Email Marketing
8 min

Email Marketing Benchmarks: Driving Engagement with Personalization


Did you know that an average person receives more than 120 emails a day (not including spam)? 

Email marketing is one of the oldest forms of digital communication brands use to communicate with customers. Emails have existed since before the invention of mobile phones—predating channels like push notifications, in-app messages, social media, and SMS. 

This begs the question: is email still relevant?

In this post, we’ll look at several industries to answer this question and determine their associated email marketing benchmarks.

Let’s jump in!


Email Marketing Benchmarks Overview

Despite the exaggerated claims about the death of email, our global industry report findings after analyzing 10.9 billion emails support the idea that email marketing around the world is as robust as ever. 

For this article, we’ve distilled the data down to 312.4 million emails sent over the past 12 months across the U.S. and Canada.

And what we’ve found is, that with numerous brands constantly bombarding email inboxes, a personalized approach to email marketing is the only way to cut through the noise and truly make an impact.


Email Personalization: A Closer Look

As we delve into the world of email marketing, it’s clear that personalization is key to standing out in a crowded inbox. 

But just how much of a difference does it make? 

Here, we’ve analyzed the performance of the following types of personalization:

  • Attribute-based Personalization: Tailoring emails based on customer demographics or profile attributes.
  • Behavior-based Personalization: Crafting emails in response to customer actions or inactions.
  • Customer Journey-based Personalization: Creating targeted emails that align with each customer journey stage.

We’ll cover these types in more detail below, but for each, we’ll reveal the average open rates, click-to-open rates (CTORs), conversion rates, and unsubscribe rates across various industries. By comparing these benchmarks, you can assess which personalization strategy resonates best with your audience.


Industries We Analyzed

Our analysis also covers a range of sectors, including Retail and E-commerce, Banking and Finance, Media and Entertainment, and Lifestyle. We’ll share insights into how personalization affects each industry and highlight best practices for leveraging a customer engagement platform to craft compelling, personalized emails.

Remember, conversion rates can vary widely based on your industry. 

Whether it’s measuring product purchases for E-commerce brands, credit card applications for banks, or subscription renewals for OTT platforms, we’ll help you understand what success looks like for your business.


Types of Emails Compared (with Examples)

For this article, we analyzed 312.4 million emails sent to customers in the USA and Canada via the MoEngage platform. As noted, we’ve identified the four most common types of emails marketers send. You can find the difference between them below!


Broadcast Emails: Emails Using No Personalization

Broadcast emails are those that are sent out to a large audience without segmentation or personalization, often resulting in recipients finding the email irrelevant.

These can include emails for product launches, business expansion announcements, generic offers, event invites, and more.


Emails Using Basic Attribute-based Personalization

Emails incorporating Attribute-based Personalization take distinct attributes of each customer to create a tailored experience.

For example, emails are customized based on the recipient’s name, gender, age, profession, and language.


Emails Using Behavior-based Personalization

Emails incorporating Behavior-based Personalization are tailored to individual customer preferences, actions, purchase trends, and overall behavior. 

For example, an email reminding customers to refill their wallet balance before it runs out during a necessary purchase. Or an email telling customers about the opening of a new location of their favorite sushi restaurant just around the corner.


Emails Using Journey-based Personalization

Emails incorporating Journey-based Personalization are the most contextual. They consider multi-step customer journeys and omnichannel flows.

This involves sending various message versions to customers across different channels at different times, based on each customer’s lifecycle stage. 

Emails that utilize this strategy perform much better as brands address specific customer needs and preferences via the right channels at the right time.

Now that you understand the difference between each email type, let’s examine industry-specific email marketing benchmarks.


Email Marketing Benchmarks by Industry

Email Marketing Benchmarks for Retail and E-commerce


Email Marketing Benchmarks for Banking and Finance


Email Marketing Benchmarks for the Media and Entertainment Industry


Email Marketing Benchmarks for the Lifestyle Industry


What These Email Marketing Benchmarks are Saying

These insights showcase that broadcast emails, irrespective of the industry, consistently yield the poorest results across all email marketing metrics because of their generic nature. 

Alternatively, emails with Behavior-based and Journey-based personalization have the highest open rates, CTORs, conversion rates, and lowest unsubscribe rates (depending on the industry), indicating that personalized and targeted emails yield better results.

  • The Retail and E-commerce industry benefits the most from Behavior-based email campaigns, with a significant 16x increase in conversion rates compared to broadcast emails.
  • The Banking and Finance industry has the highest conversion rates overall, with Journey-based emails achieving an 11.74% conversion rate.
  • The Media and Entertainment industry sees a dramatic increase in conversion rate with Journey-based emails, with a 13.8x increase over broadcast emails.
  • The Lifestyle industry has the lowest open rates for broadcast emails but sees a substantial improvement with Behavior-based and Journey-based campaigns, with 13x and 3.4x increases in conversion rates, respectively.

