Email Marketing Benchmarks You Should Aim for in 2020

email marketing benchmarks, email marketing best practices
email marketing benchmarks, email marketing best practices

Our recent post on Email Marketing Best Practices focused on ways to tighten up your email strategy and boost your marketing ROI. 

By offering these simple but effective tweaks to your existing email campaign, our goal was to not only help improve email performance, but maximize customer engagement and produce better returns for your business.

Today, we look to supplement those best practices with hard numbers, email marketing benchmarks to help you understand how your email campaign measures up, what you should expect from your current strategy and the email open, click through and bounce rates your team should be aiming for in 2020.

What are email marketing benchmarks?

Simply put, email marketing benchmarks are metrics your marketing team can use to measure the impact and effectiveness of your existing email marketing campaign. Derived from industry averages for open, clickthrough, bounce and unsubscribe rates, these numbers provide your team data-based goals to pursue and surpass over the months and year ahead, resulting (ideally) in greater email marketing ROI for your organization. 

Common email benchmarking categories include:

  • Average open rate—the percentage of recipients who open emails from your firm
  • Average clickthrough rate (CTR)—the number of users who click on the link embedded in your message
  • Average click-to-open rate (CTOR)—the number of people who clicked divided by the total number of opens 
  • Hard bounce—the number of emails rejected or blocked by the email server for a permanent reason (i.e. the address doesn’t exist)
  • Soft bounce—the percentage of emails rejected for a temporary reason (i.e. full mailbox, oversized message, etc.)
  • Unsubscribe—the number of users that opt-out of receiving messages

Email benchmarks are great for knowing how your email strategy measures up against current industry open and bounce averages. They also provide a clearer picture of the minimums your marketers should be shooting for, putting achievable goals into focus and spotlighting areas your campaign may need a little work. 

How do we set the right email marketing benchmarks for our team?

The email open, clickthrough and bounce rates you should be striving for depend primarily on your industry. Customers interact with emails differently based on where they’re sent from, making it important to set and measure your email marketing benchmarks against the average rates established for your particular field.  

For instance, while HubSpot estimates the average overall open rate for all industries at around 32%, the open rate benchmark you set may be much higher or lower depending on the industry in which you operate. 

Companies in the arts & entertainment field, for example, average an open rate of nearly 50%, while emails from the marketing & advertising industry are opened only about a quarter of the time. 

This doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t or shouldn’t aspire to achieve higher-than-average benchmarks, only that it may be far more helpful and realistic to build your campaign around the industry mean before setting loftier goals.

Email marketing benchmarks to shoot for in 2020

Most email marketing platforms tend to collect and publish their own data regarding email marketing benchmarks, best practices and performance. 

To make things a little easier, we’ve compiled industry-specific benchmark data from five of the top email platforms on the web (Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor, Constant Contact, Mailigen and Getresponse), allowing you to compare percentages, see how your strategy measures up and which benchmarks you should focus on for 2020.* 

Open rates

Email open rates represent the percentage of subscribers who open any given email campaign. This is determined by dividing the total number of emails opened by the total sent to your customers.

A good email open rate may indicate any number of email marketing best practices are at play, from the use of consistently compelling subject lines to having a recognizable brand that genuinely inspires higher rates of engagement. 

OPEN RATE Mailchimp Campaign Monitor Constant Contact Mailigen Getresponse
Advertising & Marketing 17.38% 19.30% 12.11% 18.22% 16.10%
Agriculture or food-related services 23.31% 20.50% 14.10%  19.23% 33.10%
Arts and/or Entertainment 20.51% 18.10% 16.41% 17.58% 28.72%
Business or Financial Services 21.56% 20.20% 12.73% 17.55% 25.36%
Construction 22.51% 22.40% 16.46% 19.20% N/A
Education 23.42% 23.40% 16.99% 19.86% 28.36%
Government 28.77% 30.50% 21.64% 20.13% N/A
Healthcare-related Services (hospital, etc.) 21.72% 19.70% 18.19% 19.42% 24.83%
Legal Services 22.00% N/A 17.55% N/A 24.65%
Media and/or Publishing 22.15% 18.10% 14.70% 17.58% 29.64%
Nonprofit or NGO 25.17% 25.20% 19.18% 21.12% 36.15
Professional Services 21.94% 18.00% 14.00% N/A N/A
Real Estate 19.17% 19.90% 14.42% 18.03% 25.48%
Retail 18.39% 13.90% 11.63% 14.34% 22.38%
Travel & Leisure 20.44% 15.70% 12.90% 16.16% 22.79%

