The mean unique open rate for US email marketers last year was 20.2% and the median rate 17.1%, according to the 2014 Silverpop Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study [download page], which examined data from all the messages sent by Silverpop’s client base of nearly 3,000 brands from 40 countries. But those average figures mask considerable differences between the best- and worst-performers: the top quartile achieved a median open rate of 38.5%, compared to the median rate of just 7.4% for the bottom quartile. Similarly wide differences were observed across a host of other metrics, too.
For example, the median unique click-through rate (CTR) for top-performers in the US was 9.4%, while it was just 0.2% for the bottom quartile. Indeed, the top quartile’s median rate was almost 7 times higher than the overall median rate (1.4%) . (The mean CTR was 3.2%.)
Silverpop arrived at its figures for the “top quartile” by taking the median of all data above the overall median, while the “bottom quartile” represents the median of all data below the overall data median.
When it came to click-to-open rates, the top quartile’s median rate of 30.8% was leaps and abounds above the bottom quartile’s median (1.8%), more than tripling the overall median (9.4%). It was also more than double the mean rate of 13.1%.
The results suggest that marketers should use top-performer benchmarks as their yardsticks for success, rather than measuring themselves against an average figure that can be dragged down significantly by lower-performing marketers.
Analyzing the data on a global basis, the study reveals that certain verticals performed far better than others. Limiting the results to those of the top quartile of performers, the study shows that:
- Education sported the highest median unique open rate (50.4%) for the second consecutive year, with the media and publishing (31.3%) sector the worst-performer on this measure;
- Education boasted the highest gross open rate (147.7%), with travel and leisure (62.3%) having the lowest figure among the top quartile of performers;
- The best-performing marketers in the computer software industry achieved a median rate of 4.07 opens per opener, versus the overall top-performer median of 2.72;
- The top quartile of consumer services email marketers achieved the highest median CTR, of 13.2%, almost double the median CTR of 6.8% for top-performers in the travel and leisure industry; and
- Top-performers in the healthcare industry garnered the best median click-to-open rate (37.7%) for the second consecutive year, while top-performers in the consumer products industry had the lowest such rate (24.7%).