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5 Must-Know Email Marketing Statistics to Boost Your Small Business

Keep an eye on these key email marketing statistics to supercharge your small business's growth.

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By Sandra Stepan
Dyllan Hopewell
Edited by Dyllan Hopewell

Published January 11, 2024.

Woman monitoring email marketing statistics

Email marketing has one of the highest returns on investment for small businesses. For every dollar spent on a campaign, marketers report a yield of $36. While there are hundreds of email marketing stats out there, there are five important benchmarks to keep in your pocket at all times: the average open rate, spam rate, conversion rate, click-through rate, and unsubscribe rate.

If your campaigns are meeting or surpassing these key benchmarks, it's likely you're on the right track. If they're falling below them, it's a sign you may need to switch up your strategy. So save the essential email marketing stats below, and note the best ways to improve your campaign results with our tips.

Meet the expert

Sandra Stepan, a seasoned digital marketing and eCommerce expert, is the founder of SnapAdvantage. Her diverse portfolio includes collaborations with startups and companies with $20 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR), solidifying her as a leading resource for brands seeking growth and revenue optimization.

5 Email marketing statistics at a glance

Engagement metrics can vary by industry, but each of these to get a temperature check on the efficacy of your campaign

  1. The average spam complaint rate is 0.01%.
  2. A good email open rate is around 20%.
  3. The average click-through rate should be around 2.6%.
  4. A solid email conversion rate is 6%.
  5. A strong unsubscribe email rate is 0.2% or lower.

Let's take a closer look at each of these statistics and how you can improve your performance in each area.

1. Spam rate

You've spent all your time crafting the perfect campaign, only to end up getting flagged as spam. While not every email will resonate with your whole list, you want to keep your spam rate—the percentage of emails sent to your junk folder—low.

The more you end up in spam, the higher your spam rate. And a high spam rate can send entire campaigns into the junk box of your whole list.

What to aim for

On average, the email spam complaint rate is below 0.01%. Higher rates increase the likelihood of emails being filtered into spam folders or blocked, impacting your campaign's deliverability and overall effectiveness.

Improve your spam rate

This isn't just about avoiding spammy trigger words like "extra income". Your spam rate is determined by a number of factors, including your reputation (if you've been frequently flagged for spam before), your email's content, and its adherence to anti-spam laws.

  • Get clear consent: Use a transparent double opt-in approach when subscribers sign up to your list. This way, your emails are sent to interested and engaged recipients, reducing the likelihood of your emails being marked as spam.
  • Send only quality content: Create engaging, relevant, and valuable content for a targeted list of subscribers.
  • Maintain a healthy list: Regularly clean your email list to remove inactive or non-responsive subscribers.
  • Optimize for mobile: Ensure emails are responsive for all relevant devices.
  • Test: Regularly test emails for deliverability and engagement.
  • Comply with guidelines: Adhere to relevant anti-spam laws (CAN-SPAM, GDPR, etc.).

2. Open rate

Your open rate is the percentage of recipients who open your emails. This metric is often the measure of how effective your subject line is. But it's also affected by brand awareness and trust. Knowing your open rates will point you in the right direction when you optimize your email content and help you improve email engagement.

What to aim for

Open rate benchmarks can differ based on industry specifics and the size of your mailing list. As a general rule of thumb, achieving an open rate of 20% or above is a positive indicator of your email's initial impact.

Improve your open rate

Boosting your email open rate requires strategic tweaks and engaging content, getting your emails opened rather than binned.

  • Use compelling subject lines: Craft concise, intriguing subject lines that entice your recipients to open your emails.
  • Use the preheader text: Complement the subject line and provide more context to the email content. A good preheader entices people to click.
  • Test sender names: Experiment with different sender names to see if recognition affects open rates.
  • Optimize send times: Test different sending times and days to identify when your audience is most likely to open emails.

» Want to nail your preheader? Check out how to write email preview text (with examples).

3. Click-through rate (CTR)

CTR measures the percentage of subscribers who click on the links in your email. A high CTR shows your audience is genuinely interested in your offering. By monitoring this metric, you can identify what resonates with your audience, refine your messaging, and enhance engagement, which leads to more conversions.

