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Introduction

We analysed billions of emails sent from the UK between January and December 2019 in order to understand email marketing trends over the past year. This data means that marketers can strategise for 2020 with the hard facts they need to put their best foot forward.

Following evidence-based best practices can help your brand see metrics far and above your industry averages, regardless of where your performance lands right now.

Key takeaways

01 | In a post-GDPR world, the UK’s email marketing engagement is through the roof.

Email is more powerful than ever. Email performed drastically better in 2019 than it did in 2018. Last year’s numbers trended below the global averages. This year, however, the benchmarks for the UK fall much more closely in line with global numbers—and in some cases, even higher.

Compared to last year, the UK saw an improvement in almost all areas. In fact, the only metric that didn’t improve—open rates—only dropped half a percentage point (from 18% in 2018 to 17.5% in 2019).

Furthermore, while some of these benchmarks seem to have only experienced a minor jump from last year, you’ll see a big difference if you look closely: Last year, most industries experienced lower numbers, while a few highly engaged industries boosted the average. This year, most industries experienced better numbers, while a few industries bring the average down.

This means that while the benchmarks seem to have experienced a small change from last year, individual industries improved far more than the average would lead you to believe.

02 | Email drove more people to take action and visit websites in 2019. A lot more.

Click-through rates skyrocketed in 2019. The click-through rates for emails sent in the UK jumped from 0.9% to 2.4%, meaning consumers saw content they wanted to engage with on a deeper level—and a lot of it.

This jump tells us that marketers in the UK tapped into their audience base to discover the type of content their specific readers are looking for when they skim their inboxes. It also reveals that marketers found ways to capture their subscribers’ attention and drive them to action by taking advantage of FOMO, creating urgency in their emails, and even including teasers that require readers to learn more by visiting the site.

Whichever of these best practices email marketers utilized, it worked. And we predict this trend will continue upward over the course of 2020.

03 | Increase in engagement caused a corresponding drop in unsubscribes.

Unsubscribe rates plummeted in 2019, dropping from 2.4% to a stellar 0.2%. That’s a lot of dead weight that marketers no longer have to worry about—or pay for. In fact, it’s the largest shift we saw over the past year for any average in any region.

High unsubscribe rates can indicate that marketers aren’t sending content their subscribers want to receive or that marketers aren’t meeting their subscribers’ expectations.

An improvement in unsubscribes is an improvement in transparency as well as an improvement in understanding your audience. Marketers are tapping into their data to personalize content and recommendations in their emails and following through with every claim and incentive to grow their list.

As a result, unsubscribes have gone way, way down.

04 | Agriculture and Government held onto the top spots by seeing big improvements in their open rates.

Even if your email program performs well beyond these averages, there’s still room for improvement. There’s no cap to just how well your email marketing can perform.

Take the Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting industry and the Government industry for example: Last year they saw the top open rates of 33.6% and 26.5% respectively. But this year those open rates increased to 35.9% and 34.2%.

Those numbers wildly outperform the average 17.5% open rate.

If you follow best practices and curate your email marketing strategy for your specific audience, there’s no reason you can’t continuously improve. One of the most powerful aspects of email as a marketing tool is the ability to constantly refine your strategy—always finding more efficient ways to drive opens, clicks, and ultimately conversions.

05 | Sunday reigns supreme as the worst day for email marketing in the UK.

Sundays saw the worst numbers for open rates, click-through rates, and click-to-open rates while Saturdays saw the highest bounce rates.

But if you’re looking for a quick fix for below average numbers, don’t blame the day of the week. Even as Sunday sees poor performance, the numbers are only slightly below average.

Instead of aiming for a band-aid fix to your email marketing struggles, you’ll need to take a holistic view to find a culprit for low open rates, high unsubscribes, and everything in between.

Chapter 1

UK email benchmarks by industry

Average email benchmarks for all industries in the UK

  • Average open rate: 17.5%
  • Average click-through rate: 2.4%
  • Average click-to-open rate: 13.4%
  • Average unsubscribe rate: 0.2%
  • Average bounce rate: 0.8%

Email benchmarks for all industries in the UK

Here’s the breakdown for average metrics across all industries in the UK.

chart showing metric averages for all industries in the UK by open, click-through, click-to-open, unsubscribe, and bounce rates

Open rates for all industries by day in the UK

This chart examines open rates specifically, showing rates by day of the week and industries in the UK.

chart showing open rate averages for each industry in UK by day of the week

Click-through rates for all industries by day in the UK

This chart examines click-through rates specifically, showing rates by day of the week and industries in the UK.

chart showing click-through rate averages for each industry in UK by day of the week

