Email Marketing Benchmarks: Open Rates, CTRs, Subject Lines

Email Marketing, Online Marketing — By on September 13, 2013 12:07 am
If you are not familiar with the technicalities of email marketing and sending newsletters, brace yourself for some game changing information that will help your email marketing campaigns be more successful than ever.
These numbers are based on over 1.4 billion opt-in newsletters from over 70,000 newsletter campaigns that were sent from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012 by MailMailer’s Email Marketing Metrics Report.


Open Rates

  • Email newsletter campaigns sent in the first half of 2012 had an average open rate of 9.7%, and those sent in the second half of the year had an average open rate of 10.0%.
  • Open rate peaked in the first hour after delivery, declined rapidly within the next 19 hours, and gradually diminished thereafter.
  • About half (51.7%) of all opens occurred within the first six hours after delivery. At 18 hours after delivery, three-quarters of total opens had occurred.


  • In contrast to the open rate data, personalization of both the subject line and message content resulted in the highest click rate (2.8%).
  • Personalization of only the message and only the subject line resulted in click rates of 2.4% and 2.1%, respectively.
  • Messages with no personalization had the lowest click rate (2.0%).


  • In the first half of 2012, open rate peaked on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10.7%. In the second half of the year, the highest open rate (10.6%) was on Tuesdays.
  • Sundays had the highest click rates—2.2% and 2.6% during 1H12 and 2H12, respectively. Tuesdays had the next best click rates for both halves of the year.
  • Messages scheduled for delivery between early evening and early morning led to better open rates.
  • Both 1H12 and 2H12 experienced their lowest open rates, 5.5% and 7.9%, for messages scheduled for 12 PM.
  • Open rates climbed rapidly after 4 AM, and peaked at 10 AM, after which they declined steadily throughout the rest of the day.
  • In general, emails were more likely to be opened during normal business hours, specifically between 8 AM to 5 PM.

Subject Lines

  • Email newsletters with short subject lines (4-15 characters) had the highest average open rate (15.8%) last year.
  • Longer subject lines resulted in lower open rates, though the effect on open rates diminished as the lengths increased.
  • Click rates also peaked when subject lines were kept short. Subject lines of 4-15 characters had the highest click rate (2.6%). Very long subject lines—over 51 characters—had the lowest click rate (1.6%).
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