2021 Email Marketing Benchmarks

Article Updated January 29th 2021

Getting Email Marketing for the New Year

The year 2020 has solidified its spot in the history books, unleashing a new era for business and industry. In the wake of a global pandemic, businesses have experienced a cataclysmic change, forcing a pivot to operations, strategies, and communication. In a world where social distancing has become an integral part of our lives, businesses have begun to understand the importance of communication channels on an unprecedented level. A marketing channel that saw a drastic change in the way businesses and brands used it was email. All of this brings change to 2021 email marketing benchmarks.

Email is one of the most versatile core marketing strategies businesses in all sectors have at their disposal. Email marketing campaigns have shown to be extremely cost-effective, and their performance can coincide with an organization’s growth and success. With uncertainty looming over the heads of businesses around the world, adjusting their email marketing strategy could be necessary to ensure vitality in the industry. To make certain you are making the most of your email marketing efforts, we will be looking at email statistics and success indicators of the past year. Through this email marketing report, we hope to provide you with the appropriate information that will help you achieve your 2021 email marketing benchmarks.

Let us look at a few of the key email marketing metrics, their effectiveness in the last year, and how we can improve them in 2021, and if you haven’t added your domain to Google’s Postmaster Tools, do that as soon as possible!

Email Open Rate

This metric is pretty straightforward; it is the percentage of the total number of readers or subscribers who opened an email in the campaign compared to the total number of recipients.  

This benchmark saw a global average of an 18% open rate, with industries such as government & politics, financial services, healthcare services, and wellness & fitness leading the pack.

This benchmark tends to see fairly regular trends. For example; there seems to be an inverse relationship between list size and open rate percentage; the higher the list, the lower the open rate. Organizations that boast an enthusiastic or supportive culture tend to do well with open rates, including churches, sports teams, and non-profits. More niche companies also tend to do very well.

2021 Email Marketing Benchmarks

Some ways to improve businesses’ open rates:

  • Improve subject line
  • Use A/B testing to compare different variables in the campaigns
  • Deliver relevant content
  • Optimize pre-header text to help influence the reader to open

Email Click-Through Rate

The email click-through rate (ECTR) is a metric that helps you analyse how the reader is engaging your emails. It is the number of subscribers who click on a link or image in your email out of the total emails you have sent. Optimizing ECTR helps improve the bottom line. If the ECTR is less than 1%, you may want to consider having one of our specialists at PaintedRobot take a look at your email marketing setup.

This benchmark saw an average email click-through rate of 2.6% globally. Industries such as media, entertainment & publishing, agriculture, fishing & hunting, and real estate saw their moment in the spotlight with larger than average click-through rates in 2020.

Some ways to improve businesses’ click-through rates:

  • Segmentation is key to providing your audience with the appropriate content
  • Consistent brand message and voice
  • Create a captivating email design

Email Click-To-Open Rate

The email click-to-open rate (CTOR) is a benchmark used to indicate the effectiveness of a specific email campaign and whether or not it elicited enough interest in the recipient to take action immediately. It is the percentage of those that open an email and click on a link or message within that email. This is where the CTOR and the CTR differ. The CTOR is calculated using the number of people who open the email, whereas the CTR uses the total number of emails sent. Therefore, the CTOR will be a higher percentage.

The average email CTOR was 14.1% globally with success in this benchmark coinciding with success in the previous two.

Some ways to improve businesses’ click-to-open rates:

  • Improve mobile-friendliness
  • Keep segmentation and personalization a priority
  • Use an easy-to-click call to action
  • Utilize automation technology and email marketing services

Other variables to consider when analysing your email campaign success and benchmarks are the deliverability and send day. Landing your emails in the inbox of your audience and avoiding bouncing or spam issues is crucial to the success of your campaigns. While benchmarks do not drastically change throughout the week, there was a trend that saw a certain day of the week benefit email performance more than the rest. Friday saw the highest performance of email campaigns during the week, and Saturday saw the worst. All industries are different and this information might not serve your businesses’ audience, but it is an interesting factoid to consider.