Click-to-open rates for all industries by day in the UK

This chart examines click-to-open rates specifically, showing rates by day of the week and industries in the UK.

chart showing click-to-open rate averages for each industry in UK by day of the week

Unsubscribe rates for all industries by day in the UK

This chart examines unsubscribe rates specifically, showing rates by day of the week and industries in the UK.

chart showing unsubscribe rate averages for each industry in UK by day of the week

Bounce rates for all industries by day in the UK

This chart examines bounce rates specifically, showing rates by day of the week and industries in the UK.

chart showing bounce rate averages for each industry in UK by day of the week

 

Chapter 2

UK benchmarks by day

Average email benchmarks by day in the UK

Taking averages across all campaigns—regardless of industry—you can see how these campaigns perform by day of the week.

Best days for email marketing in the UK

Based on the averages by day shown above, these are the best days for sending based on specific metrics.

  • Best day for highest email open rates: Wednesday (17.9%)
  • Best days for highest click-through rates: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday (2.4%)
  • Best day for highest click-to-open rates: Saturday (13.6%)
  • Best days for lowest bounce rates: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday (0.7%)
  • Best day for lowest unsubscribe rates: all days were (0.2%)

Worst days for email marketing in the UK

Based on the averages by day shown above, these are the worst days for sending based on specific metrics.

  • Worst day for highest email open rates: Sunday (16.9%)
  • Worst day for highest click-through rates: Sunday (2.2%)
  • Worst day for highest click-to-open rates: Sunday (12.8%)
  • Worst day for lowest bounce rates: Saturday (0.9%)
  • Worst day for lowest unsubscribe rates: all days were (0.2%)

 

Chapter 3

Top industries by specific metrics in the UK

Top industries by open rates

  1. Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting (35.9%)
  2. Government (34.2%)
  3. Real Estate, Design and Construction Activities (27.4%)

Explore more resources on open rates here.

UK benchmarks 2020 top industries by open rate

Top industries by click-through rates

  1. Government (6.0%)
  2. Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting (4.8%)
  3. Real Estate, Design and Construction Activities (4.3%)

Explore more resources on click-through rates here.

UK benchmarks 2020 top industries by click-through rate

Top industries by click-to-open rates

  1. Government (17.4%)
  2. Retail (16.8%)
  3. Media, Entertainment, and Publishing (16.6%)

Explore more resources on click-to-open rates here.

UK benchmarks 2020 top industries by click-to-open rates

 

Chapter 4

How the UK stacks up against the world

These are the average benchmarks broken down by metric so you can see how the UK compares to other regions.

chart comparing open rates, click rates, click to open rates, bounce rates, and unsubscribe rates between global results, united kingdom, australia, and united states

It turns out the UK sees similar performance to averages in the US. However, the UK performs slightly worse than Australia’s benchmarks.

And when compared to global performance, we see the UK’s benchmarks lagging slightly behind—but only slightly.

We expect to see next year’s numbers continue this upward trajectory, as email marketing is well-poised to meet consumer’s needs among increasing privacy concerns and the desire for more personalized experiences.

Chapter 5

Understanding email marketing metrics and how to improve yours

Email open rates

The number of email opens divided by the total emails that reached an inbox will give you your open rate.

While open rates vary from email to email, you can see an improvement in your open rates by varying the content included in the email and the subject line (and don’t forget the preheader text) you used. We found an average open rate of 17.5% in the UK.

Open rates way below average? Here’s how to improve your metrics:

  • Use your subject lines and preheader text together to craft tempting and enticing previews of your emails.
  • Test, test, test to find the tone of subject lines, content, etc. that inspires your audience to open your emails.
  • Find the best day and time to send email campaigns to your specific audience.
  • Segment your list so you only send the most relevant content to each of your subscribers.

Explore more resources on open rates >>

 

Email click-through rate

The number of subscribers who click on a link, button, or image in your email divided by the total number of emails that have been delivered will give you the click-through rate.

This metric can illuminate what type of content, images, and CTAs most resonate with your subscribers. When you know what content receives the greatest engagement, you can tailor your next email to deliver more of the content your audience prefers. We found a click-through rate of 2.4%.

How to improve your email click-through rate:

  • Study what links and images receive the most clicks to discover the content your audience is most interested in.
  • Segment your list into separate groups based on the type of content that leads to the greatest engagement so you can create more specific emails.
  • Ensure your CTAs contain clear, direct copy, then improve the design.
  • Optimise your CTAs by including the right amount of links—not too many and not too few.

