In today’s digital age, email marketing remains one of the most effective channels for businesses to acquire and retain customers. With over 4.37 billion daily email users worldwide, email provides unparalleled reach and engagement at a relatively low cost. For these reasons, optimizing your email marketing strategy is more critical than ever.
One of the key metrics for gauging email success is the conversion rate. The conversion rate specifically measures what percentage of your email subscribers take your desired action, such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter.
This article will explore what constitutes a good email marketing conversion rate across different industries and campaign types. With this benchmarking data, you can better evaluate the performance of your own email program.
Understanding Conversion Rates in Email Marketing
The conversion rate in email marketing measures the percentage of email recipients who complete a desired action after receiving your email message. It quantifies how effective your email is at driving target customer behaviors.
Types of email marketing conversions:
- Sales conversions – Recipients making a purchase or adding items to their cart.
- Lead generation conversions – Recipients opting in for newsletters, content offers, and consultations.
- Traffic conversions – Recipients clicking through to specific pages on your website.
- Engagement conversions – Recipients interacting with your email via clicks, shares, and surveys.
Tracking conversion rates is essential because this metric directly quantifies how effective your email campaigns are at driving desired customer actions tied to core business goals.
High conversion rates indicate your messages are motivating recipients and providing a frictionless experience to convert.
Low rates suggest your emails lack resonance or value to compel action. Monitoring conversion rates over time enables ongoing optimization to improve email performance.
Whether aiming to increase sales, generate more leads, or grow web traffic, the conversion rate is one of the most insightful KPIs for benchmarking your success towards business growth. It provides a way to quantify the ROI of your email marketing efforts. For all these reasons, understanding your conversion rates is crucial for any business utilizing email campaigns.
Benchmarks and Industry Averages
Industry-specific benchmarks provide a helpful starting point for evaluating your email conversion rates, but there is no one-size-fits-all number. Conversion rate averages can vary widely based on factors like industry, email purpose, list size, and more.
According to Mailchimp, the average email conversion rate across all industries is around 2.9%. However, within industries, rates can range from 1.5% for retail emails to 4.6% for emails from non-profits.
Variations by industry result from differences in subscriber motivation and email content/offers. For example, subscribers may be more compelled to immediately donate or volunteer when contacted by non-profits versus making a purchase from a retail email.
Other factors like list size also influence conversion rate benchmarks. Smaller, targeted subscriber lists often see higher open and conversion rates compared to larger lists. The type of email campaign being analyzed matters too. For instance, promotional emails tend to convert at lower rates than purely informational newsletters.
The takeaway is that industry and campaign-specific averages provide an informative starting point for comparison. However, you must test and track conversion rates for your own subscriber segments and email types to accurately evaluate performance. There is no universal conversion rate target – success depends on your unique business goals and audience.
Factors Affecting Email Conversion Rates
1. Email Content and Design
Compelling subject lines are critical for getting your email opened in the first place. Research shows subject lines influence open rates. In fact, 64% of recipients choose to open an email based on the subject line alone.
Using subscriber names, specificity, emotional triggers, and clear value propositions grab attention. Within your email, the copy should clearly explain the offer or content while persuading subscribers to take action.
Drive conversions with a strong call-to-action button using contrasting colors, action-oriented language like “Register Now”, and placement near the top and in closing.
Visually, minimalist designs on a clean, mobile-friendly template allow easy navigation and quick action. Leave ample white space and avoid clutter.
2. List Quality and Segmentation
Higher open and conversion rates come from quality lists segmented demographically, by behaviors like past purchases, and by subscriber interests. Targeting niche subscriber segments ensures you are only marketing to those likely to find your content and offers relevant – the key to conversions.
3. Timing and Frequency
Use historical email data to determine what days and times your subscribers are most active and responsive. Sending emails when engagement is highest improves conversions. Finding the right email frequency is also key – you want consistent touchpoints but not so many that subscribers get overwhelmed.
4. Mobile Optimization
With the majority of emails opened on mobile, your content must be mobile-friendly. Use minimal scrolling, a single-column layout, larger buttons, and short paragraphs for scannability. Check templates on mobile screens during creation. Slow load times or cluttered navigation on mobile will tank conversions.