*Each platform utilizes its own data and methodology to determine benchmarks. All featured info is updated as of 2019. Not all industries are listed. Please see each respective website for further details.

Of the five email platforms, Mailchimp and Getresponse estimate the highest average email open rate across all industries at 21.33% and 22.15%, respectively. The lowest overall open rate comes from Constant Contact at 14.79%.

Email Marketing Tips: Improving Your Open Rate 

A few email marketing best practices to point your open rate in the right direction:

  1. Devote extra time to your subject lines, arguably the most important elements of any email.
  2. Fill out “from name” fields with familiar information—business and sender info your customers recognize and trust.
  3. Get to know your subscribers. Ask yourself: are my emails properly addressing the recipient’s pain points? 

Clickthrough rates (CTR)

An important email marketing benchmark, clickthrough rates represent the average number of customers clicking on the link embedded in the content of your email. Typically, the CTR metric shows the total number of subscribers who have clicked a link within a specific email marketing campaign.

Strong clickthrough rates not only show that customers are opening your emails, but also that your email content is engaging enough to inspire further action.

CLICKTHROUGH RATE Mailchimp Campaign Monitor Constant Contact Mailigen Getresponse
Advertising & Marketing 2.04% 2.60% 9.64% 2.35% 1.87%
Agriculture or food-related services 2.94% 3.50% 4.11% 3.54% 3.46%
Arts and/or Entertainment 2.36% 3.10% 6.45% 3.02% 4.48%
Business or Financial Services 2.72% 2.50% 6.45% 2.41% 4.73%
Construction 2.26% 3.20% 5.32% 2.81% N/A
Education 2.90% 3.00% 7.66% 2.45% 4.31%
Government 3.99% 4.10% 8.37% 3.23% N/A
Health and/or Healthcare-related Services (hospital, physician etc.) 2.49% 2.70% 5.84% 2.21% 3.58%
Legal Services 2.81% N/A 6.33% N/A 2.66%
Media and/or Publishing 4.62% 3.10% 8.64% 3.02% 6.46%
Nonprofit or NGO 2.79% 2.60% 7.38% 2.55% 4.25%
Professional Services 2.55% 1.80% 7.02% N/A N/A
Real Estate 1.77% 3.60% 5.25% 2.01% 3.07%
Retail 2.25% 2.10% 7.57% 2.14% 3.39%
Travel & Leisure 2.25% 1.60% 5.92% 2.35% 2.93%

*Each platform utilizes its own data and methodology to determine benchmarks. All featured info is updated as of 2019. Not all industries are listed. Please see each respective website for further details.

Constant Contact estimates the highest average clickthrough rate across all industries at nearly 7%, with the Getresponse industry average hovering around 3.43%. MailChimp and Campaign Monitor calculate average clickthroughs at about 2.6%, while Mailigen’s estimates top out at just over 2.46%.

Email Marketing Tips: How to Get More Clickthroughs

Compelling more readers to take that next step starts by:

  1. Establishing a clear goal for each email. Know what you want the reader to do (fill out a survey, visit your website, etc.) so you can communicate that message clearly to your audience.
  2. Offering something of value. Providing an incentive for taking action is one of the best ways to inspire your readers to action. 
  3. Making it easy to take action. Email text should always be relevant and easy to read. CTA links should always be easy for readers to find and click.

Click-to-open rates (CTOR)

Click-to-open rates are used to gauge the performance of a particular email campaign, such as how much and how strong an interest your message is generating among your subscribers. CTOR is calculated by dividing the total number of clicks in a campaign by the total amount of opens and multiplying that number by 100 (to get a percentage).

