For our latest email metrics study, we looked at emails sent by 2,787 brands throughout 2012 and crunched the numbers to see what trends emerged. The results are revealed in our 2013 Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Report, and you can use them to see where you stand compared to your peers, as well as the direction — and how far — you need to go to be considered a top performer.
Here are three interesting takeaways from the study, and how you might apply them to your marketing efforts:
1) Top-quartile performers achieved click-through rates nearly four times higher than the median, 8.8% vs. 2.3 %.
What It Means: The click-through rate, which is calculated by dividing the number of unique clicks on links in the email message by the delivered email messages in a campaign, is where you really start to see separation between the top-tier marketers and the rest of the pack. Bottom-quartile performers couldn’t even muster 1 percent click-throughs.
How You Can Become a Top Performer: Try implementing more automated ("triggered") emails in response to customer/prospect actions or inactions into your messaging mix – these emails are typically the highest-performing approach for email marketers. The reason? Behavior can be a strong indicator of customer/prospect interests and position in the buying lifecycle, making emails triggered by these actions inherently relevant.
From Web behaviors (Web page visits, video views, shopping cart abandonment) to email behaviors (clicks on a specific link, no opens within a specified time, frequent sharing of emails) and beyond (calls to your support center, in-store visits, check-ins via Foursquare), the possibilities for triggered messages are endless.
2) “Healthcare” had the best click-to-open rate of all the verticals in the study (33%).
What It Means: Click-to-open rate, one of my favorite metrics, measures click-through rates as a percentage of messages opened, an excellent indicator of an email’s effectiveness. The higher click rates for this sector, as well as the high-performing education and consumer services verticals, might reflect their content, which usually relies more on news and information than promotions. In addition, healthcare emails can have high relevance if they are personalized for recipients’ individual situations.
How You Can Become a Top Performer: Start thinking of your emails as dynamic content platforms that pull content in from various sources to be as relevant as possible to each recipient. By building content blocks into your messages that change based on the recipient’s actions, stated interests or demographics, you’ll see engagement increase.
3) Bottom-quartile performers had a hard bounce rate of 6.9%, while top-quartile companies experienced a rate of only 0.1%.
What It Means: A high bounce rate — the percentage of sent messages that failed because the address doesn’t exist or the account was closed — indicates problems with accurate data collection at opt-in as well as with email address churn among subscribers. To put the gap between the top and bottom tiers in perspective, consider a mailing to a list of 500,000. The average top-quartile business would see 500 hard bounces, while the typical bottom-quartile company would have 35,000.
How You Can Become a Top Performer: Be vigilant about verifying email addresses before adding them to the database. If you’re employing aggressive acquisition tactics, consider using double opt-in (required in some countries) to minimize bounce and complaint rates. Also, employ a transparent opt-in process in which subscribers understand that they are being subscribed — and to what.
Remember to perform regular list hygiene to remove undeliverable addresses. Many top performers identify disengaged subscribers, segment them and either remove them or target these inactives for reactivation, reducing possible deliverability problems.
For more exclusive data, including benchmarks for 10 key email metrics, comparisons between 14 industry verticals, and breakdowns for the United States, Canada, EMEA and APAC, download Silverpop’s “2013 Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study.”
1) Blog: “Is It Time to Renovate Your Email Program?”
2) Ebook: “Almost Everything You Wanted to Know About Email Marketing”
3) Blog: “Happy Lost Sock Memorial Day! How You Can Leverage ‘Special Days’ for Creative Email Campaigns”