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Updated August 30, 2021

Newsletter Email Marketing Benchmarks: Helpful Ways To Think About Them in 2021

Email Marketing Benchmarks: Helpful Ways To Think About Them in 2021

Email marketing benchmarks are the perfect way to make sure your campaigns are on the right track. And while having targets to strive for is incredibly helpful, just remember: at the end of the day, the most important benchmarks are your own.


Ecommerce brands bring in an average of $581.72 with every newsletter they send. 

And, that’s just the tip of the iceberg...

Email marketing can be used to save revenue from abandoned carts, send targeted offers to specific segments of your list, strengthen (and grow) your community, as well as keep you top of mind so that when your readers are ready to make a purchase, you’ll be the first store they think of.

When it comes to budget and ROI, email marketing is pretty much the most cost effective solution for growing your business, but that doesn’t mean it’s effortless. 

Inboxes are full, spam abounds, and content fatigue is real. 

So, how can you tell if your emails are performing well? How can you use your data to improve your email marketing strategy?

That’s exactly what we’re about to go over. 

3 email marketing stats that prove ROI

Email marketing is one of the best channels you can use to drive sales for your business. That’s because it’s a direct relationship you own with your customers and subscribers.

And the ROI is actually higher than ANY other marketing channel, with a whopping 122% average (nope, that’s not a typo).

Need more convincing? Check out these stats:

In 2020, 80 million people signed up for email lists using Privy and spent over $2.5B. On average, each email contact our customers collected spent $33, which means every email you capture averages about $33. That same number was $16 in 2019, which means the value of email as a channel is increasing in value...and we only expect that number to keep climbing.

We also found that the average revenue per email = $581.72. Imagine if you sent 1 email every week and averaged $582 per email. That’s an extra $2,328 every single month. Which means it’s an extra $27,936 per year.

...and that’s not including automated emails. 

A series of abandoned cart emails can save 3-4% of the revenue you otherwise would’ve missed out on. Which means if you have 3 emails in your series, you could be saving 9-12% of abandoned carts. Automatically.

And honestly, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits of email marketing. If you’re running an ecommerce business and email marketing isn’t part of your strategy, now is the time to start.

Email marketing benchmarks in 2021

You might be wondering, “Is my email marketing performance as good as other brands?”

Don’t worry – comparing yourself to others is a good thing in email marketing. If you know how other companies’ emails perform on average, you have a framework for evaluating and improving your own messages.

Here, we’ve laid out the latest email marketing benchmarks by aggregating data from notable sources like MailchimpCampaign Monitorand GetResponse.. These figures have been pulled from 30+ billion emails, and many of the senders have 1,000+ contacts. Along with this data, we’ve got suggestions for improving your email marketing metrics if they aren’t quite meeting the mark.

Average email deliverability rate: 80%

Email deliverability tells you how many of your subscribers actually received your email. It’s the first metric you need to look at, since it will impact everything else – from bounce rates, to opens. 

To help boost deliverability, you need to take measures to avoid being classified as spam:

  • Make it easy to unsubscribe 
  • Don’t use shortened URLs like bitly in your emails. 
  • Don’t overcrowd your emails with images, make sure there’s more text than pictures. 
  • Use a person’s email address as the sender.

Average email bounce rate: 0.64%

Your email campaigns’ bounce rate is a metric you want to minimize. It’s the percentage of messages that weren’t delivered to recipients either for a permanent reason (a hard bounce) or a temporary reason (a soft bounce).

A hard bounce often happens because the recipient’s email address is invalid or they have marked your email address as spam. A soft bounce is usually due to an issue with the recipient’s email, like their mailbox being full or their email server being down, both of which you can’t control.

But, you can lower that rate by making sure your emails don’t look like spam and by regularly cleaning your list by removing invalid email addresses.

Average email open rate: 20.4%

The most basic email performance metric is the open rate. Your open rate represents the percentage of recipients who (you guessed it) opened the message.

