2019 Benchmarks: Average Email Open Rates

The goal of email marketing is to have active subscribers that are opening your emails and taking action on them by clicking on your call-to-actions (CTAs). In order to know if you are succeeding, you need to be able to compare our email open rate to your industry’s average email open rate.

The open rate is known as the percentage of recipients who received and then opened the email out of total email recipients selected for the email campaign. This number can include multiple opens from the same source.

The formula for calculating an email open rate is rather simple. You can figure this percentage by taking the number of emails opened and dividing it by the total number of emails sent during the campaign and subtracting any bounced emails.

Email Open Rates by Quarter

When it comes to determining average email open rates, it is essential to note that the number can and will vary by industry and type of email campaign that you are sending out. Below, we’ve compiled a list of nine quarters worth of average open rates across all industries.

  • Q4 2018 – 29.4%
  • Q3 2018 – 31.3%
  • Q2 2018 – 31.2%
  • Q1 2018 – 33.1%
  • Q4 2017 – 32.1%
  • Q3 2017 – 31.2%
  • Q2 2017 – 33.8%
  • Q1 2017 – 33.5%
  • Q4 2016 – 32.1%

Email Open Rates by Industry

Want to compare your average email open rate with that of your industry average? Moreover, maybe you want to see how your average compares to other industries? Thanks to research done by our friends at Campaign Monitor, we’ve got the average open rate for several different industries.

  • Advertising & Marketing Agencies: 18.65%
  • Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting: 20.13%
  • Automotive & Aerospace: 17.35%
  • Construction, Contracting & Manufacturing: 18.74%
  • Consumer Packaged Goods: 14.53%
  • Education: 18.90%
  • Engineering, Architecture & Design: 18.25%
  • Financial Services: 18.23%
  • Food & Beverage: 15.48%
  • Government: 19.79%
  • Healthcare Services: 19.12%
  • IT/Tech/Software Services: 17.96%
  • Logistics & Wholesale: 18.50%
  • Media, Entertainment, & Publishing: 17.58%
  • Nonprofit: 20.39%
  • Other: 18.94%
  • Professional Services: 18.14%
  • Real Estate Agents & Brokers: 18.06%
  • Real Estate, Design & Construction Activities: 18.88%
  • Retail: 14.98%
  • Travel, Hospitality, & Leisure: 16.62%
  • Unknown: 17.95%

Based on these numbers, it looks like the top-performing average email open rates include Nonprofits and Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting, closely followed by Government.

What’s the Difference Between Open Rate, Unique Open Rate, and Click-to-open Rate?

One thing that tends to confuse some marketing teams is the fact that there are varying stats that revolve around open rates. Besides the average open rate, there is also the unique open rate and click-to-open rate that marketing teams should be looking carefully at. Since we already defined what an open rate is, let’s take a look at both unique open rates and click-to-open rates.

Unique Open Rate

The unique open rate is like the open rate in that it is the percentage of recipients that received and opened your email campaign. However, this benchmark only takes into consideration the initial opens, not repeated opens from the same source.

Below is a list compiled by IBM Watson Marketing with the average unique open rates for 2018 by industry.

Source: IMB

Click-to-open Rate

The click-to-open rate (CTOR) measures the percentage of recipients who opened your email campaign and then clicked on a link that you included within the email. This is not to be confused with a click-through rate, which only measures the percent of people who clicked on a link.

Below is a list compiled by IBM Watson Marketing with the average unique click-to-open rates for 2018 by industry.

Source: IMB

5 Tips to Improve Your Average Email Open Rate

An email marketing campaign can be designed to perfection, but it means nothing if your subscribers aren’t opening it up, to begin with. It’s vital that marketing teams follow email marketing best practices to get their emails opened; however, some other tips can help increase your average open rate.

1. Create More Relevant/Actionable Subject Lines

The very first piece of your email that subscribers will see is the email subject line. If the subject line is generic or doesn’t create a sense of intrigue, then the reader won’t be inclined to click on your email and see what you have to offer.

  • The only way to fix this is to create more relevant and actionable subject lines.
  • What is it that your readers want to know from you?
  • What are you offering them?
  • Any special incentives?

These are all questions your teams should consider when drafting new subject lines for your upcoming email campaigns.

2. Optimize for Both Desktop and Mobile Previews

While the email subject is what the readers will first read, the preheader text is just as essential. This is extra real estate for marketing teams to help further intrigue their readers.

Source: Campaign Monitor

Many brands choose to leave this section blank, which is a great mistake considering it either fills in with random text from your email or is left blank, leaving readers to believe there is nothing worth looking at.

When it comes to optimizing your subject lines and preheader text for desktop and mobile viewing, you need to keep in mind overall character count. Here’s a basic character count to keep in mind for ideal subject lines:

Source: Campaign Monitor

When it comes down to determining the average character count in an email preheader, try to keep it between 85 and 100 characters maximum. Anything longer will get cut off, which also means you want to keep your most important information upfront.

3. Have Relevant Content

Your subscribers have decided to join your email list for a reason, so you need to make sure you are continuously creating and sharing content that is relevant to them and their needs. If you are randomly creating and curating content that doesn’t stay in line with your niche, brand, or industry, then you will start losing subscribers and fast.

4. Test and Retest

Testing your email campaigns before you send them to your entire email list is vital. By doing simple A/B testing, marketers can test varying aspects of their campaign, such as their email content, images, buttons, and subject lines.

Start with two small samplings of your email list and send email A to group 1 and email B to group 2. The email that performs better is the one you want to teak and send to your list. Remember, only test one aspect at a time to get an accurate reading of your consumers and what they prefer.

5. Monitor and Learn from Past Campaigns

Finally, once you’ve sent out your campaigns, you’ll want to monitor them carefully and see how well they perform in each metric category. Keep a record of these numbers because doing so will help you learn from your campaigns and what works over time and during testing.

Additional Email Benchmarks Worth Noting by Industry

Of course, as necessary as your average email open rate is, there are quite a few other metrics that should be carefully monitored with each and every email campaign that you send out.

Why? Each of these metrics will tell you if your marketing efforts are paying off and if they are sitting well with your readers.

Key metrics include:

  • Click rate
  • Bounce rate
  • Spam rate
  • Unsubscribe rate

During their research on open rates, Campaign Monitor also found the averages of these key metrics per industry as well.

Source: Campaign Monitor

Wrap Up

If you want to see an increase in your email marketing return on investment, then increasing your average email open rate is a must. Delivra is a one-stop shop for marketing teams that need a platform that can help through the entire process.

Remembering these key points can help with your open rates:

  • Use relevant/actionable subject lines
  • Continuously provide relevant, high-quality content to your readers
  • Always test your campaigns before sending them out
  • Learn from past campaigns and implement changes needed as you discover them

From getting started with marketing automation, to simple design tools to help your team create stunning email campaigns for your brand, Delivra can help. Check out all that our platform has to offer today!

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