What performance is “acceptable” in email marketing?

With targeted email lead generation and nurturing becoming more popular among B2B marketers, many clients ask me what performance levels are considered acceptable? We’re talking about metrics such as unsubscribe, open, and click-through rates. A recent study, the 2009 Digital Marketer: Benchmark and Trend Reporter*, issued by Experian Marketing Services, offers some insight into these questions.

  • Unsubscribe rates drifted downward in 2008, ending at about .08% of total email addresses in January. The decline was attributed to marketers allowing subscribers to self-select mailing frequency and specific types of information
  • Bounce (undeliverable) rates drifted up during 2008 ending slightly below 2% of total email addresses
  • Open rates remained steady throughout 2008 at about 18% of total email addresses, even as email volume increased
  • Click-through rates (those clicking on a link in the email) averaged about 3.5% of those opening the email in 2008

For our clients’ campaigns, we normally see performance that exceeds these results, primarily by incorporating offers for highly relevant content in the email. So compare your campaign metrics to these numbers to assess their performance against industry averages.

To download the study, click here.

Rick Whitmyre

*Data collected by Experian CheetahMail® from January 1, 2008, to December 31, 2008, by monitoring all client programs.