Sometimes it’s nice to compare. To see how your results stack up against other people like you. It can reassure you that you’re on the right track, or spur you on to do more.
For a comparison to be useful though, you need to have something relevant to compare with. When we went looking for examples of email marketing statistics a few years ago, all we could find was data that was for huge companies, or for US businesses. Not much use to our customers, who are mainly UK (and now Australian) based small to medium sized businesses.
“The average open rate has increased to 22.87%”
‘Small to medium sized business’ is a term I don’t particularly like either. Sounds like it’s not a good thing, when I think it is. 99.9% of businesses in the UK fall into this category, so let’s just call them businesses. The big guys are the exception, not us and bigger doesn’t mean better.
Anyway, I digress. We couldn’t find relevant data, so six years ago we set about creating our email benchmark report. We asked our customers to select a sector that best fit them and we then collected and anonymised their email marketing results so that we could create a UK focussed benchmark suitable for most organisations.
We just completed the 2014 edition of our report and it’s our biggest yet. We used data from over 1.5 billion emails sent through Sign-Up.to in 2013 and expanded to 25 different sectors.
This is a relatively substantial increase that has been driven by two major technical changes in the email landscape, along with the adoption of techniques like marketing automation which increase the relevancy of emails to readers.
First, the huge increase in mobile views, which now make up around 50% of all email opens and are still rising. Generally when email is viewed on a mobile, images load automatically – and this shows as an open.
Second, and much more recently (so the impact on this year’s report is small) is Google’s change to loading images in emails viewed through its Gmail web interface automatically, rather than asking the user to allow loading (watch our short video on this here). As with the increase in mobile views the result of this is a more accurate measure of actual opens.
As a result, the level of engagement – best measured by the proportion of people opening an email who then go on to click a link (called the click-to-open rate) decreased slightly from 14.72% to 14.25% but this still means that most sectors actually saw an increase in the overall number of clicks.
The leading business sector this year for open rate was Sport / Leisure (25.75%) very closely followed by Restaurants / Hospitality (25.70%).
Across all sectors, Public Sector departments had the best overall performance, with an average 34.39% open rate.
In future posts we’ll be taking a look at averages for different sectors and things you can do to improve your own results. You might also like to check out our ebook on techniques you can use to improve your email campaigns.