One of the key email marketing benchmarks, the CTOR metric is great for evaluating the actions of subscribers who have opened your email, essentially measuring the content effectiveness of an individual email marketing campaign. It also provides a good way to compare and contrast the performance of different campaigns.

CLICK-TO-OPEN RATE Mailchimp Campaign Monitor Constant Contact Mailigen Getresponse
Advertising & Marketing N/A 13.30% N/A 14.25% 11.59%
Agriculture or food-related services N/A 17.10% N/A 18.51% 10.45%
Arts and/or Entertainment N/A 16.90% N/A 18.21% 15.61%
Business or Financial Services N/A 12.40% N/A 14.21% 18.65%
Construction N/A 14.00% N/A 14.12% N/A
Education N/A 12.70% N/A 15.41% 15.19%
Government N/A 13.40% N/A 15.25% N/A
Healthcare-related Services (hospital, etc.) N/A 13.70% N/A 13.85% 14.40%
Legal Services N/A N/A N/A N/A 10.81%
Media and/or Publishing N/A 16.90% N/A 18.21% 21.78%
Nonprofit or NGO N/A 10.30% N/A 12.05% 11.77%
Professional Services N/A 9.90% N/A N/A N/A
Real Estate N/A 17.70% N/A 11.24% 12.05%
Retail N/A 15.20% N/A 14.75% 15.14%
Travel & Leisure N/A 10.20% N/A 11.99% 12.84%

*Each platform utilizes its own data and methodology to determine benchmarks. All featured info is updated as of 2019. Not all industries are listed. Please see each respective website for further details.

Overall, Getresponse calculated the highest all-industry average click-to-open benchmark at 15.49%, with Campaign Monitor (14.3%) and Mailigen (13.87%) estimates not far behind. We were unable to locate CTOR data from Mailchimp and Constant Contact.

Email Marketing Tips: Optimizing Your CTOR 

Several email marketing best practices for boosting your open-to-click rates:

  1. Personalize what you offer. Customers are far more likely to open and click when your message is personally geared toward them.
  2. Include compelling CTAs. Calls-to-action should always be clear, concise and directing readers to a specific goal.
  3. Review your metrics. Continual review of CTOR and open rates can help identify what’s working and areas in need of improvement.   

Bounce rates

Essentially, average email bounce rates show the number of addresses that don’t receive your messages, largely because they are blocked or rejected by the recipients’ email servers. Emails are typically undeliverable because an address doesn’t exist (hard bounce) or because the recipient’s inbox is full (soft bounce). 

Like other email marketing benchmarks, email bounce rates vary depending on industry, time of day, etc. They can also be affected by loading times, file size, outdated email lists and other factors unique to your email marketing strategy. 


(hard bounce/soft bounce)

Campaign Monitor Constant Contact Mailigen Getresponse
Advertising & Marketing .44%/.68% 1.10% 11.48% 1.31% N/A
Agriculture or food-related services .32%/.50% .50% 9.25% 1.02% N/A
Arts and/or Entertainment .28%/.43% .40% 8.49% .74% N/A
Business or Financial Services .43%/.55% 1.20% 9.05% 1.11% N/A
Construction .86%/1.28% 2.20% 8.74% .88% N/A
Education .32%/.51% 1.10% 8.86% 1.48% N/A
Government .33%/.50% 1.30% 9.75% .94% N/A
Healthcare-related Services (hospital, etc.) .51%/.63% 1.00% 8.50% 1.21% N/A
Legal Services .52%/.66% N/A 11.79% N/A N/A
Media and/or Publishing .14%/.27% .40% 8.64% .74% N/A
Nonprofit or NGO .33%/.49% 1.00% 9.06% 1.02% N/A
Professional Services .56%/.83% .80% 11.19% N/A N/A
Real Estate .38%/.56% 1.40% 11.83% 1.48% N/A
Retail .22%/.32% .40% 9.14% .58% N/A
Travel & Leisure .31%/.51% .50% 8.65% .93% N/A

*Each platform utilizes its own data and methodology to determine benchmarks. All featured info is updated as of 2019. Not all industries are listed. Please see each respective website for further details

The highest average bounce rate was calculated by Constant Contact at 9%. Bounce averages produced by Mailigen (1.09%), Campaign Monitor (.70%) and Mailchimp (.40% (hard) and .58% (soft)) were significantly lower. We were unable to locate bounce data from Getresponse.

