Running a successful email campaign

Analyzing the results of your email campaigns can be tricky. What does your open rate mean? Is your content encouraging clicks? Do you have a high unsubscribe rate? No need to panic, we are here to share some benchmarks and advice! We analyzed the email campaigns sent with SendinBlue to understand the most relevant average metrics.

1. Performance indicators

We studied approximately 5,000 email campaigns sent by 2,600 typical SendinBlue customers over a 15-day period. This review provided the average metrics for an email campaign. Let’s start with a quick summary of key indicators for an email's success.

  • Open rate: Number of openers divided by number of emails delivered
  • Click rate: Number of clickers divided by number of emails delivered
  • Engagement rate: Number of clickers divided by number of openers
  • Unsubscribe rate: Number of unsubscribes divided by number of emails delivered
  • Complaint rate: Number of complaints (when recipients click on “Report as Spam”) divided by number of emails delivered. When this rate is above 0.1%, ISPs begin to view your emails with suspicion.
  • Hard bounce rate: Number of non-existent email addresses divided by number of emails sent

The table below shows the average email send metrics for users in our study.

Open rate 24.61%
Click rate 4.58%
Engagement rate 18.6%
Unsubscribe rate 0.31%
Complaint rate 0.05%
Hard bounce rate 0.6%

Next, we segmented these users into business verticals. The chart below shows the results of our analysis.

Business Vertical Open rate Click rate Hard bounce rate Complaint rate Unsubscribe rate
E-commerce Website 16.73% 2.52% 0.25% 0.03% 0.21%
B2C Product/Brand 21.79% 2.74% 0.35% 0.03% 0.28%
B2C Services 21.57% 2.43% 0.44% 0.03% 0.26%
B2B Services 21.03% 2.75% 0.71% 0.03% 0.29%
Marketing Agency 20.70% 2.51% 0.77% 0.03% 0.31%
Media 22.48% 4.65% 0.20% 0.01% 0.11%
Non-Profit Organization 25.45% 2.90% 0.44% 0.02% 0.18%
Government Agency 26.58% 3.70% 0.43% 0.02% 0.12%

2. Understanding and improving your email campaigns

Tip 1: The engagement rate

Reviewing the engagement rate is vital to analyzing your campaigns. It is distinct from the open rate - it puts the open and click rates in relative terms to help you understand your content's value to readers. For example, if you choose a poor subject line, your email will often remain unopened. In this case, the click rate does not reveal the true level of interest in your content because if there are fewer openers there will also be fewer clickers. On the other hand, if the engagement rate is high, this means that a lot of the openers became clickers, indicating that the content was interesting.

Tip 2: The complaint rate

A complaint means the recipient clicked on the "Report as Spam" link within their inbox. You should consider complaints carefully because this rate has a direct impact on your sending reputation. In fact, if your complaint rate with an ISP (Internet Service Provider, e.g. Yahoo, Hotmail, Orange, etc.) exceeds 0.1%  – the threshold adopted by most ISPs – your reputation as a sender will be damaged. Note that only some ISPs reveal information about complaint rates, namely Yahoo, AOL and Hotmail. ISPs such as Gmail keep the the number of complaints per campaign confidential. When reviewing your campaign report, analyze your complaint rate per ISP. If your complaint rate on any ISP exceeds 0.1%, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • How did you create your database? Does your database contain contacts that have not clearly given their explicit permission to receive your emails?
  • When was the last time your subscribers showed any sign of activity? The opt-in date may explain why your contacts don’t remember your brand and don’t know why they are receiving your emails.
  • How often are you sending your emails? Make sure that the marketing pressure is not too high.
  • Is the content of your emails relevant to all of your recipients?

Tip 3: The unsubscribe rate

We recommend analyzing your unsubscribe rate by comparing it to your click rate. As a general rule, the unsubscribe rate should equal about 1/10 of the click rate. If your unsubscribe rate is too close to your click rate, this can be a sign that your recipients did not like your campaign content, or did not recognize you.

Tip 4: The open rate per ISP

Each ISP (Gmail, Hotmail, etc.) has its own rules and tolerances in regard to campaign metrics statistics. That's why it is very important to look at the statistics for each ISP. By comparing the open rate across individual ISPs, you will be able to identify if your emails successfully reached your recipients’ inboxes. You can then concentrate on the ISPs with lower-than-average open rates and take steps to improve them (e.g. by improving the image/text ratio, targeting engaged contacts, etc.).