If you’re well under 20%, don’t sweat it. There are a few things you can do to get there.

First, spend time crafting the right subject line. Make sure it’s 9 words or less, stick to your brand voice, and get creative using stats, puns, or emojis.

Another thing you can do is test the time and day you’re sending them out.

On average, Fridays get the most opens, while Saturdays get the least. But, you have to test what works for your subscribers.

Average click through rate: 2%

Your click through rate (CTR) measures the percentage of people who clicked on the links inside your email out of all email recipients.

Since it’s not based on the number of people who opened your email, it’s not a perfect indicator of how engaging your content was, but it’s still important to see some increase over time if you keep growing your list with qualified subscribers.

Average click-to-open rate: 14.9%

Not to be confused with CTR, your campaign’s click-to-open rate (CTOR) is the percentage of people who clicked on a link in your message, out of everyone who opened the email.

A high open rate is a great start, but it isn’t the end goal of a campaign. What you ultimately want to see is that people are engaging with your message, not just opening it.

CTOR is how you measure this engagement.

If your campaign’s CTOR is well below 15%, take a hard look at the body of your email. Is there room to make it more engaging? Consider adjusting the placement and the text of your CTA button to make it more noticeable and enticing.

Segmentation is also super important here. Segment your campaigns, if you aren’t already, so that your emails are relevant and useful for recipients. Because the more relevant your messages are, the more likely your subscribers are to open and engage with them.

Plus, you should be looking at how your audience is behaving with your emails, keeping tabs on the kinds of emails they’ve been clicking on in the past and sending them more of that.

Average unsubscribe rate: 0.19%

If a high CTOR is the dream email metric, a high unsubscribe rate is the nightmare of campaign results.

Your campaign’s unsubscribe rate is the percentage of recipients who opt out of your email list after receiving your message. Once someone unsubscribes, the chances of getting them to sign up again are very low.

If your unsubscribe rate is higher, there’s something going on that needs fixing. It’s an indicator that your shoppers aren’t happy with your campaigns, or that you’re sending them too many emails (once a week is the sweet spot you should be shooting for).

To make sure you’re sending your subscribers relevant messages, review your list segments, analyze past data, and target your emails based on website behavior, product interests, and past purchases.

How to think about email marketing benchmarks for your business?

You already know how powerful benchmarks are. That’s exactly why you’re reading this. 

And while they give you a target to aim for, just remember that your own data will always be the most important, since it will reflect the interests and behaviors of your audience.

The best thing you can do is compete against yourself, always striving to improve based on your own metrics.

So if your numbers aren’t quite hitting the mark, here are some email marketing tips to help improve your conversion rate metrics.

Improve email deliverability

The easiest way to lower your bounce rate? Remove invalid email addresses from your contact list.

This cleanup improves your entire email reporting, not just your bounce rate. Invalid contacts won’t be factored into your performance, so you should see higher engagement numbers.

Regularly check and update your email list by using an email verifier tool, such as Never Bounce.

This paid tool automatically cleans your email lists and checks whether addresses are valid when added to your contacts. There is also a free tool from Email Hippo, but it only allows you to manually check one email at a time.

A double opt-in sign-up process is another way to keep your email list clean. With this setup, people have to confirm their subscriptions by clicking on an email sent to their inbox. 

Double opt-ins add friction, but they also attract active subscribers. People who take the time to confirm will most likely be engaged recipients, and fake email addresses won’t be able to confirm their subscription.

Reduce bounce rate

After removing invalid email addresses, you may find that your bounce rate is still high.

...Which probably means you’re giving off major spammy vibes (yikes!) so your readers are putting you on their blocked list. 

