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Almost everyone we know beats themselves up about email marketing. 

The rhetoric around this self-flagellation is usually based on one (or more!) of these:

  • “I’m not doing email marketing and I should!”
  • “My email list is too small, I really need to grow it!”
  • “I’m not emailing my list often enough, I need to do more email marketing!”
  • “I’m emailing all the time, but nobody ever reads my stuff!”
  • “Email marketing isn’t working for my business, I never get any sales from it!”

Notice all the shoulds and exclamation points? They’re a clue that these strong statements are based on guilt, rather than an examination of the facts. It’s easy to feel as though you’re doing a bad job with email marketing because we all have such high expectations; the reality could well be the opposite.

Email marketing is an excellent way to grow your business

We don’t dispute that. Here are a few of the reasons:

  • You own the data, nasty old Facebook, for example, can’t take it away from you on a whim.
  • It’s cheap and quick to send an email.
  • When you do it well, you build a close relationship with your reader, because you’re sending your messages into their world (i.e. their inbox) and because it feels like a ‘one to one’ medium, rather than a ‘one to many’ conversation (like social media).

The downside? Email marketing seems to generate a whole heap of business owner guilt, which we tend to use, like an old slipper, to beat ourselves. 

So, in the spirit of authenticity, today I’m going to share some data about our own email marketing campaigns, so that you have a genuine benchmark on which to judge your own!

Bear in mind that all audiences are different, and your mailing list might be VERY different from ours. For example, a mailing list for a consumer business, selling products would probably be much larger than our B2B, services list, but less engaged at the same time.  

Our approach to email marketing

We email our list once per week, except during the summer when we have a little break (because who wants to read about marketing while they sip a Margarita from a sun lounger?!). 

We alternate between our ‘full’ ‘The Drawing Board’ email, which we send on alternating Wednesday mornings, and our ‘One Thing’ email, which we send on alternating Thursdays. The Drawing Board includes our most recent blog post and a curated selection of very useful articles, videos or podcasts we’ve found on our travels around the web. Our ‘One Thing’ email is where we share one really useful tip or piece of advice that’s practical, quick and easy to implement. We sometimes share promotions for our services in our One Thing emails, because after all, we are running a business so we need to sell our stuff!

When we want to send a special offer or sales email, we send those separately and on an ad hoc basis.

(Here’s the place to sign up for our emails if you aren’t already getting them, btw, they are very good as you can see from the quote on the landing page!)

Email list size

We don’t have a huge list. 

We are always working on growing it, but right now it stands at 299 people. 

Okay, it’s a bit embarrassing to share the skinny nature of our list, but there’s a reason why it’s small: we regularly clean it. Every couple of months, we actively remove anyone that has signed up to receive our emails but doesn’t read them. We do this because having a list of only active, engaged readers improves the rating of our list and helps to communicate the quality of our content to the tech guardians of email inboxes. This means that our emails are less likely to go into spam folders. Also, there’s just no point in sending emails to people who aren’t interested in them, no matter how big you’d like your list to be. Sometimes smaller really can be better. 

The Stats

In order to judge the success of your email marketing, there are a number of stats you could track, here are three of the most useful. The first two numbers are readily available inside email marketing platforms such as Mailchimp, Active Campaign or Mailerlite (the one we use). The third stat you often have to calculate yourself.

  1. Open rate (the number or percentage of people that have opened your email).
  2. Click rate (the number or percentage of people that have clicked through one of the links in your email).
  3. Click-to-open rate (the percentage of the people that opened your email who then clicked something. You calculate this one by dividing the number of contacts who clicked by the total number of people who opened your email and then multiply by 100.)

According to this article in Campaign Monitor, these are the current average stats for businesses: 

A look into email marketing average stats for businesses

Source: www.campaignmonitor.com


Here are the average results for OUR three most recent campaigns, for each type of email.

The Drawing Board emails

  • Average open rate: 35.5
  • Average click rate: 9.91
  • Average click-to-open rate: 27.91

‘One Thing’ emails

  • Average open rate: 34.36
  • Average click rate: 6.06
  • Average click-to-open rate: 18.29

You’ll notice that the One Thing emails have a much lower click rate and click-to-open rate than The Drawing Board emails. This is because they usually don’t contain many links, just the footer ones in our email template.

Are these numbers stellar? No. 

Do they meet the averages? Mostly. 

Are we happy with them? Sort of.

The most important thing is that we aren’t beating ourselves up about these numbers. We’re constantly working to improve them (and they are improving over time), but we don’t let them get us down. We know that consistently sending useful stuff helps us to deliver on our brand values of being helpful and encouraging. 

Whatever your own numbers look like, and however you’re currently making yourself feel guilty, we hope this helps to alleviate some of the pressure you’re putting yourself under! 

And, if you want to improve your email marketing strategy, or develop one from scratch, get in touch with us to book a chat about how we could help.


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