So, how can this information be used to generate successful email marketing campaigns?


Using Email Industry Benchmarks for Campaign Success

For all industries, focus on developing Journey-based email campaigns to improve engagement and conversion rates. 

On top of that, all industries should aim to keep unsubscribe rates low, particularly the Retail and E-commerce industry, which has the highest unsubscribe rates. This may be achieved by sending more relevant and personalized content to subscribers.

  • Retail and E-commerce businesses should begin investing in Behavior-based email marketing to maximize their conversion rates.
  • Banking and Finance companies should continue to enhance their Journey-based email marketing strategies to maintain high conversion rates.
  • Media and Entertainment businesses should capitalize on the significant increase in conversion rates with Journey-based emails.
  • Lifestyle brands have the potential to significantly improve their email marketing strategies across the board, especially by employing Behavior-based and Journey-based campaigns to increase open and conversion rates, respectively.

While it is recommended that you conduct A/B testing to see which email type works best for your brand, one clear thing is that focusing on personalization is crucial. You need to customize your emails based on where your customers are in their journey and how they engage with you and your products on your website/app. 

However, doing this manually isn’t feasible, especially if you have an extensive database of customers and operate in a dynamic market. 

This is where a personalization, customer engagement, and automation tool, such as a Customer Engagement Platform (CEP), comes in.

Regardless of the industry, the following are the best ways to leverage a CEP for executing your email personalization strategy successfully.


Best Practices for Email Marketing Using a Customer Engagement Platform (CEP)

Gather valuable insights about your customers

Use a CEP to learn about each customer’s attributes, behavior, preferences, interests, where they drop off in their journey, how they respond to different campaigns, etc. – all from a single dashboard. 

These insights are helpful regardless of your email personalization type, as they can be easily incorporated into your email campaigns to drive better conversions and optimize customer lifetime value. 

💡Pro tip: Bring together all the data from your online and offline channels (including but not limited to — traffic sources, POS data, and campaign trends) to create a Unified Customer Profile for all your customers in a single dashboard on MoEngage. 


Segment your customers based on their commonalities

Group your customers based on their affinity, preferences, interests, behavior, and propensity to perform a specific action on your website or mobile app. This will help you identify the right audience that needs email communication and drive higher ROI through personalized subject lines and email copy. 

Segmentation is beneficial if you are planning to implement Behavior-based and Journey-based personalization. 

💡Pro tip: Place each customer in a segment based on their Recency, Frequency, and Monetary (RFM) scores. This is where a platform like MoEngage becomes necessary. It allows you to segregate customers into buckets such as Loyal, Price-Sensitive, and About to Sleep. Based on these segments, you can decide which category of customers should receive which kind of emails. 


Engage customers at the right time, every time

Take the guesswork out of your email-sending timing by using artificial intelligence to determine the best time to send emails to each customer and automating the process. This will identify when each of your customers is most likely to view and interact with your message, increasing your CTORs and conversions and ultimately boosting your ROI. 

💡Pro tip: Leverage MoEngage’s AI-based Best Time to Send feature to automatically analyze individual customer behavior and engagement patterns to determine the best time to send an email to a customer and maximize their engagement. This will significantly improve your email performance and ROI.


Build seamless omnichannel journeys

Our recent Personalization Pulse Check report shows that 43.6% of customers interact with a brand on 3-4 channels before purchasing. This is why it is important to include email as part of a seamless and connected cross-channel strategy that spans SMS, mobile push notifications, website banners, in-app nudges, Google Ads, and more. 

Use the CEP’s automation capabilities to orchestrate customer journeys and let the platform automatically direct customers to the best-performing paths and drive maximum ROI.

This is especially useful if you are planning to implement Journey-based personalization. 

💡Pro tip: Experiment with various customer journeys using MoEngage’s Intelligent Path Optimizer to find the ideal one for each customer. This tool also helps you determine each customer’s best-performing channel, messaging frequency, and messaging sequence.


Email: The Forever Reigning King of Customer Communication 

As we’ve seen, email marketing has persevered through the digital revolution, pandemics, recessions, and budget cuts, delivering high ROI and immediate, measurable results. 

While this popular channel continues to deliver, it’s important to remember that based on these email marketing benchmarks, personalized emails are a must-have in your engagement toolkit if you want to beat brand fatigue and cut through the clutter

Don’t let basic personalization hold you back from achieving your customer engagement and revenue goals. Instead, experiment with Behavior-based and Journey-based Personalization and watch your email game skyrocket! 

Schedule a demo to discover how to level up your emails with personalization today.