Insert subscriber names in subject lines and content. Dynamically swap in content tailored to the interests of each subscriber segment for maximum relevance. The more targeted your emails, the higher engagement and conversions will be. The graphic below from Mailmodo highlights some of the most important personalization elements you can use.
Measuring and Analyzing Conversion Rates
To start optimizing your rates, you need to accurately track email conversion performance. Email service providers offer built-in tools to measure conversion rates across campaigns.
Common metrics used include:
- Open rate – This measures the percentage of total recipients who opened your email. Aim for 20%+ open rates as a good benchmark. High open rates mean your subject lines and sender info are working.
- Click-through rate – The percentage who clicked on any links or buttons in your email reflects engagement. CTR of 2%+ is solid. High CTR means your content resonates.
- Bounce rate – If many people quickly leave your website after clicking your email, copy or landing pages may not match. Look for bounce rates under 50%.
- List growth rate – Growing your subscriber list is key. Benchmark against industry averages for list growth rates.
- Unsubscribe rate – Low single-digit unsubscribe rates are ideal. High unsubscribe rates signal relevance issues.
- Micro-conversions – Track content downloads, inquiries, and other small conversions to understand engagement.
Setting up conversion tracking involves adding code snippets to confirmation or thank you pages subscribers reach after taking action. This allows your ESP to log completions. Be sure to track micro-conversions too like content downloads.
Ongoing A/B testing is crucial for lifting conversion rates. Try different subject lines, content, designs, timing, and segments to find the optimal approach. Experiment frequently and double down on what works.
Monitoring these metrics and regular A/B testing provides the data needed to refine your email campaigns and strategy over time. Consistent optimization efforts can dramatically improve email conversion rates in the long run.
Strategies to Improve Email Conversion Rates
A/B Testing and Optimization
A/B testing allows you to experiment with different email elements like subject lines, sender names, content, design, calls-to-action, timing, segments, and more.
By testing a range of variants, you can determine which combination results in the highest open rates, click-through rates, and conversions for your subscribers. Analyze the results from each A/B test, then scale back poor-performing variants and send more emails using the winning combinations.
The key is to keep testing new elements and variants on an ongoing basis – since subscriber preferences change over time, what works best today may not in the future. Continual optimization through A/B testing will incrementally improve your email performance and conversions over the long run.
Segmentation and Targeting
Dividing your subscriber list into distinct segments allows you to send content tailored to each group. For example:
- You can segment by demographics like job title, industry, and seniority.
- Or segment by interests like bike racing, cooking, or volunteering.
- You can also segment by past behaviors like downloads, purchases, or pages visited.
By only sending subscribers content that is highly relevant to them based on segment, your emails will be more engaging and compelling.
Hyper-targeted emails demonstrate you understand your subscribers’ needs and preferences, building trust. With content precisely matching their interests or past behaviors, segmented emails generate higher click-through and conversion rates over generic blasts to your entire list.
Personalization and Dynamic Content
Personalizing content within your emails makes the messaging seem more valuable and exclusive to each subscriber.
Simple personalization includes inserting the recipient’s first name into the subject line or body of your email. You can also dynamically swap in product recommendations or content based on the subscriber’s past behaviors – for example, showing bike gear to cycling enthusiasts.
Content can also change based on the subscriber segment you are targeting – sending different content blocks to segments interested in cooking vs biking. The key is making the email feel like it was crafted just for them. The more tailored and relevant your content is, the more likely subscribers will engage with it, leading to higher conversion rates.
Social Proof and Trust-Building
Adding social proof elements like customer testimonials, ratings, reviews, and satisfaction guarantees can increase subscriber trust and reduce friction in converting.
For example, including a testimonial from a satisfied customer explaining how your product solved their problem provides third-party credibility. Displaying a high star rating and number of positive reviews is another trust signal, as shown in this example from OptinMonster.
You can also build goodwill and confidence by offering satisfaction guarantees, free trials, or free shipping.
When subscribers feel secure that you have a proven track record of delighting customers, they will be more willing to purchase your offering or provide contact information by converting. Reducing risk and substantiating your claims in this way ultimately leads to higher conversion rates.
