Visable 360
The B2B magazine for digital sales
Visable 360
The B2B magazine for digital sales
Tips & strategies18. August 2021

Email Marketing Benchmark 2021 report: how you fare within an industry comparison

Email marketing is an essential channel in the marketing mix. To understand where you can optimise your email marketing strategy, it pays off to take a look at the industry-specific performance indicators.

colleague looking in emails

Email Marketing Benchmark 2021 report based on 13 billion emails

Email marketing is a part of the online marketing mix that is here to stay – also in the new decade. The online boom caused by the corona pandemic has reinforced the trend towards digital messages even more – in the B2B segment too. According to the Email Marketing Benchmark 2021 report (German) from Episerver, not only did the number of retailers who tried out this marketing discipline for the first time increase in 2020, but also those of experienced marketers who aimed to get even more out of this channel.

Episerver analysed 13 billion emails sent in 2020 to around 470 companies – first and foremost destined for the DACH region. The report can help to discover when a campaign can be considered successful and how companies fare within an industry comparison.

The most important performance indicators within an industry comparison

Open rates and click rates are two decisive KPIs in email marketing. The average performance can be differentiated as follows within the selected industries:

Retail and e-commerce

Compared with other industries, retail and e-commerce performed below average in 2020 – despite the online boom due to the corona pandemic. The reason for this is the high competition in the email inbox: the number of retailers who leveraged email marketing for the first time grew significantly, and seasoned retailers intensified their efforts. The unique open rate, in other words the ratio between the number of tracked openings of an email and the number of messages sent, was at about 29.8 per cent, or 4.5 percentage points below the global average. The unique click rate, in other words the share of clicks on links in an email based on the number of successfully sent messages, is at 5 per cent two percentage points below the industry-wide medium value of 7 per cent.


In this category is where the automotive, machine systems, engineering and manufacturing are bundled. In so far as the companies concerned are mainly active in the B2B segment. The open factor, the ratio between the unique opens and the absolute opens, is at 3.2. This means an email was opened by 3.2 persons on average. The open average across all industries is at 2.68, which clearly shows that newsletters have a strong relevance for their readers. This can also be due to the forwarding of newsletters to other persons in the B2B decision-making process. The click factor of 3.1 in this industry was also excellent. This factor was at 2.39 on average across all industries.


In this category, B2C and B2B companies alike were analysed. The unique open rate at 30.4 per cent was four percentage points below average, and the absolute click rate was very close to the cross-industry medium value of 20 per cent. What stands out in this respect is that companies in the B2B segment fared somewhat better on average across nearly all KPIs than B2C companies. The click factor, above all, of 3.5 shows that the newsletter content left behind a long-lasting effect amongst the recipients.

Energy, supply and disposal economy

The energy, supply and disposal economy is also intensively B2B. In no other industry is the unique open rate (44 per cent) so high. It is a whole ten percentage points higher than the cross-industry medium value. The unique click rate (10 per cent, and thus three points above the general medium value) as well as the open factor (3.6) are exceptionally high. The newsletters in this industry shine with a high content of information on a whole, and the content sent is highly valuable amongst the recipients as well as obviously relevant.

3 tips for a better email marketing strategy

  • In many industries, emails sent to a small circle of readers performed above average in comparison. Which is why it is recommended you keep target groups small and create content specially catering to these recipients.
  • An above-average number of emails was opened and clicked outside of the typical sending times. So it goes without saying that the performance of emails should be analysed at off-peak times and possibly adapted for the sending time.
  • Short subject lines lead to better results than longer lines. At the same time, the first personal elements should be integrated here which grab the reader’s attention in their inbox. This may lead at least to higher open rates in some industries.
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