Curious about the state of email marketing? Silverpop has released the findings of its 2013 Email Marketing Benchmarks Study, which showed that email is still an effective channel for delivering personalized, dynamic messages at the right time.

What Successful Email Marketing Looks Like

The report, designed to help marketers gauge the performance of their email marketing campaigns, studied the email messages of 2,787 brands distributed throughout 2012, across a variety of industries.

Overall, education, computer hardware, telecom and electronics and retail were the highest performing verticals, with top-quartile performers achieving open rates slightly more than double the median and more than four times higher than bottom-quartile performers. What are top performers doing better than others?

  • They earned more opens per openers (how many times a recipient (or recipients, when the message is forwarded) opens the same message.
  • They had higher click-through rates: nearly four times higher than the median CTR of 2.3 percent.
  • They had click-to-open rates nearly double the median and three times higher than bottom performers.
  • They had lower bounce rates: top-performing companies had hard bounce rates roughly one-seventieth that of bottom performers – which, when mailing to a list of 500,000, would be the difference between 500 hard bounces and 35,000.



Within the specific verticals there were top performers as well. Emails sent by top performers in the education vertical had the highest unique open rate (46.1 percent) and highest click-through rate (12.8 percent), while healthcare had the best click-to-open rate (33 percent), which measures click-through rates as a percentage of messages opened.

Behaviors That Drive Email Marketing Success

We know the benchmarks that top performers have achieved, but what elements drove these results? The report does offer some insights about the behaviors that impacted open rates and click through rates, among others. For instance, top performers are notably more vigilant about verifying email addresses before adding them to the database and about performing list hygiene to remove undeliverable addresses.


Additionally, Silverpop notes that email messages with higher clicks per clicker usually reflect content that gives consumers several options to generate multiple unique clicks in a single message, or useful content the recipient wants to retain and consult more than once. Furthermore, emails that are long, include offer deadlines or are otherwise relevant and have a “shelf life” might be more likely to be opened a second time (or more).

Personalized, Revelant & Targeted

What can we learn from this? First, we can see how we measure up. Are you seeing similar results? If not, what might you do differently? Secondly, email, while still a viable platform to engage your customers and audience, may not be where you need to focus your efforts. Just as social media may not be the holy grail, ensuring that you’re reaching your audience where they are is more important. Finally, Silverpop reminds us that while messaging will differ from vertical to vertical, the report further emphasizes that all email communications should be highly personalized, relevant and targeted.