At VerticalResponse we think of emails campaign as snowflakes - each one is special and no two are exactly alike. But that doesn't mean you can't learn something by comparing your campaigns to the competition. Every year, email marketing grows in popularity and sophistication. That's a good thing. Yet, faced with so much rapid change, many marketers don't know what qualifies as a successful campaign or a dismal failure. That's bad.
We know it's tough to hit a moving target, so we figured we'd take a snapshot of this moment in email marketing. The result is VerticalResponse Trend Watch, a report which analyzes and segments the email marketing industry so companies of every stripe can evaluate their performance. Trend Watch establishes benchmarks for companies not only on the basis of industry category, but according to their size as well, allowing for a more complete – and realistic – assessment. Because while that two-man software startup and Microsoft may be in the same industry, their response rates may not be in the same league. Trend Watch lets companies compare results to their peers, as well as to the Davids and Goliaths of the world.
VerticalResponse studied our entire customer base, looking at firms that mailed to opt-in lists with as few as 50 members, those that mailed to opt-in lists with more than 500,000 members and all ranges between. Next, we segmented the companies by industry before breaking down campaigns according to size. This was an important step, since we wanted to avoid scenarios where customers with exceptionally large lists skewed the data.
That said, it should be recognized that the data included here represents extremely broad averages and does not take into account certain factors impacting campaign response such as:
Simply put, there is no single magic number for evaluating campaign success across all types of emails, but looking at the results for companies of a similar size in a similar industry is informative as long as marketers remember to consider these other variables. Given this, when reviewing the data below, readers should be careful not to attribute too much significance to minor statistical differences and focus instead on the broad conclusions that can be drawn from large disparities in results. All the data presented here is based on the total number of emails sent and the average rates recorded.
With a customer base comprised of thousands of companies combining to mail hundreds of thousands of campaigns through the VerticalResponse system, we had plenty of material to review when analyzing performance results. Our extensive look at the data for the first quarter of 2006 yielded some interesting conclusions: