Response Metrics: How to Crunch the Numbers

Greetings! Many of you asked for industry standard numbers regarding email. Thanks to various people sharing and some research, we have numbers for you.

A caveat: You need to take into account many, many factors when you set a response number goal. Let me run down a list of some things you should take into consideration:

  • Audience. Evaluate the offer that brought these customers to you or to the list you’re using. If permission was shakily described (or you are even assuming permission was provided at some point in time), reduce your expectations proportionally. The best responders have explicitly and consciously given you permission to contact them via email. Better still if you made them aware that email messages would contain offers.
  • Content relative to audience. If someone’s opted in to receive your newsletter, he should be responsive. Click-throughs on our own newsletter are above 70 percent. We try not to let this go to our heads. The letter is new, and the list is small and very targeted. We see exceptional results that exceed the numbers below for clients who are truly following the “rules” associated with the permission they were granted and the content they are sending.
  • Call to action. Are you requesting a name or trying to make a sale? Email direct sales deliver conversion rates lower than offers for a free report in exchange for the ability to send email offers.
  • Industry. Business-to-business (B2B) versus business-to-consumer (B2C) versus bricks-and-clicks, and so on. If you can find peers in your industry doing email, and who are willing to share information, you might find a more accurate way to measure your success.
  • List size. As a savvy reader reminded me, smaller lists have inflated response percentages. Hence, some of our smaller clients mentioned above have those great click-through rates.

All that said (and I’m sure you can think of variables you and your own business need to consider), the following are from a study released by Jupiter Media Metrix in October 2001:

  • Click-through on acquisition: 5 percent, down from 7 percent in 2000
  • Click-through on retention: 8 percent, down from 10 percent in 2000
  • Acquisition conversion (not defined): 2 percent, down from 2.5 percent in 2000
  • Retention conversion (not defined): 3 percent, down from 5 percent in 2000
  • Opt-out rates on house lists: should not exceed 0.5 percent; ideally below 0.2 percent
  • 80-90 percent of your responses will be returned within 48 hours

I hope this information plugs a few holes and provides some baseline standards. Please don’t base your entire campaign based on this information, nor shoot your email plans. The most important thing for you to consider overall is whether email is adding to your bottom line or enhancing your branding, whichever is your goal. You know your business best!

Until next time, have a great week.

–Jackie G.

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