Email Marketing Tips: Reducing Bounce and Improving Deliverability

Bounced emails can be frustrating. But a few small tweaks can help lower your bounce rate and enhance email deliverability:

  1. Authenticate your messages. Authenticated emails help servers verify origin and get more messages to the destination.
  2. Ask for permission. A permission-based email list is critical to keeping bounce rates as low as possible.
  3. Update your lists regularly. Ongoing review of your email database helps keep your lists optimized and efficient. 

Unsubscribe rates

Unsub rates point to how many subscribers are “opting out” of your promotional messaging campaign. The number of unsubscribes does vary depending on your industry, though this rate is typically pretty small no matter what your business does. 

A higher-than-average cancellation rate can indicate a number of problems. But it’s most often a sign your campaign is lacking adequate relevancy with the target audience.

UNSUBSCRIBE RATE Mailchimp Campaign Monitor Constant Contact Mailigen Getresponse
Advertising & Marketing .16% .20% .01% .17% .16%
Agriculture or food-related services .23% .20% .01% .19% .23%
Arts and/or Entertainment .20% .10% .01% .09% .20%
Business or Financial Services .20% .20% .01% .15% .20%
Construction N/A .30% .02% .18% N/A
Education .22% .20% .01% .15% .22%
Government N/A .20% .01% .15% N/A
Healthcare-related Services (hospital, etc.) .21% .20% .01% .17% .21%
Legal Services .19% N/A .01% N/A .19%
Media and/or Publishing .18% .10% .00% .09% .18%
Nonprofit or NGO .18% .20% .01% .13% .18%
Professional Services N/A .20% .01% N/A N/A
Real Estate .20% .20% .01% .23% .20%
Retail .19% .10% .01% .11% .19%
Travel & Leisure .17% .10% .01% .16% .17%

*Each platform utilizes its own data and methodology to determine benchmarks. All featured info is updated as of 2019. Not all industries are listed. Please see each respective website for further details. 

Among the five email marketing platforms, Campaign Monitor (.70%) and Mailchimp (.26%) estimated the highest industry-wide unsubscribe averages. The lowest average rate came was calculated by Constant Contact at .01%.

Email Marketing Tips: How to Keep More Subscribers

While unsubscribe rates are (relatively) low for most email marketing campaigns, you may be able to push your rate down even further by:

  1. Adhering to reader preferences. Offering readers options for when and how often you send them emails—and sticking to that schedule—sets a level of expectation and consistency that reinforces trust and reduces cancellation rates.
  2. Segmenting your email sends. Customers are far less likely to unsubscribe when your emails are relevant to them, making segmentation an integral email marketing best practice.
  3. Revising the option. A simple rephrasing of “Unsubscribe” to something like “Update My Preferences” doesn’t change the button’s prime function. Rather, it offers the user more options before they opt out altogether. 

Having trouble reaching email marketing benchmarks?

We’re here to help.

At Marca Global®, we provide the outsourced, customized digital marketing services you need to improve clickthrough rates and maximize your email marketing ROI

Our online marketing experts tailor outreach and marketing options to fit your unique organization, enabling your in-house team with the tools and approach to set and surpass email marketing benchmarks on a consistent basis.

To schedule your free consultation, call 720-738-5024 today. 

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Ken K

About Ken K

Ken Klispie is a data driven performance marketer with a heavy technology background. Currently the Chief Marketing Officer at Marca Global®. His primary emphasis is on testing and optimizing marketing channels to achieve financial and operational goals. In his off time he enjoys spending time with his family and creating microbrews.

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