Are there any 'rules of thumb' regarding email response rates?


I am running a startup and I reached out to an industry publication that I read while I was working for my last employer (for advertising our product with them). I am interested in their email blast as their readers would be the exact type of person we will be targeting, but I want to see if it makes sense from a monetary standpoint. They mentioned that they have an average 14% open rate (across a variety of advertisers), but either didn't have or wouldn't share click through rates, etc. I was wondering if anyone had any experience on email response rates (e.g., is 0.5% reasonable or is it more likely to be 0.1% ... or 1% ... etc.).

In my last job, I worked with marketing a lot and a 0.5% response rate was average (for direct mail) while 0.75% or more was quite good. But I have a sneaky suspicion that email may be much worse.

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asked Jan 25 '12 at 13:11
53 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

2 Answers


Mailchimp's Email Marketing Benchmarks by Industry should do the trick.

answered Jan 31 '12 at 17:46
146 points
  • Thanks very much! This is very helpful. – Ktr 12 years ago


If they are able to detect open rate then you can be sure they have the numbers on click-through rates.

Reasons for not sharing that information could include:
1. Email click through rates are going to be based in part on the actual content of the message. It's hard to predict what your click through rate might be compared to another business.

  1. They are so low that they don't want to scare you off.
That said, click through rates aren't that important. What's important are conversions. In other words I couldn't care less about how many people link to my site from google. However, I am 100% interested in how many buy when coming from google. Make sense?

If you send 1000 emails and 1 person buys, is that acceptable? What about if it was 10,000 to 1? Considering email blasts are extremely cheap it might be a relatively cheap way to get a few clients.

answered Feb 1 '12 at 04:14
Chris Lively
443 points
  • Hey - thanks for the follow up. I understand your point - I guess I was thinking that click-throughs would be a good proxy for sales. Is that a bad assumption on my part? Also, regarding "email blasts are extremely cheap", the quote from the vendor I am considering didn't "feel" cheap - $3k for 10k emails (so $.30 an email). I'm just thinking that if I normally pay (just for the sake of argument) $2/click on Google, I would need 1500 people to click-through which is higher than their open rate. Does this seem expensive to you? Thanks again! – Ktr 12 years ago
  • @ktr: Are they actually designing the email that is going out? or are you pretty much just paying for their client list? Think about how you look for a product. Do you prefer to get it out of a magazine, something in your inbox, or do you google for it? Ask some others in your industry and target that. – Chris Lively 12 years ago
  • No, just for the client list. Regarding "looking for a product", we've been thinking that we have a fairly significant problem to solve, but people don't know what to look for ... To be more specific, we're developing something like "version control for Excel" (see [here]( I know it's a problem bc I dealt with it for far too long, but as a finance person I don't think people necessarily know how to search for the solution. So we were thinking getting in front of our "ideal client" might be persuasive. Thanks for the thoughts! – Ktr 12 years ago
  • @ktr: well that's kind of cool (nice site too). I can certainly see where your problem is: breaking new ground is difficult. I would suggest you take an add out in an industry magazine instead of trying to email their subscribers. – Chris Lively 12 years ago
  • Thanks for the suggestions and kind words :) I think we'll plan on trying something like that. Thanks again! – Ktr 12 years ago

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