What to aim for

Again, this benchmark varies, but you're on the right track if you're hitting a CTR of around 2.6%. To increase the CTR of your email marketing campaigns, focus on your call to action, subject line, and personalization.

Improve your click-through rate

Elevating your email click-through rate means compelling content and strategic call-to-action placement.

  • Use compelling CTAs: Use clear, action-oriented call-to-action buttons or text.
  • Use a visual hierarchy: Organize content for easy scanning and emphasize key points visually.
  • Add incentives: Provide incentives such as discounts or exclusive content to encourage clicks.
  • Optimize for mobile: Ensure your emails are mobile-friendly as a significant number of users open emails on mobile devices.

4. Conversion rate

Conversion rates indicate how many people took a desired action after reading your email, like buying a product or joining a webinar. A good conversion rate for small businesses translates to real dollars and cents. It's a clear sign that your emails aren't just eye candy—they make an impact and prompt action.

What to aim for

Unfortunately, there's no precise benchmark, but a click-to-conversion rate (recipients who clicked on a link and took a desired action) of 6% may be a good target.

Improve your conversion rate

You want your readers to buy your product, subscribe to your service, or perhaps get in touch with you for a special offering.

  • Segment your email list: Target specific audiences based on various criteria and customize content for each segment to ensure it resonates with their unique preferences and needs.
  • Create compelling and personalized content: Create compelling subject lines and personalized content using dynamic elements to ensure a more engaging and personalized experience for each subscriber.
  • Perform A/B testing: Test different versions of your email to see which one drives more conversions.
  • Communicate your value proposition: Clearly communicate the benefits of your offer to the subscribers.
  • Create a sense of urgency: Prompt immediate action using phrases like "limited time" or "exclusive offer".

» Here's how you can send email campaigns that work.

5. Unsubscribe rate

Your unsubscribe rate is the percentage of recipients who opt out of your emails. A rising unsubscribe rate is a red flag, indicating that something in your email content might be off-putting to your subscribers. This metric can help fine-tune campaigns and maintain a receptive audience.

What to aim for

A healthy benchmark to aim for is an unsubscribe rate of 0.2% or lower. Anything above could warrant a re-evaluation of your email strategy.

Improve your unsubscribe rate

Understanding and addressing factors behind unsubscribes can refine your email strategy and retention efforts.

  • Set transparent expectations: Be clear about your email frequency and content during signup.
  • Manage preferences: Offer easy-to-use preference centers, allowing subscribers to adjust preferences rather than immediately unsubscribe.
  • Launch re-engagement campaigns: Deploy targeted campaigns to win back inactive subscribers, such as a special offer before they opt out.
  • Exit surveys: Use exit surveys to gather feedback and insights from those unsubscribing to improve your future campaigns.

» Looking to re-engage your inactive subscribers? Check out these winback email tips.

Use benchmarks to improve your email marketing

After analyzing your email marketing statistics, the next step is optimization. Here's a concise guide on where to focus:

  • Profits and revenues: Evaluate the income generated from your email marketing campaigns. This includes assessing both the total income (revenues) and the net income after expenses (profits). Ensure these figures align with your email marketing benchmarks.
  • High-leverage metrics: Determine which email marketing metrics have the most significant impact on your business and concentrate your optimization efforts there. Typically, these include click-through and conversion rates.
  • A/B testing: Use A/B testing to experiment with elements that affect these key metrics. Test subject lines, send times, email copy, buttons, and other factors to determine what resonates best with your audience.
  • Iterate and improve: Continuously refine and enhance these elements to boost your email marketing performance.

Improving one metric can have a cascading effect on others. By optimizing the elements that matter most to your business, you can drive your email marketing closer to your desired goals.

» Try these tools to monitor your digital marketing KPIs.

Turn insights into impactful email marketing strategies

In email marketing, simplicity is key. Start with one data point you can optimize and use it as a foundation. Keep building upon it step by step and stay consistent. By paying attention to these statistics, you can refine your strategy and ensure your emails genuinely engage your audience.

If you need extra guidance, partner with an email marketing expert to nail your email marketing strategy the first time.