Benchmark yourself: What is your newsletter response rate?


By Daniela Castillo

Email campaign success depends on subscriber engagement. At a basic level, it’s important to understand how your subscribers are opening your mailings.

To do this you really need to look at ‘unique’ email opens. As subscribers may open your emails more than once, or forward them on to others who open them, it’s important to know the number of unique, or distinct people who actually opened the email.

As an example, you may send out your email to 4 subscribers, and one of them opens the email 4 times while the others do not open the email at all. You would see here a total of 4 opens and assume that all of the subscribers have actually opened the email, however it was only 1 person, or rather 1 unique open.

It’s important to evaluate your unique open rate in the context of the industry within which you’re operating. For example, Software and Media & Publishing industries usually tend to have higher unique open rates (around 20%) compared to other industries such as Education and Healthcare (around 15%).

Another important measure is the click through rate. Clicks let you know that your content was compelling enough for the reader to actually want to read more of it. When it comes to click through rate, it’s important to understand both the total email click throughs and the unique email click throughs. Total email click throughs refers to the number or percentage of clicks that were clicked on in a campaign (which can include clicks on multiple links in the same message), while unique click throughs only takes into account the unique people who clicked on a link.

Again it’s important to benchmark this against industry averages. Among various industries, the computer software industry is usually a strong performer (with an average unique CTR of 8.6%) as opposed to Travel and Leisure (with an average unique CTR of 2.3%).

One way to improve click through rates is to make the most of the area ‘above the fold’. By above the fold we are referring to the area that is generally visible in email preview panes (e.g. the email header). If your most interesting and engaging content appears above the fold, then there’s a higher probability that this is going to entice subscribers to click through.

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