Email is a core marketing channel for brands of all shapes and sizes, in nearly every industry and vertical imaginable. As such, email performance can have a huge impact on overall marketing success and organizational growth.
But how can you tell if your email program is delivering the results it should? You compare your own email key performance indicators against other, similar organizations and see how you stack up. These email marketing campaign statistics will help you determine where you can focus your efforts when building your email strategy for 2021.
If you’re beating the average, you have a strong foundation to build on, but you can still achieve incremental improvements—and sometimes, major leaps of improvement. If you’re a little behind the pack, it’s a sign you have a lot of room to improve your strategy and see some big gains.
We analyzed over 100 billion emails sent globally between January and December 2020 to equip you with the email marketing effectiveness statistics you need to evaluate your own email marketing results. These campaigns were sent by CM Group customers across the globe.
In a year defined by rapid change and unexpected developments, the way brands and subscribers used email changed in dramatic and fascinating ways compared to the email benchmarks by industry in 2019 and previous years.
Check out the data yourself, and download our comprehensive guide where we analyze the benchmarks in detail and provide actionable tips for beating them.
Email benchmarks by industry and day
Average email benchmarks for all industries
A high-level overview of overall email marketing statistics for 2020:
- Average open rate: 18.0%
- Average click-through rate: 2.6%
- Average click-to-open rate: 14.1%
- Average unsubscribe rate: 0.1%
Email benchmarks for all industries
Here’s how these KPIs breakdown by industry for average metrics across all industries globally. Compare your own email reports to the averages in your field—how do they hold up?
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Email benchmarks by day
Average email benchmarks by day
Taking averages across all campaigns sent globally—regardless of industry—you can see how these campaigns perform by day of the week.
Best days for email marketing
In a departure from previous years, the examination of 2020 email marketing statistics by day shows that benchmarks did not vary greatly throughout the week. However, one day did stand slightly above the rest in terms of performance.
- Best day with highest email open rates: Friday (18.9%)
- Best days with highest click-through rates: Friday (2.7%)
- Best days with highest click-to-open rates: Wednesday and Friday (14.4%)
- Email unsubscribe rates were virtually identical throughout the week (0.1%)
What does this trend mean, and how should you react? We examine the data further in our guide, 2021 Benchmarks: Key Insights to Shape Your Strategy.
Worst days for email marketing
Based on the global averages by day shown above, these are the worst-performing days for sending. While this data is academically interesting, you should carefully consider your own audience and run email tests before blocking entire days off your campaign calendar.
- Worst day with lowest email open rates: Saturday (17.3%)
- Worst days with lowest click-through rates: Saturday (2.4%)
- Worst day with lowest click-to-open rates: Tuesday (13.5%)
Compare benchmarks between regions
It’s fascinating to see how subscribers around the world respond slightly differently to email communications. Here’s how the global email marketing effectiveness statistics compare to some major regions.
We’ll be doing in-depth analysis for each of these regional email marketing results throughout the year. Stay tuned!
Understanding email marketing metrics and how to improve them
Email open rate
Email open rate is the percentage of the total number of subscribers who opened an email campaign.
These rates can vary depending on the subject line and the relevancy of the subject matter for subscribers, but we found an average open rate of 18.0%.
How to improve your email open rate:
- Improve your subject lines
- Test subject line length, tone and content
- Optimize for previews with preheader text
- Test sender name and email address (ex. company name vs. CEO’s name)
- Test send day, send time, and send cadence (ex. daily vs. weekly)
- Ensure relevant content through personalization and segmentation
Email click-through rate
The email click-through rate is the number of subscribers who click on a link or image in your email out of all the total emails you’ve sent, regardless of whether or not the subscriber opened the campaign. Your click-through rate will be smaller than your click-to-open rate since it’s calculated using the larger number of total emails (versus just those who have opened).
Your click-through rate offers insight into how many of your total subscribers are visiting your website and ultimately converting from email. Comparing your open rates, click-to-open rates, and your click-through rates can reveal where your email marketing campaign is weakest.
We found an average click-through rate of 2.60%.
How to improve your click-through rate:
- Create stronger segments so you always send the most relevant content
- Maintain your brand voice throughout your messaging
- Improve your calls-to-action through clear copy and better design
- Offer strong incentives to capture subscribers’ attention
- Ensure your subject line accurately reflects the content of your emails
- A/B test what works
Email click-to-open rate
The email click-to-open rate is the percentage of email viewers (those that open an email) who click on a link or image within an email. The email click-to-open rate may be considered a measure of the immediate response rate of an email.
It’s often a key metric used to measure the success—or lack of success—of a specific email campaign. We found an average email click-to-open rate of 14.10%.
How to improve your email click-to-open rate:
- Make sure your email renders well across devices
- Collect the right data to segment and personalize
- Optimize your email design and copy
- Include an irresistible, easy-to-click call to action
- A/B test each email element individually
- Automate your emails to scale what works
Unsubscribe is the action a user takes to opt-out of getting any more emails. The percentage of people who unsubscribe is often displayed as a reporting number on each email campaign you send.
This is an important number to study on every campaign to see if certain topics, subject lines, or templates drive up your unsubscribe number, as this is an indicator of an unhappy or disinterested audience. We found an average unsubscribe rate of 0.10%.
How to improve your unsubscribe rate:
- Grow a healthy list from the start
- Use automation to build long-term brand engagement
- Segment your audience to send more relevant emails
- Re-engage your audience to maintain list hygiene
- Remember that some list churn is normal and healthy
Email bounce rate
A bounced email is an email that couldn’t be delivered. Specifically, it’s an explanation of delivery failure related to server or spam issues, whether these issues are permanent or temporary.
Typically, bounce rate is a metric expressed as a percentage of subscribers who didn’t receive your message. There are two types of bounces: hard and soft.
How to improve your email bounce rate:
- Don’t send to stale lists
- Never use purchased lists
- Remove invalid email addresses
- Use confirmed opt-in
- Never use free webmail addresses
- Avoid spammy content
- Suppress previous bounces
Email deliverability is the ability to deliver emails to subscribers’ inboxes. It’s what some marketers use to gauge the likelihood of their email campaigns reaching their subscribers’ inboxes related to actual delivery.
Issues with ISPs, throttling, bounces, spam issues, and bulking hurt your deliverability and thus reduce the number of your emails that will land in your subscribers’ inboxes.
That’s why your deliverability will impact everything from open rate to clicks to spam reports, so prioritizing this will have a huge impact on your email marketing success.
How to improve your email deliverability:
- Send using custom authentication
- Using double rather than single opt-in
- Make it really easy to unsubscribe
- Avoid using URL shorteners
- Don’t send from a free domain email address
- Don’t send emails with too many images
Takeaways to improve your email marketing
Email marketing continues to perform well, bringing in major ROI for brands. Owning your data and connecting with customers where they already are—in their inboxes—can be huge factors when it comes time to measure the success of your marketing methods.
We often hear from customers that they know email marketing works, but they aren’t sure exactly how to tap into the channel to see the results they need to keep their brand growing. With these benchmarks, you can see exactly how your email strategy compares, and where a little bit of time and focus will lend itself to the biggest results.
Notes about terminology
Whenever you see us discussing “Averages,” we find these averages using all campaigns. Some industries send more emails than others, so we calculate averages by all campaigns sent, regardless of industry.
You’ll also see an “Unknown” category in the list of industries. These are Campaign Monitor accounts that don’t fit into a particular industry, or the industry for these accounts isn’t listed.
If you’re not sure what individual metrics entail or how they’re being measured, you can learn about email metrics at length in a guide.