Sense of Urgency
Creating a sense of urgency or scarcity in your email can prompt subscribers to take immediate action. This is often done by noting limited-time offers, one-day sales, or closing signup windows.
Pointing out dwindling inventory for a hot product also sparks action. The key is giving subscribers the perception that they will miss out if they don’t act quickly, whether that’s on a discount, bonus item, or the chance to purchase a coveted item.
This fear of missing out triggers decisiveness, rather than allowing the subscriber to ponder or delay action. Communicating that indecision will result in lost opportunity is powerful. Use urgency appropriately and ethically to incentivize the desired conversion behavior within a defined timeframe.
Retargeting involves tracking subscribers who did not initially convert and following up with tailored messaging to give them another chance. For example, if a subscriber added items to their cart but didn’t complete the transaction, you can send an abandoned cart email reminder.
Or if they visited a certain product page but left your website, you can serve them a browsing retargeting ad with that item. The key is remarketing to leads and subscribers who previously expressed interest but didn’t convert. Ongoing, personalized retargeting keeps your brand top of mind and allows you to incrementally recapture more conversions over time.
Common Pitfalls and Mistakes
Below are some common errors that hinder email conversion rates.
1. Sending at the Wrong Time
One of the biggest mistakes is not optimizing your email send times based on when your subscribers are most engaged. Sending at 3 p.m. on a Tuesday may be convenient for your schedule but terrible timing for opens and clicks.
Do research to determine if your audience is most active early morning, mid-day, or evenings/weekends. Look at your email data to identify the days of the week with the highest open and click rates. Always send when subscribers are most likely to engage.
2. Dull or Deceptive Subject Lines
Your subject line is the first and possibly only thing recipients see before deciding to open. Boring, generic, or misleading subjects will tank your open rates.
Avoid overused phrases like “Alert” or “Notification” and never lie. Use specific, benefit-driven subjects focused on what the reader will get – “5 Tips to Improve Your Metabolism” rather than “My Favorite Things!” Test a variety of styles frequently to determine what compels opens.
3. Irrelevant Subscribers
If you blast emails to a broad list containing subscribers with minimal interest in your offerings, low relevancy will damage deliverability, open rates, and conversions.
Continually curate your list by removing inactive contacts and using sign-up forms to capture demographics/interests to build targeted segments. Send content tailored to each group for higher relevancy.
4. Too Promotional
Content perceived as overly promotional or sales-focused rather than educational rarely converts. Emails should focus on delivering value – helpful advice, actionable tips, or entertaining content.
Overt selling should be minimal. Use a soft sell approach – provide useful information without pressure, weave in product benefits organically, and place your CTA at the end.
How to Avoid Common Email Conversion Mistakes
Here are a few things you can do to help you avoid some of these common mistakes that cost you your email conversions.
Poorly Targeted Lists: Continually prune your list by removing inactive subscribers and bouncebacks. Use double opt-in forms to build specific segments from the start based on demographics, interests, and needs. Send hyper-targeted content to each niche segment for maximum relevance.
Content Lacks Value: Avoid self-promotional content that focuses on you versus helping the reader. Provide value by sharing practical tips, actionable advice, or entertaining stories. Educate rather than promote. Weave in useful product suggestions organically. Lead with info the reader can benefit from.
Hard-to-Find CTAs: Make call-to-action buttons visually stand out through contrasting colors, bold text, sizing, and placement at the top/bottom. Ensure CTAs render and function properly across all email platforms and devices. Use A/B testing to determine the optimal CTA design and placement.
Overly Long, Text-Heavy: Write scannable emails with short paragraphs, bullet points, lists, bold text, headings, and white space. Focus on concise copy that allows easy skimming on mobile. Examine analytics on mobile opens to optimize content for small screens.
Lack of Mobile Optimization: Review your campaigns on multiple devices before sending. Check that CTAs and design elements work on mobile sizes. Adjust padding, text size, and layout as needed for a flawless experience across all platforms.
Conversion rate is one of the most critical metrics for evaluating the success of your email marketing efforts.
While industry benchmarks provide a helpful starting point, optimizing your rates involves digging into metrics for your specific segments and campaigns. By continually A/B testing and refining, you can incrementally improve subscriber engagement over time.