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Email Open and Click Rates: Benchmarks and Trends

July 30, 2012
  |  73,831 views

Average email open rates continued their downward path during 2011 and the first quarter of 2012, though click-through rates (CTRs) increased slightly during the same period, according to Silverpop's Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study.

Among some 20 industries studied, the computer software and media and publishing industries were standout performers during the five-quarter period—recording the highest email open rates and CTRs overall. They were followed by the financial services and consumer services industries.

Below, additional findings from the 2012 Silverpop Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study.

Some key US findings for the five quarters ended 1Q12:

  • Open rates averaged 19.9%, down from a 2009 average of 21.3%.
  • CTRs averaged 5.4%, up from a 2009 average of 4.5%.
  • Unsubscribe rates (0.27%) were in line with previous studies overall, but varied dramatically by industry type.

    For example, the travel and leisure emails were well above that mark, registering a 1.64% unsubscribe rate during the period, whereas nonprofits registered the lowest unsubscribe rate, at 0.10%.

Open Rates


For the study, open rates* are calculated as the number of measured opened messages divided by the number of delivered messages. The average open rate overall was 20.1%, with little variation between the US (19.9%), EMEA (20.9%), and Canada (20.7%).

The dip in open rates is most likely the result of various industry developments, such as email service technology that blocks HTML imagery and features such as Gmail's Priority Inbox (or similar third-party add-ons), according to the report.


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  • by Andrew Wed Aug 1, 2012 via web

    Thanks for sharing these insights – very useful especially as they’re based on actual campaign results.

    Is there any data on the percentage of emails which are targeting consumers (B2C) versus those targeting other organisations (B2B)?

    I ask as there’s an interesting contrast with a study we recently conducted to benchmark performance in B2B marketing contexts. This reveals a similar open rate of 24%. Interestingly though, the click through rate in B2B seems to be much higher – it sits at 13% in contrast to the 5.4% you saw. I wonder if this is because B2B audience might be more engaged with suppliers.

    The study also asked B2B marketers to share their top tips for boosting open and click through rates – seems subject line, content quality, data quality and timing are the key focus.

    Have a peek here if you’re interested in more findings: http://www.circle-research.com/2012/b2b-marcomms/b2b-email-marketing-statis...

  • by @vcotte Vince Cotte Mon Aug 13, 2012 via web

    Great statistics. Good to have a benchmark. Are these based on subscription or outbound targeted campaigns?

  • by mo Thu Aug 30, 2012 via web

    Same question as Vince...it would be nice to know if these numbers include Welcome and transactional emails as well as "bulk" send campaigns. Even better would be to see benchmarks broken out by these different types. Otherwise, you don't know if you are comparing apples to apples to judge your own program's health.

  • by Tim Northen Sat Jan 11, 2014 via web

    Tim with a Consumer Services Multi Online Business. Wondering the best Click Thru Rate using Bing. All
    my emails come from Bing.

  • by Erica Tue Jan 14, 2014 via web

    Great info. What is the median open and click rate for the legal industry? Didn't see it up in the tables.

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