In Monday's issue of MediaPost's Email Insider David Baker, vice president of email marketing & analytical solutions at Agency.com, talks about e-mail benchmarking. He states that "while charts and reports are unfortunately a necessary part of this business, they may not be the best guide to help gauge the success and growth of an e-mail program."
And he explains why:
"First, these statistics are usually aggregate by category. There is not a clear distinction between companies or brands within vertical and subsequent categories. Then, there's the accuracy of the source of list, method of permission, type of communication, intent, and the fact that the overall sophistication of e-mail marketing by sector is so scattered. It's very rare that all of these factors could line up to provide an accurate reflection of your program let alone a benchmark on which to measure your success.
Next, while statistics might be considered impersonal, they are in fact very personal to you and what it means to your business. Most of the time, there is little context as to what other's benchmarks mean, how they were derived, and if they are unbiased. I often wondered, but could never prove, if the analysts used biased data for the benefit of the report or industry in general, which could be argued with all the differences in how deliverability is being reported today."
In this article he mentions a few guidelines to keep in mind if you do want to benchmark your results.