Email Marketing

Top Findings from the Marketo Email Marketing Benchmark

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email marketing benchmark sample reportThe Marketo Email Marketing Benchmark tracks what’s working – and what’s not – for today’s email marketers and top performers. Here are just a few of the stand-out findings in the report. For even more email marketing findings and best practices, watch my American Marketing Association webinar, where I drill into some of the coolest findings from this innovative benchmark.

You can also fill out the survey yourself to get an instant, free customized report that shows you how your company compares to the industry benchmarks and top performers, including personalized recommendations for improving performance.

Top performers use more email marketing tactics and get higher ROI

The survey asked responders to identify how often they used eight common email marketing tactics, and how much increase in ROI they see from the various tactics (see descriptions below). The most commonly used tactics were Segmentation and Custom Landing Pages.   Segmentation is also the highest ROI tactic, while drip marketing and triggered emails were the tactics with the highest gap between ROI potential and actual use.

Email Marketing Benchmark Capabilities vs ROI


Interestingly, top performers were more likely than average to use all the tactics listed, and to see higher ROI from the tactics.  Segmentation, custom landing pages, and drip marketing were the tactics with the biggest gain for top performers.

Email Benchmark Top Perfomers


  • Testing: An effective email testing strategy can help increase open, click, and conversion rates by improving the relevance of your marketing messages. You can test subject lines, copy, graphics, calls to action, frequency, timing, and more.
  • Segmentation: Segmentation is the ability to target exactly the right message to the right customers at the right time. Email campaign results tend to improve when targeting fine-tuned audiences. That’s why the best segmentation solutions combine demographic and firmographic attributes with behavioral and online data to achieve targeted email marketing.
  • Triggered emails: Individual customers receive triggered emails when they demonstrate specific behaviors (or lack thereof). For example, if a prospect visited your pricing page but didn’t fill out a contact form, then a triggered email could invite him to a weekly event to learn more. According to some studies, the effective use of triggered emails can improve open rates by over 50% and conversion rates by more than 350%.
  • Drip marketing / lead nurturing: Lead nurturing is the practice of keeping in touch with prospective qualified customers regardless of their timing to buy. Done right, it can result in 50% more sales qualified leads at 33% lower cost. Although lead nurturing often consists of interactions over many channels, many companies incorporate drip email marketing into their nurturing strategy.
  • Custom landing pages from an email: The landing page is an essential part of many email marketing campaigns. By directing clicks to a landing page customized for a specific email rather than a generic home page, marketers can significantly improve their conversion rates.
  • Text emails from a sales rep: Emails sent via individual sales rep email addresses can perform far better than traditional marketing emails. Such campaigns deliver dramatically improved engagement rates because they leverage the power of the “human touch” and begin building a relationship between rep and prospect.
  • Including social sharing links: Embedding social sharing capabilities in emails enable customers and prospects to amplify your message to their social networks.
  • Dynamic content: Dynamic content can increase email relevance by customizing emails based on various customer or prospect attributes. For example, emails sent to customers in Manufacturing would include different copy and images than those sent to customers in the Financial Services industry.

Top performers are more likely to say significant parts of their list are inactive

Marketers were surprisingly harsh about the quality of their mailing lists. When asked ‘What percent of your list do you consider inactive?’ the most common answer was 26-50%, and more than 20% of responders said 51-75%.  Top Performers were even harsher about the average level of engagement in their lists.

Inactive Email List

This is likely to mean that top performers are better at knowing how much of their list is truly inactive.

Trusted emails have lower bounce and unsubscribe rates

Trust is a critical component of email success. If your audience trusts your emails, they are more likely to open them, less likely to unsubscribe, and are much less likely to mark your messages as spam.

In the survey, only 54% of responders agreed with the statement “my audience trusts my emails”.  Across these responders, the average unsubscribe rate was 0.11% – 0.2% and the average bounce rate was 2.1 – 5%.  However 100% of top performers said their audience trusts their emails, and these top performers saw lower unsubscribe and bounce rates (0.06% – 0.10% and <= 2% respectively).

Trust in email

The way you build your email list has a large impact on whether recipients trust your emails

Another finding was the impact of data sources and opt-in on trust.  Companies that use single or double opt-in methods were significantly more likely to say their emails are trusted; companies that only use opt-out were less likely to say their emails were trusted. Companies that use third party lists and data vendors to build their lists were also less likely to say  their emails were trusted, compared to companies that use more permission-based techniques such as referrals and website forms.

List Building Impact on Trust

Top performers spend more time on email marketing strategy

When asked where they spend their time on email marketing, most companies spend a significant portion on creative and content creation. However, top performers spend significantly more time overall on email, and proportionally more time on strategy and less on creative and content. We should point out that since top performers spend more time and invest more money overall on email marketing, it means top performers don’t necessarily spend less overall time on creative and content.

Email Marketing Strategy - Hours per Week

More findings

Fill out the survey yourself (it takes less than 10 minutes) to see all the findings and to get your own customized report.

Take The Email Marketing Benchmark Survey