How many recipients should be opening your emails?

I suspect that most marketing managers are hopelessly optimistic when it comes to assessing how many of their promotional emails get opened. Of course, a lot depends on your credibility, your familiarity to the recipient, the quality of the mailing list and that all-important subject line. However, some research has just been released which quantifies what’s happening to other business marketers and might give you an idea of how your own emails compare.

The 2012 Silverpop Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study is a free download in exchange for your contact details. Researchers looked at messages sent by 1,124 brands from 20 countries, and a broad set of message types was included in the study, from promotional emails and content-based newsletters to notifications and transactional messages, in a variety of industries.

Now, before discussing the findings, it’s worth asking yourself what you know about the open rates of your emails. Do you have any idea? I’ve talked to marketing managers in the past who genuinely believe that 75% get opened, and that if they get a measurable 3% response rate overall, that means that the emails which did get opened got a 4% response rate. That might give a terribly misleading impression of the relevance of the email and the effectiveness of the content. In reality, far fewer get opened, and consequently a far higher proportion of the ones which get opened generate a response.

The Silverpop study found that the average email open rate for the companies studied is fractionally over 20%. There’s also data on click-through rates, unsubscribe rates and more, if you’d care to investigate. However, this is really only of interest if you’re totally on top of your own email performance, and can compare the results. If you’re one of those people who think that 75% get opened, it might be better to start your research closer to home first.

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