Email marketing benchmark report shows personalized subject lines under-perform

Email click through rates dropped significantly last year, while personalized content in the body of the email was seen to get better results than personalized subject lines, according to a study by marketing automation developer GetResponse.

Emails with personalized subject lines actually get lower open rates (18.79%) than those with generic ones (22.14%). This trend holds true for click through as well. The personalized subject line click through rate was 1.74% versus 2.74%. On the other hand, personalization in the body of the email got much better open and click through rates (23.4% and 3.18%) compared to generic text (20.59% and 2.4%)

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Average click-through rates dropped from 3.43% in 2020 to 2.13% last year, while average open rates remained essentially unchanged (22.15% versus 22.02%). This last is especially interesting as it was expected Apple’s opt-in policy would hurt opening rates.

Read next: What is email marketing and how are platforms helping brands succeed?

Overall the report found: 

  • The average email open rate is 19.66%
  • The average email click-through rate is 2.02%
  • The average email click-to-open rate is 9.94%
  • The average email unsubscribe rate is 0.11%
  • The average email spam complaint rate is 0.01%
  • The average email bounce rate is 2.76%

Why we care. The recipe for email marketing is continually changing. As the survey shows, little things can make a huge difference. It could be there’s a creepiness factor to personalized subject lines or it could be something else. But if the report is correct to conclude that personalized content in the body of the email is performing well for open rates, that must mean content that can be seen in the pre-header. After all, other than those first few words, I don’t know what the content is until I’ve opened it.

About The Author

Constantine von Hoffman is managing editor of MarTech. A veteran journalist, Con has covered business, finance, marketing and tech for, Brandweek, CMO, and Inc. He has been city editor of the Boston Herald, news producer at NPR, and has written for Harvard Business Review, Boston Magazine, Sierra, and many other publications. He has also been a professional stand-up comedian, given talks at anime and gaming conventions on everything from My Neighbor Totoro to the history of dice and boardgames, and is author of the magical realist novel John Henry the Revelator. He lives in Boston with his wife, Jennifer, and either too many or too few dogs.

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