Despite the proliferation of social media sites and connected apps, email still remains the marketing channel with the highest return on investment. According to the Direct Marketing Association, email has a median ROI of 122%, four times that of other channels like social media and paid search. There's a great deal of interest among businesses about how to increase the effectiveness of their emails.

Various sources provide guidance on optimizing email campaigns focuses on open rates. Open rate is a natural indicator of campaign effectiveness, as it suggests a customer's first engagement with an email. Marketing emails typically have open rates ranging from 17-27%.

Since much of the research on email campaigns is focused on large companies, we thought it would be interesting to see how the small business customers of ThriveHive compare to industry standards. To do so, we examined 3,621 emails across 169 businesses actively sending campaign emails.

ThriveHive Customer Email Open Rates

The open rates for ThriveHive users' email campaigns are, on average, 41%, about double the industry standard (21%). The same is true for click-through rate, with ThriveHive users' campaigns achieving rates of 6% versus the 3% industry standard. However, our opt-out rates are marginally higher.

This open rate is likely due to ThriveHive customers sending emails campaigns to small, targeted groups of their customers. Typically ThriveHive customers' campaigns reach between 70 and 580 people.

Email Open Rates by Industry

In order to gain a more complete understanding of campaign effectiveness, it's important to look at open rates by industry. It's difficult to compare industry categories for small businesses, but here are the statistics for a few of the industries we have in common with other benchmark sources:

As you can see, the picture is a bit more nuanced. Computers and Electronics businesses and Entertainment and Events businesses have lower than standard open rates, while businesses in the Health and Fitness and Professional Services industries have much higher than standard. It's an interesting difference that makes sense to explore further.

In the another blog post, we'll walk through some potential explanations for these industry-level differences and what they can tell us about email marketing generally.