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2020 Email Benchmark Analysis: 4 Key Takeaways

As technologies continue to advance, it may feel like email marketing is in a state of constant flux. In reality, the more things change, the more they stay the same. No matter how fancy AI becomes, how accurate your predictive text is, or how far personalisation advances, email marketers are still likely to be debating tried and true factors like send time, open rates, and subject lines. 

Accordingly, metrics remain crucial to evaluating an email’s success. According to Gartner, analytics now account for 9.2% of marketing budgets, while investment in analytics technology is expected to increase by 200% in the next 3 years[1]. Despite this, it can often be tricky to know exactly how your metrics measure up. Does your open rate compare favourably to your competitors? How about your unsubscribes? 

Luckily, Campaign Monitor recently released their 2020 Australian Email Benchmarks Report[2], which analyses open rates, click-through rates, click-to-open rates, unsubscribe rates, and bounce rates across industries.

We’ve scoured the report to see what’s new, what’s trending, and what savvy email marketers need to know in 2020. Here are our 5 key takeaways. 

#1. Australia Leads The Way

If you’re an email marketing expert, Australia looks like a pretty good place to be. According to Campaign Monitor’s 2020 Email Benchmarks Report, which analysed average open rates, click-through rates, click-to-open rates, unsubscribe rates, and bounce rates in Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, and globally, Australia leads the way in a number of key areas. 

Firstly, the average email open rate in Australia is 18.70%, significantly higher than the US (17%), UK (17.5%), and global (17.8%) averages. Australia also leads the way for click-through rates, with an average of 2.8% compared to 2.5% in the US, 2.6% in the UK, and 2.6% globally.

Finally, Australia ranks #1 for click-to-open rates, with an average of 14.9% compared to 14.8% in the US, 13.4% in the UK, and 14.3% globally. 

Australia trails slightly when it comes to unsubscribe rates, with an average of 0.2%, which is tied with the UK, and slightly behind the US and global averages of 0.1%. We also trail slightly in bounce rates, with an average of 1%, compared to 0.6% in the US, 0.8% in the UK, and 0.7% globally. 

Collectively, this suggests that email marketing in Australia is in a strong position, although it may be worth devoting extra attention to email list health, given our average bounce rates are slightly higher than the global average.

#2. Rates Rise 

Australia’s strong performance compared to the global average was reinforced by a year-on-year increase from 2018 Australian averages. 

Click-through rates in Australia increased from an average of 2.7% in 2018 to 2.8% in 2019. Likewise, click-to-open rates enjoyed a big jump, from an average of 14.1% in 2018 to 14.9% in 2020[3].

Unsubscribe rates remained steady at 0.2%, which is in line with the global average.

While open rates in Australia decreased slightly from 2018 to 2019, they still over-performed by global standards, rising to 18.7% in 2019, compared to a global average of 17.9% in 2018[3]

These figures suggest that Australian email marketers are doing an excellent job of delivering subscribers relevant, personalised, and responsive content. 

#3. When to Send 

Email marketers have long debated the ‘best’ day and time to send an email. Study after study has examined this question. While Campaign Monitor’s analysis certainly doesn’t settle this debate, it does uncover several interesting points. 

According to Campaign Monitor, the best day to send an email in Australia for the highest open rate is Saturday. The average email open rate on Saturday in Australia is 19.6%, followed by 19.4% on Wednesday. Make sure you get your email out before midnight though, because open rates drop to a low of 18.3% on Sunday. 

For the highest click-through rate, it’s a four-way tie between Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday (all 2.9%). Click-through rates on Tuesday and Friday are close behind with 2.8%, while Sunday lags slightly with an average click-through rate of 2.7%. 

For the highest click-to-open rate, it is again a tie between Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday (all 15%). Sunday comes in last once more with a click-to-open rate of 14.8%, tied with Friday and Saturday. 

When it comes to the lowest bounce rate, Tuesday (0.8%) is the clear winner. Bounce rates increase noticeably on Friday (1.1%) and Saturday (1.2%), while all other days tie on 0.9%. 

Finally, unsubscribe rates remain stable at 0.2% on all days of the week. 

While this doesn’t necessarily crown a winner for ‘best send day’, it does illustrate a clear loser: Sunday. Sundays come last or equal-last in 4 of the 5 measured categories, showing it’s probably best to steer clear of sending any emails on Sundays. 

In terms of a winner, Wednesdays performed strongly, coming in equal-first for highest click-through and click-to-open rates, while coming a close second for highest open rates and lowest bounce rates. This shows the classic ‘middle of the week’ theory may still hold true. 

Equally, this analysis also illustrates that the ‘best’ send day varies significantly from brand to brand, as different audiences want different things. Given the closeness of these results and the ties in categories like click-through rates, unsubscribes, and click-to-open rates, it appears there is no definitive ‘best day’ to send an email. Rather, it is more important to have clearly defined goals, understand your brand, and send at a time that best suits your audience.

#4. Education Comes out on Top

If you’re an Australian email marketer, education may be the industry for you. According to Campaign Monitor’s analysis[2], the Education sector leads the way in several important categories, including open rates and click-through rates. 

Emails sent by the Education sector have an average open rate of 31.2% in Australia in 2020, followed closely by Automotive & Aerospace emails (30.7%), while Retail comes last with an average open rate of just 14.6%.

It is a similar story for click-through rates, where Education again comes out on top with an average of 5.6%, followed by Nonprofit (4%), while Travel, Hospitality, and Leisure comes in last with 1.4%. 

Media, Entertainment, and Publishing (20.4%) comes out on top for highest click-to-open rates, followed by Education (17.7%), with Logistics and Wholesale (8.4%) in last. 

Unsubscribe rates are fairly stable across all industries, with Media, Entertainment, and Publishing (0.1%) slightly lower than average, and Automotive and Aerospace (0.5%) slightly higher than average.

Bounce rates are also stable across most industries. Retail bounce rates (0.5%) are the lowest, while Automotive and Aerospace bounce rates are more than double the next highest industry at 4.3%. 

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