“Spammy” may sound subjective, but spam filters have surprisingly clear criteria for messages to block. Here are a few factors to avoid when writing your campaigns:

  • A large number of links. Filters check for a high text-to-link ratio, so only include essential links in your message, like your CTA button.
  • Overuse of punctuation. A large number of exclamation points and question marks is a clear red flag for spam filters.
  • Large, dense files, like a high-resolution photo. Filters often mark emails with large attachments as spam, in case the files have viruses, so be sure to compress images and files so your message isn’t marked as spam.

For your email to reach as many people on your list as possible, you have to take a hard look at your bounce rate. Start by cleaning your email list. If your messages are still being blocked, rework your campaigns to look less spammy.

Boost open rates

The most important factor when trying to optimize your open rate is your email subject line! It’s one of very few factors that will determine whether your readers open your email or not.

For a subject line to motivate your subscribers to open, it needs to be fully viewable on any screen. Sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many brands send an email with a cut off subject line.

Avoid this mistake by keeping you email subject lines brief. Mailchimp suggests using no more than 9 words or 60 characters. If you stick to this short length, recipients should be able to see your entire subject line, no matter what device they’re using.

Other than length, the language of your subject line matters. Many brands don’t take subject line writing seriously because it involves few words. But you have to remember: people receive tens, if not hundreds, of emails a day. Why should they open your message if the subject line isn’t compelling?

Grab shoppers’ attention by following these subject line writing tips: 

  • Stick to your unique brand voice! Here’s where comparing yourself to others isn't so great. Get inspired from brands you admire, sure, but put your spin on it. Don’t rely on the same trendy phrasing that every other company uses.

    On Christmas, Everlane gave their email a sassy, punchy subject line. Many brands use cheery holiday puns in their subject lines at that time of year, so Everlane’s direct, funny language stood out in the inbox.

  • Minimize punctuation. You want readers to be excited about your message after reading the subject line, but that doesn’t mean it needs to include a million question marks and exclamation points. Overdo the punctuation and your subject line will read as spam.
  • Try out emojis. GetResponse found that messages with emojis had a 3% higher open rate than those that didn’t. But like punctuation, it is possible to overdo with emojis, so make sure you’re not taking it too far.

Subject lines play a huge role in your subscribers’ decision to read your emails. Encourage more opens with subject lines that are to-the-point, playful, and don’t come across as spammy.

Increase click-through rates

For every marketing campaign, there is an action you want recipients to take, whether that’s using a discount code or browsing your new line of products. 

Businesses guide shoppers to take that desired action with calls to action (CTA) buttons in their emails.


The household cleaning products company Grove grabs shoppers’ attention with a bold, sea green CTA button.

But you won’t drive people to click just any CTA button. The design element has to be easy for shoppers to notice, even if they’re quickly scrolling through messages. Equally important, the text on the CTA button has to be motivational. If it promises something valuable to shoppers, they’re more likely to click.

Optimize shopper intent with CTA buttons that stand out and drive clicks with these tips:

  • Size: Apple recommends that CTA buttons be 44x44 points so they’re easily touchable on mobile.
  • Contrast: Choose bold colors that stand out against the rest of the message.
  • Language: Don’t just tell the reader what to do (“click here”). Use descriptive language to tell the reader why they should click (“Get 75% off today”).

Create your CTA with the goal of enticing shoppers, through both the design and the text, and they’ll be more likely to click on your message.

Get higher click-to-open rates

Don’t expect shoppers to engage with your email if it isn’t relevant to their lives. People engage with messages that are curated to their needs and interests. According to Experian, personalized promotional emails have 41% higher unique clicks.

Which means you can drive clicks by segmenting your emails. Instead of sending the same message to your entire email list, deliver email marketing campaigns based these recipient factors:

  • Demographics, such as location, occupation, and age. A clothing brand might send a promotional email about their puffer jackets to Midwestern shoppers, but not necessarily to buyers on the West Coast.
  • Product preferences. Remind shoppers about products that they left in their carts or have viewed in the past. Or you might recommend products that are similar to what’s in their order history.

