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Email Open and Click-Through Rates: Benchmarks by Vertical

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Education, retail, and computer hardware/electronics are the best-performing verticals in email marketing, according to a recent report released by Silverpop that benchmarked open rates, click-through rates, and churn metrics across 14 industries and four geographic regions.

In addition, top marketers across all industries far outpace their peers—with top quartile performers achieving click-through rates nearly four times higher than the median (8.8% compared with 2.3%). 

Among the other findings: 

  • Emails sent by top performers in the education vertical had the highest unique open rate (46.1%) and highest click-through rate (12.8%).
  • The healthcare vertical had the best click-to-open rate (33%), which measures click-through rates as a percentage of messages opened.
  • Bottom quartile performers had a hard bounce rate of 6.9%, while top quartile companies experienced a rate of only 0.1%.

Below, additional email marketing benchmarks and key findings from the 2013 Email Marketing Metrics Study:

Open Rate

Unique open rate  was defined in the report as the percentage of received messages that were opened by one recipient.

  • Consumer products scored the highest open rate among industry verticals, tallying a median 25.4% unique open rate.
  • While median open rates were fairly close across the board, top quartile performers achieved open rates more than four times higher than bottom quartile performers.

Click-Through Rate

Click-through rate (CTR) was defined as the percentage of delivered email messages that drew at least one click.

  • The education, healthcare, retail and consumer products/services verticals performed the best of the 14 industries studied.

Bounce Rate

Hard bounce rate was defined as the percentage of sent messages that failed because the email address didn’t exist or the account was closed.

  • Across industries, top quartile performers were very consistent, with all segments falling in the 0.1% to 0.2% range.
  • Top performing companies had hard bounce rates roughly one-seventieth that of bottom performers.

Unsubscribe Rate

Unsubscribe rate was defined as the percentage of delivered email messages that generated unsubscribe requests.

  • The best performers had a 0.03% unsubscribe rate across all regions, while the bottom quartile companies had a unsubscribe rate around 0.5%.

Message Size

Message size was defined as the size of an email message measured in kilobytes (KB), including all text, images and coding.

  • The majority of companies are keeping messages below 40KB with a median size of 15.9KB.

About the research: The study examined messages sent in 2012 by Silverpop’s client base—2,787 brands from 40 countries across a variety of industries. A broad set of message types was included in the study, from promotional emails and content-based newsletters to notifications and transactional messages.

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Ayaz Nanji is an independent digital strategist and a co-founder of ICW Content, a marketing agency specializing in content creation for brands and businesses. He is also a research writer for MarketingProfs. He has worked for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, AOL, and the New York Times.

LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji

Twitter: @ayaznanji

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  • by adike vijayalakshmi Mon May 13, 2013 via mobile

    Wonderful analysis data for to proceed. Marketing ads development

  • by Bryan Mon May 13, 2013 via web

    What is/are the average list sizes sent to? Doesn't that have to factor in to the percentages? Obviously a sender who has 1,000 in their send list will have a much higher percentage open rate and click thru rate compared to those who may have 10,000 in their database. I'd like to see the bell curve on list size compared to the above percentages.

  • by Cheryl McCullough Mon May 13, 2013 via web

    Some very interesting information. I know these are based on research but there's no reason every company can't have high rates no matter what industry they are in.

  • by Mon May 20, 2013 via web

    Thank you for this information. Do you have any stats on Deliverability Rates? Please let me know.

  • by Jean@Spider Thu May 30, 2013 via web

    I wonder if web vs. mobile would add an interesting dimension to these results?

  • by Henrik Tue Jun 4, 2013 via web

    Great post. Somewhat difficult to draw conclusion though, considering the variety of underlying email formats. Would you have any stats for B2B marketing mails?
    All the best

  • by Sofia Andretti Wed Jun 12, 2013 via web

    I appreciate your article. This is the kind of information I am looking for. For travel industry, I also found a rate of .08% CTR for Flash ads, .09% for static ads. Source: DoubleClick for Advertisers, EMEA advertisers, a cross section of major industry verticals only. January - December 2009. Can you explain the difference between this number and your number of 2.1% average CTR for Travel? Thanks!

  • by Ayaz Nanji Wed Jun 12, 2013 via web

    Sofia - I think the CTRs you're citing are for ads (as opposed to email CTRs in this article). That should explain the discrepancy. Thanks for commenting!

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