be useful to share the data on list churn as indicated by hard bounce rates and spam complaint rates. You don't want to go too high on these since you could have a problem with inbox delivery and likely your ESP will get in touch.

Unsubscribe rate for email campaigns by country or region

Email complaint rate by country or region

Q3. What is the breakdown of market share for email clients on mobile and desktop?

Litmus, one of the best sources for stats on Email marketing regularly produce a summary of the email experience of different users - this is their start of 2018 round-up of the previous year.

This chart summarising their research shows the rise of mobile email marketing to the point that nearly half of emails are opened on smartphones and tablets. 

The latest Litmus compilation of email client market share shows why it's so important to consider how well your emails render on mobile. It's based on the percentage of opens on different platforms. The uptick in webmail opens is again largely due to Gmail defaulting to open images.

Q4. What is a good open rate? And what is a good click through rate for email?

Across all industries, the average open and clickthrough rate results according to the most recent Sign-up.To Email statistics for UK SME email marketing campaigns were:

Open and click-through rate by sector

Across all industries the average results for UK SME email marketing campaigns were:

  • Open rate: 24.79% (2016: 24.88%)
  • Click-through rate: 4.19% (3.42%)
  • Unsubscription rate: 0.49% (0.52%)
  • Click-to-open rate: 11.88% (10.88%)
  • Unsubscribe-to-open rate: 2.59% (2.72%)

This data shows that open rate has had a slight decrease, click-through and click-to-open rates have slightly increased. While unsubscribe-to-open rates showed a slight decrease.

The 2017 report has a relatively small sample of 1.5 billion emails sent by SMBs during 2016.

But it's a useful report since it has the breakdown of opens, clicks and unsubscribes by industry for B2B and B2C markets. This shows the much lower response in some sectors such as Events, Education and Legal services.

There are also statistics on engagement measured as clicked to open - this info isn't always available in these types of benchmarks. It's useful to compare how effective your creative and offers is at to generating clickthroughs.

Click-to-open rate by sector

Finally, the full report also has a sector breakdown on unsubscribe rates. Again a large difference here by sector.

Unsubscribes by sector

In the Autumn of 2015, we partnered with Email marketing platform GetResponse to benchmark adoption of email marketing techniques. As part of this project, GetResponse has now published one of the first benchmarks comparing email open and clickthrough rates by industry sector. The chart shows that email marketing is considerably more challenging in some sectors such as retail and e-commerce, marketing services and travel compared to others such as financial services and consumer sectors.

Global Open and clickthrough rate Email statistics 2016

You can download the full State of Email marketing 2016 by industry from the GetResponse site - the 2017 update will be released by April 2017.

 Please let us know of other sources we can share in updates here. Thanks!


By Dave Chaffey

Digital strategist Dr Dave Chaffey is co-founder and Content Director of Smart Insights. Dave is editor of the 100+ templates, ebooks and courses in the digital marketing resource library created by our team of 25+ Digital Marketing experts. Our resources are used by our Premium members in more than 100 countries to Plan, Manage and Optimize their digital marketing. Free members can access our sample templates here. Please connect on LinkedIn to receive updates or ask me a question. For my full profile and other social networks, see the Dave Chaffey profile page on Smart Insights. Dave is a keynote speaker, trainer and consultant who is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Digital Marketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing.

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