April 12, 2016

Email Research Chart: Which industries have the highest click-to-open rates?

SUMMARY: Beyond opens and clicks, click-to-open ratio indicates how engaging your email program is and how relevant your messages are to their recipients. This week we take a look at the reasons why click-to-open rates vary among industries and how marketers can increase their own email engagement rates. Discover the results of a recent study with 1831 global marketers across 16 industries about their email program click-to-open rates.
by Dr. Liva LaMontagne , Editorial Research Manager

Email is one of the top communication methods that customers want marketers to use. Still, not all email is equally successful at getting customers’ attention.

Beyond opens and clicks, click-to-open ratio can be a very useful metric to indicate how engaging your email program is. Of all the people who opened your email, how many acted upon its message?

This week we take a look at click-to-open rates across different industries, and how marketers can increase their own email engagement rates.


GetResponse, with partners Holistic Email Marketing and Smart Insights, conducted an online survey July and August 2015, with 1,831 marketers from its global customer base and Smart Insights’ audience. Nearly seventy percent (67.8%) held senior roles like CEO, director, owner, department head, or manager of marketing, digital marketing or ecommerce. More than one third (36.6%) were business owners.

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The top three industries by click-to-open rate (CTOR) were online advertising networks; finance,banking and insurance; and publishing and media, while vacation, hotel and leisure as well as agency emails took the last places.

The interpretation of email engagement metrics depends on product lifecycles, email types and other factors. Additionally, there is the caveat that the best benchmark for marketers is their own performance in the past. Nevertheless, what can we learn from these numbers?

CTOR provides useful information beyond open rates

If you only looked at open rates across industries, you would conclude that consumer goods, travel and transportation, and education create the most relevant email communications that resonate with consumers.

While these industries do have decent CTORs, which indicate high audience engagement, our ranking shows that by CTOR, online advertising networks, finance and publishing surpass consumer goods, transportation and education.

Michal Leszczynski, Content Marketing Manager, GetResponse, explained that click-to-open rates vary significantly between industries partly because of the nature of the products or services promoted in the message — some of them are purchased on a daily basis, while others like furniture or New Year's Eve trip packages may be ordered only once in a while.

He added that messages in some industries are more informational (e.g., upcoming changes in legislation) and require little or no action from the subscribers, whilst others are likely to be followed by an immediate action (e.g., stock market price value updates).

Also, Leszczynski noted that some markets are more competitive than others, which means users pay less attention to every message they receive, and hence click less frequently.

"It's always best to compare your results to the ones in your own market, and only after look at the average global statistics," he concluded.

Focus on the right metrics aligned with your goals

When asked for typical mistakes that marketers can make when trying to optimize their email campaigns and recommendations on avoiding those, Leszczynski mentioned three potential pitfalls.

First, many email marketers fail to test and optimize their campaigns.
Once they do, the next danger is making quick decisions based on short-term measurements, testing too many things at once, or focusing on the wrong metric.

"Typically, marketers look at open rates, yet care about sales, which are actually more related to clicks," Leszczynski said.

Finally, the destination where the traffic from email is sent to should be optimal.

"Some marketers still choose to direct their subscribers to the homepage — which may be somewhat cluttered — instead of a landing page that will have a single goal, that is, to make a sale," he added.

Related Resources

Subscribe to MarketingSherpa Chart of the Week — Get data and discoveries delivered to your inbox

The state of email marketing by industry [From GetResponse]

Marketing Research Chart: How consumers prefer to receive updates and promotions from brands [From the MarketingSherpa library]

Marketing Research Chart: How Millennials and Baby Boomers want to receive updates and promotions [From the MarketingSherpa library]

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