Email Marketing: Benchmarks for 2021

Email marketing is one of the strongest digital marketing approaches that businesses can take as they grow.  But behind the eye-catching potential of increased ROI and sales lies a lot of planning, hard work, and strategy. In order to create a successful email marketing campaign, it is essential to look at key benchmarks and current trends for 2021. Here’s what you need to know before sending your next marketing email:


2021 Email Usage Trends

First, let’s answer a seemingly obvious, yet complex question: how do people use email these days? 

Over half of the global population uses emails for a variety of reasons, including work or personal leisure. More people sign up for email accounts each year,  and it’s predicted that by 2024 there will be roughly 4.48 billion email users.

When marketing your small business, you’ll also need to understand how many people, on average, are actually opening and reading the emails that appear in their inbox. 

According to a Campaign Monitor finding, the average email open rate was 17.8% in a batch of more than 30 billion emails sent globally between January-December 2019. The industries that gathered the highest opening rates were government, non-profit, and education. Emails relating to hobbies (such as fishing, reading, or shopping) perform even better, with average open rates of about 27.35% according to Mailchimp. Regardless of industry or subject, welcome emails score some of the highest open rates –  around 80% – mostly because users expect to receive them. 

So how can you maximize your open rate to achieve (or even surpass) industry standards? Start by personalizing your subject, which can increase open rates by as much as 26%. Make sure to add a welcome sequence, including a discount code or exclusive offer if appropriate.


Additional Email Benchmarks

Apart from trends in open rates, Campaign Monitor found additional email data for all industries:

  • Average click-through rate: 2.6%
  • Average click-to-open rate: 14.1%
  • Average unsubscribe rate: 0.1%

The click-through rate measures how many people clicked on a link in an email, while the click-to-open rate only takes into account those who opened the email but took no further actions. 

Marketing vs Transactional Emails

Marketing emails are crafted to promote a product, service, or company culture. Transactional emails, on the other hand, are responding to a request of some sort by the user – such as password resets, shipping confirmations, or event reminders. A simple way to differentiate between these types of emails is to think of transactional emails as requested and expected by the customer, while marketing emails are unanticipated. 

Similarly to how welcome emails have higher open rates because they are expected, transactional emails have higher open rates than marketing emails. One way to boost your open rates for marketing content is to make it feel more like transactional content. Sending marketing emails after a customer completes an action resulting in a transactional email (such as sending info about a new product after they purchase a similar product) is one such strategy.

When to Send Your Email

Some marketing emails are time sensitive, such as those announcing sales or limited-time offers. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that timing your email properly can lead to increased open, click, and conversion rates. According to Campaign Monitor, Friday is the best day on average to achieve the highest click-through and open rates. Additionally, email marketing tools such as Mailchimp have features that allow for Send Time Optimization, which selects a time to send your email based on when your unique audience is most likely to engage. If you’re worried about unsubscribe rates, no need to sweat – those stayed about the same no matter which day an email was sent.


ROI (Return on Investment)

On average, email marketers report seeing customers spend $42 for every $1 they spend on their email strategy – that’s a massive return on investment! 


What to Do With This Data?

After reviewing these industry stats and comparing your own email campaigns to these metrics, it’s time to identify where you can strengthen your marketing game. Experiment with different subject lines, send times, and marketing/transactional strategies. 

While there is no secret recipe to ensure email marketing success, this data can help point you in the right direction.