    The wine subscription company Winc suggests four bottles for customers to try in the email below.

  • Email engagement history. Deliver messages based on what recipients clicked on in the past. Say you’re planning to send an email with video. You could check to see which recipients clicked on past emails with video, and then send the newest message to those recipients.

People aren’t going to click on content that doesn’t resonate with them. Send messages to shoppers based on their individual needs and interests and they’ll be much more likely to click your CTA and complete the desired action.

Decrease unsubscribe rates

People don’t mind occasional emails from brands, but they also want to keep their inboxes clean. If you constantly send messages, they’re more likely to opt out of your list.

So how often should you send emails? There isn’t a clear-cut answer, but, generally speaking, weekly email marketing campaigns seem to be safe. 

In a MarketingSherpa study, the majority of respondents said they wanted emails “at least monthly,” “at least weekly,” or “weekly.”



And in a GetResponse report, weekly emails received the highest number of opens. The report didn’t include data on unsubscribes, but the high open rate suggests that people are responsive to weekly emails.

Instead of setting a single email cadence, you can also let shoppers decide how often they want to receive messages. Many brands include an “update subscriber preferences” link at the bottom of their messages.

The skincare and makeup brand Detox Market allows users to set their email preferences with a link at the bottom of the email.

If shoppers click the link, they can set the frequency and content of campaigns they receive.

A constant stream of promotional emails doesn’t build brand affinity, it drives shoppers away. Limit unsubscribes by sticking to a weekly email cadence or by letting shoppers set their own email frequency.

How to simplify your email marketing with Privy

We just reviewed a whole bunch of metrics and ways to improve them.

If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, you’re not alone.

But, Privy Email makes getting started and running your email marketing campaigns incredibly simple, allowing you to create targeted campaigns with professional looking email newsletters, promos, and updates, with a drag and drop editor that allows you to replicate and reuse your best emails.

Plus, the analytics dashboard inside Privy clearly shows the impact  of your emails where it matters most: sales.

Grow your email list from your ecommerce website

Capture email subscribers with Privy’s popups, banners, and flyouts, which you can use to create unique offers and coupons to fill your list with high-intent shoppers. 

Because the bigger your list is, the more revenue you’ll drive with every email you send.

Stay top of mind with professional emails

Communication is key if you want to retain customers. Privy’s drag-and-drop editor makes it easy to send on-brand emails that bring them back again and again.

Plus, there are tons of pre-made templates you can use to send emails immediately, without spending hours or days perfecting every single detail.

Drive sales with automated email campaigns

10-20%...that’s the percentage of abandoned carts most merchants save with Privy’s automated cart abandonment emails. Set them up once and start thinking about what you’ll do with all that extra revenue you’re recovering.

Plus, you can leave a lasting impression every time a customer buys. Whether you want to say thanks, ask for reviews, or suggest related products, purchase follow-ups do it for you automatically.

You can also send automated welcome emails and winbacks emails with Privy. Try Privy Email for free here.


Email Marketing Conversion FAQs

Want to know how to improve click-through rates and conversions on your email marketing campaigns? Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about making it happen.

What is a good email open rate?

In the e-commerce industry you should aim for a 20% open rate. But at the end of the day, what matters is the benchmark for your business. You might have a much higher average open rate, which means your target should be slightly higher than that.

What is a good email delivery rate?

At least 80%. If your emails are being delivered to less than 80% of your list, it’s time for some serious clean up and spam check ups.

Which email marketing benchmarks should I prioritize?

Two very important ones. Open rates, because if people aren’t opening your email, then you’re not accomplishing much (and putting in lots of work for low returns.) And click-to-open rates (CTOR), which will give you a good idea of how engaging the content in your email is.

Is email still an effective marketing channel?

Absolutely. Email has the highest ROI of any marketing channel and it’s the most direct way for businesses to communicate with their consumers. If you’re not using email marketing for your ecommerce business, you’re leaving money on the table every day.

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