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FAQs: Get answers to eMail marketing questions

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FAQs: Get answers to eMail marketing questions

Here you can find answers to the most frequently asked questions about eMail marketing that we receive.


Q1. What’s the average click-through rate for eNewsletters?
Answer: The click-through rate or CTR (defined as the number of unique clicks as a percentage of eMails delivered) is important because unless prospects click-through, you won't get any conversions. There is no single “normal” click-through rate because CTRs depend on a range of factors: whether your market is B2B or B2C; the type of eMail you send; how relevant it is; the frequency; the opt-in process; personalisation; segmentation; and many other factors.

Most important of all is the number of links there are in the eMail and, where you are providing valuable content, whether you include the entire article within the eMail or you use a “sound bite” that requires prospects to click through to a web landing page.

Some companies calculate CTRs differently – they count total rather unique clicks. Many prospects will click on several links, This means that CTRs based on "total" clicks are often as much as two times higher than those based purely on "unique" clicks.

Here are some ranges for average CTRs for permission-based in-house lists. The CTR percentages we use are based on unique clicks (only one click per reader) and are defined as the number of unique clicks as a percentage of eMails delivered:

  • B2B eNewsletters typically range from 3% to 15%. If your CTRs are consistently below that level you are probably providing content of little relevance to your readers. Alternatively, you are including most of the content within the eMail and not giving subscribers a click-through option onto your landing pages
  • B2C eMails range from 2% to 12%. Lower than a 2% CTR may suggest over-mailing and poor opt-in processes
  • By using segmented and personalised lists, CTRs are often between 7% to 20%. eMail messages with valuable content but using unsegmented data are typically in the 5%-15% range
  • Trigger eMails (eMails that are sent to a recipient based on clicking on a link, visiting a specific web page, etc.) are normally in the 15% to 50% range
If your eMails are typically achieving under a 2-3% CTR, these could be some of the causes:

  • Not enough links. The more links the better. Make sure readers are continuously stumbling over links like price tickets in a supermarket
  • Poor layout and design. If your prospects can't work out where to click or aren't motivated by the layout, you won’t get the results you hoped for
  • Poorly written subject lines. They won’t motivate prospects to take action
  • Poor delivery rates. If your eMails are getting blocked or filtered, the CTR will be affected
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  • Poor open rates. If not many people open your eMails, prospects also won’t click-through
  • Poor permission processes. These errors include using pre-checked boxes; not making it clear what type of eMail they will be sent; automatically adding someone when they've actually signed up for something else; and so on
  • No reason to click. If the eNewsletter includes articles in their entirety, don't expect prospects to click – they will have no reason to. If your offers don't include a deadline or convey a discount, not many people are going to take action.
How to boost open and click through rates
eMail Marketing Metrics and Trends
Six principles for writing effective subject lines
Q2. What’s the average open rate for eNewsletters?
Answer: There are very many variables that affect open rates (defined as the number of unique opens as a percentage of eMails delivered) – making "average" open rates difficult to categorise. Having said that, our experience says that open rates (measured using unique opens – meaning only one open per recipient is counted) should be in the 25% to 35% range, with businesses only doing a “good” job falling within the 20-30% range.

Businesses with a double opt-in process; many new subscribers; compelling content; who follow Best Practices can achieve open rates in the 35% to 50%+ range.

Open rates have been declining over the years for several reasons. Blocked images and the widespread use of preview panes mean that some eMails are "viewed" but not counted as "opens". Conversely some are counted as opens when they are only viewed.

As recipients’ inboxes have become overwhelmed by subscribing to too many eNewsletters, they are opening fewer eNewsletters, even though they don’t hit the unsubscribe button.

Increasing your open rates
How to boost open and click through rates
12 Tips for Targeting Inactive Subscribers
Six principles for writing effective subject lines
Q3. What are the recommendations on plain text vs. graphically based/HTML eNewsletters?
Answer: The vast majority of all eMail render HTML eMails fairly well (exceptions include older versions of Lotus Notes and pre AOL 6.0). A few years ago the answer was rather complex but today it really comes down to the purpose of the message, subscriber choice and whether multipart messaging is used. Approximately 95% of B2B eMails are sent as HTML/Multipart.

  • Multipart Messaging – most current eMail marketing solutions send HTML messages as “multipart” messages ie both HTML and plain text. When the recipient’s eMail client receives a multipart message, it accepts the HTML version if it can render HTML, otherwise it accepts the plain text version. Some new clients enable users to choose to their own default setting of HTML or plain text messages.
  • Subscriber Preferences – eNewsletter subscribers mostly prefer the attractive nature of HTML eMails. But a small percentage of recipients prefer plain text. In some very specific markets like programmers, as much as 95% of subscribers prefer plain text. The key is to offer subscribers the choice when they first opt-in.
  • The purpose of the message – certain types of eMails lend themselves to plain text format, including confirmations, breaking news, etc.
Get help – use eMarket2’s eMail marketing services
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Related How2Guides
Here are links to additional resources on this topic at our site:
The importance of eMail subject lines
How To Optimise your From and Subject lines
More effective eMail subject lines
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