As with any marketing effort, it’s important to have goals. Email marketing is no different.

The big question is, how do you know what goal is realistic? Setting a goal for an 80 percent open rate sounds great in theory, but when you learn the average open rates hover around 25 percent, you quickly realize that you’ve set the bar too high.

To help you strive for obtainable and realistic goals, we’ve created this list of email benchmarks that you can refer to. We’ll also highlight the most important metrics and explain the factors that contribute to it.

Email marketing campaign benchmarks 

Average open rate: 20-30%

Open rates vary and depend on several variables, including your industry and subject lines. Pharmaceutical businesses, for example, typically see open rates of about 25 percent. Similarly, emails focused in the area of Publishing usually hover around 21 percent.

To see where your industry lands, check out this breakdown of open rates produced by Epsilon.

Subject lines play a big role in open rates too. If you aren’t writing short, attention-grabbing subject lines, your open rates will dwindle. Check out 6 Tips for Creating Compelling Subject Lines.

Average click-through rate: 2-6%

Every email you send should have a call-to-action (CTA). Whether you want customers to make a purchase or register for an upcoming event, if the call to action is clicked on, it’s tabulated in your click-through rate. Now this doesn’t mean the recipient took any specific action, it simply just measures the number of people that clicked on the call to action.

Click-through rates also vary by industry. You can refer to this chart from Epsilon to see a specific click-through rate for your business.

This is an important metric. If you have average or above-average click-through rates, that means you’re sending relevant messages that drive recipients to click on your links.

If your click-throughs are low, you should try sending a different kind of email to see if you can increase interest amongst your list. Take a look at ‘9 Emails that Every Business Should Send’ for inspiration.

Average conversion rate: 3-6%

When a customer opens an email, clicks on a link and takes action, you’ve hit the jackpot. This jackpot is also known as a conversion rate.

This is another crucial metric to watch. If your conversion rates are low, it’s time to figure out why customers aren’t following through.

Whatever your call to action is, it must be simple to complete. For example, if your call to action prompts recipients to make a purchase, make sure your checkout process is easy to navigate. If your call to action asks recipients to fill out a form, make sure the form only asks for the most vital information.

Unsubscribe rate: .05% or lower

Unsubscribe rates should only be a concern if your number is high. If you see a rate that’s higher than .05 percent, it’s time to rethink a few things.

One of the main reasons that people unsubscribe from emails is frequency of send. If you bombard your subscribers with too many messages, they’re likely to opt-out. Consider scaling back a bit.

Recipients also unsubscribe if the content they receive isn’t of interest. Consider sending out a survey that asks customers what they’d like to receive and tailor your content in that direction.

Learn more about email metrics in the third part of this guide, which focuses on tips to improve your metrics.

© 2015, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.