Real-World Education for Modern Marketers

Join Over 600,000 Marketing Professionals

Start here!
Text:  A A

Email Open and Click Rates: Benchmarks and Trends


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.

Open Rates by Industry

Consumers were more receptive to email messages issued by the computer software industry, with the top performers in that industry achieving open rates of 55.0%.

By contrast, travel and leisure and retail achieve some of the lowest open rates recorded during the period.

Silverpop also examined the number of opens per opener across the different regions. The results demonstrate how users tend to open emails more than once, possibly scanning emails via mobile device before later viewing relevant ones via desktop:

Click-Through Rates

CTR is defined in the report as the number of unique clicks on links in the email message divided by the number of delivered emails in a campaign.

The average CTR across the regions was 5.2%, though Canada achieved just 3.8% compared with 5.4% in the US and 5.1% in EMEA.

Among various industries, computer software was once again a strong performer, although media and publishing led the pack.

CTR performance achieved by the computer software, media and publishing, and consumer services may be due to a tendency among those industries to deliver content lighter on sales-related messaging and heavier on news, information, and educational materials, according to the report.

Unsubscribe Rates

A good indicator of reader disengagement, unsubscribe rates are defined as the percentage of delivered email messages that generate unsubscribe requests.

Across the regions, the average unsubscribe rate was fairly low at 0.31%, though it climbed to 1.05% for the worst performers.

Looking at unsubscribe rates by industry, travel and leisure registered a particularly high rate, which rose to 6.77% in the bottom quartile. Computer software was again a top performer, though nonprofits recorded the lowest average.

The results for the travel industry are likely due to the nature of the industry—people often subscribe when researching or booking a vacation, then unsubscribe once the trip is complete.

*Open rates, calculated on the basis of opened messages, include emails in which images were enabled, as well as "implied opens" on text messages that recorded  a click on a link or an HTML message whose viewer didn't enable images but clicked on a link.

About the data: Findings for the 2012 Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study are based on the analysis of email messages sent in 2011 (all four quarters) and the first quarter of 2012 by Silverpop's Engage client base. Researchers looked at all messages sent by 1,124 brands from 20 countries.

Join over 600,000 marketing professionals, and gain access to thousands of marketing resources! Don't worry ... it's FREE!


We will never sell or rent your email address to anyone. We value your privacy. (We hate spam as much as you do.) See our privacy policy.

Sign in with one of your preferred accounts below:


Rate this  

Overall rating

  • This has a 5 star rating
  • This has a 5 star rating
  • This has a 5 star rating
  • This has a 5 star rating
  • This has a 5 star rating
1 rating(s)

Add a Comment


  • 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:

  • 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 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.

MarketingProfs uses single
sign-on with Facebook, Twitter, Google and others to make subscribing and signing in easier for you. That's it, and nothing more! Rest assured that MarketingProfs: Your data is secure with MarketingProfs SocialSafe!