Explore more resources on click-through rates >>

 

Email click-to-open rate

While the click-to-open rate is similar to the click-through rate, they aren’t the same. The click-to-open rate finds the percentage of people who click through an email out of the number of opens, instead of the total number of emails delivered.

Click-to-open rates measure how effective the content of your email actually is, since this is the percent of people who click through after viewing your email. We found an average email click-to-open rate of 13.4%.

How to improve your email click-to-open rate:

  • Automate your emails to send exactly what your subscribers want at the precise moment they want or need the email.
  • Personalise your content through better segmentation.
  • Optimise your emails for conversions on mobile devices as well as desktops.
  • Test your CTAs to discover what design, copy, and offers receive the most engagement from your subscribers.

Explore more resources on click-to-open rates >>

 

Email unsubscribe rate

While it’s important to remember that some list churn is normal, healthy, and inevitable, keep striving for the smallest unsubscribe rate possible. An unsubscribe happens when someone who has been receiving your emails decides to opt out, asking to be removed from your email marketing list.

A higher-than-average unsubscribe rate can reveal that your audience no longer finds your content valuable enough to allow you into their inboxes and tell you it’s time to overhaul your email marketing strategy. We found an average unsubscribe rate of 0.2%.

If you need to overhaul your strategy, here’s how you can improve your email unsubscribe rate:

  • Build your list with quality subscribers.
  • Design a welcome series that will acclimate subscribers to your email program, explaining exactly what they can expect to receive and how often.
  • Maintain a consistent send cadence so your subscribers don’t forget subscribing to your email list.
  • Maintain the quality of your email list by sending re-engagement campaigns and providing an in-depth preference center.

Explore more resources on unsubscribe rates >>

 

Email bounce rate

The term “bounce” refers to an email that could not be delivered, whether because of temporary delivery issues or permanent problems with the contact.

Whether the email experienced a hard or soft bounce, your bounce rate is the percentage of subscribers who did not receive your message in their inbox. We found an average bounce rate of 0.8%.

If your bounce rate is above the average bounce rate, here’s what you can do to improve:

  • Clean your list by running a re-engagement campaign.
  • Remove permanently bounced email addresses from your list.
  • Suppress previous bounces.
  • Use a double opt-in to avoid spam signups.
  • Never use purchased lists.

Explore more resources on bounce rates >>

 

Email deliverability

Poor email deliverability can have disastrous results for your email marketing program. If your deliverability gets bad enough, you can even wind up on blacklists and not able to send email at all. Even if your deliverability issues aren’t that extreme, poor deliverability can still reduce your open rates and ultimately your conversions because your emails won’t land in your subscribers’ inboxes.

Poor engagement, being marked as spam, and bounces will all bring down your deliverability.

If you see poor engagement, here’s how to improve your email deliverability:

  • Make sure your ESP has proven deliverability and familiarise yourself with your ESP’s rules and regulations.
  • Improve your engagement in order to prove to email clients that your emails are valuable to recipients.
  • Always use double opt-in to ensure only real email addresses remain on your list.
  • Choose an email cadence based on your open rates and stick to it.
  • Make your unsubscribe process easy so subscribers aren’t tempted to mark your emails as spam.

Explore more resources on deliverability >>

 

Chapter 6

Takeaways to improve your email metrics

While these benchmarks can show you where and how your email marketing can be improved, you can also learn a lot by comparing your own email marketing metrics over the same period of time.

These benchmarks can show you the overall health of your email marketing strategy by letting you compare your metrics to your competitors. But you also need to compare your metrics today to your metrics over time to see the overall trends in your specific program.

After all, every audience is different. Not only is the UK audience different from an Australian audience—or the retail audience different from the government’s audience—but your niche’s audience will be different from your larger industry’s audience as well.

Only you know your audience. If you compare your results to these benchmarks, remember that your industry and specific niche mean you have a unique audience. Testing your content, offers, and strategy will refine your emails so that every send gets you one step closer to your best results possible.

Test out our email builder to see how over 30 billion emails were sent quickly and easily in 2019 with Campaign Monitor.

 

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.

To read up on what each metric means and how it’s calculated, visit this post.

As you’ll see, benchmarks can vary greatly between industries. And there’s no shortcut to seeing improved results from your marketing efforts. Testing and measuring your email results will help you determine how well your email marketing performs. and identify the areas where you can see the most improvement for your efforts.

We hope having this information demystifies email marketing metrics and how you should set—and exceed!—email marketing goals that make sense for your specific brand in your specific industry.

Engage your audience in new ways with Campaign Monitor. Try it out today and see how easy it is to send unforgettable emails with Campaign Monitor. Get started for free
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