These metrics are designed to give you the proper insights that can help you pivot your email strategies and help you hit your email marketing conversion rate benchmark. While the elements of the campaign are vital for any successful marketer, it is just one half of the email marketing equation. The written content of the emails is the other crucial half that we want to explore today. With that, let us look at some email writing tips:

Tips For Writing Email Marketing Content That Converts

In today’s digital age there exists a plethora of tools at every marketer’s disposal. Google Analytics, Zoho Campaigns, Sendgrid – you name it. Despite the new and shiny tools coming out each month, email marketing remains a tried and true method for converting new customers. With more than 3.9 billion email users worldwide, and an average ROI of $42 for every $1 spent on email marketing, this is a tool you can’t afford to ignore.

2021 Email Marketing Benchmarks Tips
Toy bricks on the table

In this section, we’ll cover some important content tips for writing email marketing content to ensure your emails convert. Let’s begin:

1. Get Personal

Nothing is more tragic than a qualified lead hitting “unsubscribe” after receiving an email the marketing team worked endless hours on to perfect. With personalized subject lines alone, you can increase email open rates by 50%. Here are a few other ways to get personal:

Set up behaviour-triggered emails. Compared to regular emails, behaviour-driven emails have a 152% open rate – that’s huge! The beauty of these emails is that they can be automated, and sent out based on a variety of actions, including form completion, product purchases, or downloads.

Respect different time zones. A Montreal customer might be happy to receive an email from you at 9 AM. Your newly acquired prospect in Japan who receives the email at 10 PM; however, might not feel the same. Email marketing tools nowadays are incredibly smart, and allow the possibility to segment lists based on location or time zone. Sending emails in batches according to local time shows customers and prospects respect, and increases the likelihood of a recipient reading your mail.

Address the contact by name. Customers are far more likely to open and interact with an email if the headline, or even better, the subject line contains their name. It’s scientific fact that our eye catches our own name much more easily than any other marketing pick-up line.

2. Add Interactive Media

Humans are curious by nature. The way we pick up, touch, and smell things at the grocery store is the same way many of us interact with an email – albeit digitally. By adding interactive media to marketing emails, like infographics, buttons, videos, or animations, it provides greater incentive for the user to read the content and stay on the page. Video content alone has the power to increase click rates by 300%.

3. Nail the Subject Line

When an email lands in the inbox the first thing most of us do is read the subject line and preview text to determine whether it’s worth opening. Text like “buy now” or “last offer” might elicit a groan, an eye-roll, and an immediate boot to the junk box. Subject lines are tricky because in only a handful of words you must convince the user that the email is worth reading. Here are a few helpful subject line tips to ensure click-happy customers:

• Put important information at the beginning of the phrase
• Keep it short and to the point – don’t try to convey more than one idea
• Eliminate filler words like “that,” “the,” or “hello”
• Use logical keywords that will make future inbox searching easy
• Check and double-check spelling – nothing says DELETE NOW faster than a typo in a subject line

4. Write Copy for Readers, not Robots

It’s easy to forget that on the other end of an email is an actual human being. Even though your email list might be comprised of hundreds, even thousands of recipients, each one of those recipients is a person with opinion and emotion. When writing marketing copy for emails, this should always be at the back of your mind. The most impactful content is written directly for the consumer, using language they understand and are familiar with. Achieving this requires a deep knowledge of the target audience – occupation, nationality, age, gender, buying patterns, income…Before you write, know who you are writing to.

5. Keep it Goal-Oriented

Each marketing email should have a purpose. If this purpose isn’t clear to the marketing team, it won’t be clear to the recipient. Successful marketing emails tackle one goal per email – whether it is completing a form, purchasing a product, signing up for a newsletter, registering for a demo, or entering a contest. Each element on the page should further encourage the user to complete the goal. Many people will only skim an email, making it even more crucial to have this desired action clearly defined throughout the copy.

The most effective tips for writing email marketing content is to keep it simple, keep it concise, and address the audience on a personal level. Keep content jargon-free, ensure copy is proofread (at least twice!), and include visually stimulating graphics to increase the chance of conversions. To learn more marketing tips and tricks, check out our article, Email Marketing: The Ultimate Guide.

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