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 agains 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 - Healthcare %
|Open Rate (Unique)||Mean||Median||Top Quartile||Bottom Quartile|
|Hospitals, Healthcare & Biotech||24.7||21.2||47.9||7.6|
So as an industry, open rates in the Healthcare sector slightly higher 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Having out of date email addresses in your database will automatically reduce the amount of emails that get opened.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 - Healthcare %
|Click Through Rates||Mean||Median||Top Quartile||Bottom Quartile|
|Hospitals, Healthcare & Biotech||3.3||1.2||10.2||0.1|
So as an industry our click through rates are almost in line with averages.
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 content in the email vs after click through. We’ll click a link if we 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 Healthcare %
|Click to Open Rate||Mean||Median||Top Quartile||Bottom Quartile|
|Hospitals, Healthcare & Biotech||11.9||6.8||31.4||1.0|
How does this compare with other sectors?
The top quartile of Healthcare companies are performing in line with the average top-quartile companies across all industries when it comes to CTOR, however the averages and worse performers are underperforming their benchmarks.
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 Healthcare %
|Hard Bounce Rate||Mean||Median||Top Quartile||Bottom Quartile|
|Hospitals, Healthcare & Biotech||0.619||0.028||0.00||2.38|
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
Unsubscribe Rates by Geography %
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 Healthcare %
|Unsubscribe Rate||Mean||Median||Top Quartile||Bottom Quartile|
|Hospitals, Healthcare & Biotech||0.13||0.008||0.00||0.45|
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 wells mobile and multi channel messaging.
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.