News | 13 March 2019

Email marketing benchmark statistics - Financial Services

You’ve spent an age building, cleaning and GDPR proofing your database, your emails look so good you want to enter them for an award, your sign-up process is so slick that prospects never bounce. You're feeling on top of your game as far as email marketing is concerned. 

So how can you judge your performance and get a benchmark on your activities? Well the great thing about digital is it’s easy to measure and email is no exception.

Like any marketing success, email performance is best measured against business objectives.

  • How many new customers have you generated?
  • How much revenue?
  • How much profit?

Sometimes those statistics are very hard to come by as not all internal business systems are linked, meaning it can be difficult measure email's impact on business activity.

So whilst it is crucially important to measure email marketing at the macro level in the context of business performance, it’s equally as important to benchmark at a micro level and compare your statistics against an industry peer set.

IBM produce a great annual benchmarking report, with email marketing results broken down by industry sector - full copy here.

What’s good about their report is they provide top and bottom quartile stats as well as averages. The rationale being if you judge yourself against the average you’ll settle for being slightly better than average. Whilst if you judge yourself against the best performing you’ll only settle for joining them in attaining great results.

Let’s have a look at some top-line statistics.

1. Open rates
The open rate works best as an in-house benchmark to track over time because it can signal progress or problems with engagement. However, it is not a completely accurate metric because it doesn’t capture all opens due to image blocking, connection speed and other factors.

In other words, track your open rate for comparison to your other messages over time, but don’t use it as a sole measure of campaign success.

Unique email open rates by Geography %

Unique Open Rates - Financial Services %

Open Rate (Unique) Mean Median Top Quartile Bottom Quartile
Banks & Financial Services 21.0 17.2 41.2 7.4
  • Open Rate (Unique)
    Banks & Financial Services
  • Mean
  • Median
  • Top Quartile
  • Bottom Quartile

So as an industry, open rates for the top quartile and average performers in the Financial Services are slightly lower than the overall data set.

A few things to consider when trying to improve open rates.

Is your data up to date?
Having out of date email addresses in your database will automatically reduce the amount of emails that get opened.

Are your emails getting delivered?
Have you checked your deliverability - it’s good practice to run health checks against spam and junk filters to ensure your emails are getting into the inbox.

Are you sending from a recognised name and email address?
People are far more likely to open emails if they are familiar with the sender name and address - keep this consistent and recognisable.

Is the subject line compelling?
This is something you should be A/B testing - subject lines impact open rates.

2. Click-Through Rates (CTR)
The click-through rate (CTR) is a process metric that measures recipient action on an email message. It’s a more revealing metric than the open rate but doesn’t substitute for output goals such as conversions, revenue or order value.

Click-Through Rates by Geography %

Click-Through Rates - Financial Services %

Click Through Rate Mean Median Top Quartile Bottom Quartile
Banks & Financial Services 2.5 1.4 7 0.2
  • Click Through Rate
    Banks & Financial Services
  • Mean
  • Median
  • Top Quartile
  • Bottom Quartile

So as an industry our click through rates are slightly below average.

The IBM report highlights the following considerations when it comes to Email Click Through Rates: make clicking links as easy as possible with the use of large buttons, placing text links in multiple locations, using lots of white space, and, when possible and practical, use benefit-driven calls to action on buttons rather than phrases like “click here.”

It’s also crucial to consider the balance of how much content you place in the email vs what you present after click through on your website. Recipients will click a link if they want to read more, if you’ve given it all away in the email - you’re unlikely to get any further action.

3. Click to open rates (CTOR)
CTOR sometimes known as the “effective rate,” sheds more light on engagement than a simple click rate because it measures click-through rates as a percentage of messages opened instead of simply messages delivered.

Click-To-Open Rates by Geography %

Click-To-Open Rates Financial Services %

Click to Open Rate Mean Median Top Quartile Bottom Quartile
Banks & Financial Services 10.9 8.7 24.2 1.4
  • Open Rate (Unique)
    Banks & Financial Services
  • Mean
  • Median
  • Top Quartile
  • Bottom Quartile

How does this compare with other sectors?

Banks & Financial Services had the worse CTOR top-quartile average results of any industry sector measured by IBM.

4. Hard bounce rates
Higher-than-average hard bounce rates may indicate you are not eliminating bad email addresses vigorously enough at opt-in or that your operations are not practicing best-in-class, ongoing list hygiene.

Hard Bounce Rates by Geography %

Hard Bounce Rates Financial Services %

Hard Bounce Rate Mean Median Top Quartile Bottom Quartile
Banks & Financial Services 0.627 0.00 0.00 2.46
  • Open Rate (Unique)
    Banks & Financial Services
  • Mean
  • Median
  • Top Quartile
  • Bottom Quartile

Keeping hard bounce rates low is a sign of good data management, it suggests that hard bounces are processed frequently, as they should be. If they are frequently above average then it’s a sign you have some issues with subscriber acquisition.

5. Unsubscribe rates
Rising unsubscribe rates might indicate that your email program doesn’t match what subscribers expected when they signed up. If your unsubscribe rate rises over time or remains constant while spam complaints increase, you might have an unclear unsubscribe process. Worse yet, you may be losing the trust of your subscribers.

Unsubscribe Rates Financial Services %

Unsubscribe Rate Mean Median Top Quartile Bottom Quartile
Banks & Financial Services 0.13 0.00 0.00 0.49
  • Open Rate (Unique)
    Banks & Financial Services
  • Mean
  • Median
  • Top Quartile
  • Bottom Quartile

The key to keeping unsubscribe rates low is, not surprisingly, to provide good relevant content in your emails.
As well as this, providing a mechanism for subscribers to change their preferences and adjust the the frequency they receive your mailings will also help.

Again if you’ve got high unsubscribe rates you should review how you are acquiring your data in the first place, relevancy could well be an issue.

That’s just some top level stats to help you review how your email marketing compares with industry benchmarks. I’d strongly recommend a deep dive into the report as it is full of comprehensive statistics across industries. It also covers device usage, as well as mobile and multi channel messaging.

If you’d like some help with your email marketing, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

We provide a hands on email marketing service as well as strategic and tactical advice. We support clients using many different platforms.

Paul Wreford-Brown, Digital Director,
Steve Haydon, Email Services Manager,

Glossary of terms (as defined by IBM)
Open Rate (Unique) The unique open rate measures one open per recipient and is expressed as a percentage of the total number of delivered email messages. To calculate the rate, divide the number of unique opens by the total number of delivered emails, and then multiply by 100 to display the percentage.

Click-Through Rate (CTR) Measures the percentage of email messages that drew at least one click. For this study, it is expressed as unique click-through rate, counting only one click per recipient. To calculate the click-through rate, divide the number of unique clicks by the number of delivered messages and multiply by 100.

Click To Open Rate (CTOR) Measures the percentage of opened messages that recorded clicks. To calculate, divide the number of unique clicks by the number of opened messages and multiply by 100.

Hard Bounce Rate The percentage of sent messages that failed (bounced) because the address doesn’t exist or the account was closed. To calculate, divide the total number of bounced messages by the total number of emails sent, and multiply by 100.

Unsubscribe Rate The percentage of delivered email messages that generates unsubscribe requests. To calculate, divide the number of unsubscribe requests received by delivered emails and multiply by 100.

Paul Wreford-Brown,
Digital Director