Some Interesting Email Marketing Statistics
Free Shipping Emails Work Best When Planned and Segmented, Study Says

Average Email Marketing Performance for UK SMEs published their first ever large-scale report on average email marketing performance for small to medium sized businesses in various UK industries.

The report is based on more than 216,000,000 emails sent by UK based clients in the 12 months to 31st July 2009. They've only included emails from clients who opted-in to their stats comparison service and who declared their industry type. They've removed any industries with less than 450,000 sends so that the averages are more robust and where relevant they've merged several categories together.

Defining terms

All figures that are used are based on unique user actions - i.e. they only count the same recipient opening a campaign once, if they open that campaign again they don't count that as another open.

  • Open Rate: the percentage of delivered emails that were opened (measured by an image load or link click); i.e. number opened / (total sent - bounces)
  • Clicks: the percentage of delivered emails that had a link clicked; i.e. unique clicks / (total sent - bounces)
  • Unsubscribes: the percentage of delivered emails that result in an unsubscription; i.e. unsubscribes / (total sent - bounces)

For some of the reports they used different ratios, as these are a better way to compare some aspects of campaign performance - these are:

  • Click to Open: the percentage of opened emails that had a link clicked; i.e. unique clicks / opens
  • Unsubscribe to Open: the percentage of opened emails that result in an unsubscription; i.e. unsubscribes / opens

They use these 'x to Open' figures as ways to compare the performance of the actual campaign content because these look at what happens after the first objective of someone actually opening the campaign has been achieved.

Opens, Clicks and Unsubscribes by industry type:

Easily the most requested information, this graph shows average results broken down by industry type.

Unsurprisingly New Media companies (websites, web services etc.) perform strongly. Perhaps more surprising is the very strong performance of Government (both local and national) campaigns but these tend to be very well thought out, informational campaigns with clear calls to action.

Some industries show lower open rates as a result of tending towards more text-based campaigns (unless a user loads images or clicks a link we can't record an open) - Events is a good example of this.

Graph of UK email averages by industry

Who has the best performing campaigns?

This is tough to say as it depends on the desired goal of the campaign. For informational campaigns where there's no click through to a website Open Rate is the clearest indicator, for those who want to direct users to their website then clicks is the clear goal.

To more fairly compare the impact of campaign content (and discount other factors like subject line wording) we compared the Click to Open rate for the same industries, shown in the graph below.

Here we can see that for Publishing and B2C Retail over 25% of the people who open their emails end up clicking through to their website - a good indicator that their content is well tuned for their audience.

Graph of clicks on email campaigns

What about subscriber loyalty?

Unsubscription rate is probably the best long-term indicator of how well an organisation is engaging with its clients. A high rate indicates that something is definitely wrong! Our unsubscription figures include those people who remove themselves by clicking the 'This is spam' button which many of the major ISP's have introduced.

The graph below shows both 'standard' Unsubscription Rate and Unsubscription to Open rate, which is arguably a better indicator of how well the actual content of the campaign is being received.

The good news is that for all industries the general unsubscription rate is well below 1%; however, the data also shows that several industries clearly have a higher churn rate than others and could perhaps benefit from segmenting their mailings more and perhaps revising their content somewhat.

Graph of unsubscription rates for email campaigns

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