What About Email Marketing Benchmarks? 3

What is a good open rate?  What kind of click thru rate should I get on an average email?  What is the average unsubscribe rate for a mailing?  What is the average open rate for the publishing industry?   These are all great questions that I am asked, and I see being asked across the blogosphere quite often.  We all have a desire to compare ourselves to others.  I am a naturally competitive person who wants to be the best at EVERYTHING, no matter what.  I sympathize with the need to benchmark.  It is with great sadness that I have to tell you the truth.  The numbers that are out there, really don’t mean much.

Allow me to explain to you why I no longer trust the numbers.  Years ago, we all sent basically the same email to our customers.  We had the same general layout and campaigns.  Everyone got the same general, standardized, possibly lightly targeted sort of messages.  We then saw the birth of benchmarking resources for email marketing.   These numbers were pretty legit considering there wasn’t a lot of variation in the messages being sent out.  We were able to drill down into specific industries and predict how the customers would react.   Email marketing became a safe and measurable marketing activity.

Why can’t we look at those numbers with confidence anymore?  The email marketing world is a much different place today.  It is no longer true that all campaigns are created equal.  Things like Facebook, Twitter, blogs and forums have taken everything we know about email marketing numbers and thrown them right out the window.   Good marketers no longer send “email campaigns” out.  Good marketers have conversations with their extended family.

What does this mean for these benchmarking statistics?  I say it means they are no longer relevant.  Statistics have become very personal.  You must create and monitor numbers specific to individual marketing and transactional efforts.

Here are some things that factor into numbers for specific programs:

  • Content
  • Reputation
  • Relevance
  • List-Quality
  • Frequency
  • Engagement Quotient

These are just a few of the things that may change the way your efforts are received.   Every single campaign is different and dependent on so may highly individualized factors.  Listen to your customers and what they tell you directly and indirectly through their actions.  Don’t be distracted by out-of-date “industry” numbers.  Benchmark yourself, and carefully watch your historical numbers as they build.  This approach will lead to much more successful marketing programs.

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