Determining Email Open Rates and Reply Rates by Targeted Industry

Half a century ago, a young believer Ray Tomlinson created a tool that forever changed the communication process between people all around the world. This tool was called electronic emailing, later shortened to simply email. Since then, emails have become an essential part of everyday life. According to a recent survey by Statista, four billion people receive or send emails daily in 2021, so it is hard to imagine how people were exchanging information before its invention.

In B2B, email marketing became that ultimate instrument, which each lead generation company must master. According to Content Marketing Institute research, 81% of marketers mentioned email newsletters as their most popular form of content marketing, 87% of them said that emails are a top tool to distribute content, and 31% agreed that emails are the best way to nurture leads for B2B. These numbers mean only one thing—emails are deeply rooted in our daily and business life. But some things regarding this tool still remain uncovered. 

For a successful email campaign, your emails need to be opened and replied to. Depending on the industry you are working with, these two numbers may vary drastically. To help you define the benchmark of a successful email for your B2B organization, CIENCE Data Lab has prepared new research on the email open rates and reply rates by the industries targeted. 

Research Sample & Findings

Research and findings about email open and reply rates

The CIENCE team has analyzed over four million client data sample emails (4,035,374 emails to date), which had at least a thousand occurrences. This means that only those accounts which hit a thousand or more sent emails were included in the analysis to get more accurate results on the open rate and reply rate for each industry observed. Usually, these clients’ profiles had at least two months of activity with CIENCE. 

The data was gathered from January 2021 until August 2021, which is the most up-to-date research you can find on this topic online. The information presented already includes the latest changes in email marketing that occurred with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the effect it had on different industries. So, if you are reevaluating your email marketing strategies according to the new post-COVID realities, this article may contain some important insights for you.

1. General findings 

The data collected demonstrates the average open rate (OR) and reply rate (RR) for the emails sent to thirty-six different industries CIENCE has been collaborating with for the last seven months. The range of received results varies deeply from industry to industry. That is why, when defining the optimal email OR and RR of your company, you should compare it to the average number in the industry you target for a more accurate understanding of your company’s email success rate.

Targeted Industry

Open Rate

Reply Rate

Religion

36.42%

8.58%

Arts

31.62%

6.12%

Marketing & Advertising

30.88%

4.03%

Real Estate

29.32%

6.17%

Health, Wellness, & Fitness

29.10%

5.33%

Restaurant

28.96%

4.45%

Education

28.81%

6.03%

Software

27.34%

3.44%

Entertainment

27.30%

6.59%

Business Services

26.94%

5.71%

Non-Profit

26.79%

8.95%

Renewables & Environment

25.51%

8.21%

Information Technology & Services

25.04%

5.00%

Other

24.90%

6.19%

Apparel & Fashion

24.08%

4.94%

Agriculture

23.54%

6.84%

Architecture, Engineering, & Construction

23.19%

6.20%

Hospitality & Leisure

22.74%

6.36%

Legal

22.44%

6.82%

Consumer Packaged Goods

21.78%

5.76%

Government

21.73%

8.84%

Food & Beverages

21.69%

6.12%

Average

21.57%

6.15%

Biotechnology

20.61%

6.21%

Communications

20.36%

9.03%

Retail

18.53%

6.69%

Hospital & Health Care

18.04%

6.13%

Logistics & Supply Chain

17.72%

5.44%

Travel & Transportation

17.45%

6.87%

Automotive

17.44%

5.30%

Manufacturing

17.24%

6.72%

Oil & Energy

16.44%

7.09%

Pharmaceuticals

15.20%

7.72%

Utilities

14.49%

8.88%

Financial Services

14.31%

8.25%

Medical Devices

13.50%

13.16%

2. Average email open rate by targeted industries

As for the research results, when talking about OR, the highest number of opened emails is observed among such industries as Religion (36.42%), Arts (31.62%), and Marketing & Advertising (30.88%). Sending emails to companies working in industries like Utilities (14.49%), Financial Services (14.31%), and Medical Devices (13.50%) are the least likely to be opened. Take this information into account when optimizing your next email campaign.    

Email Open Rate and Reply Rate_1-1

3. Average reply rate by targeted industries

As for the email RR, companies working in Medical Devices (13.16%), Communications (9.03%), and Non-Profit (8.95%) industries reply to emails most frequently. Software (3.44%), Marketing & Advertising (4.03%), and Restaurant (4.45%) industries are the least likely to reply to any emails. This, of course, affects the conversion rate of the marketing campaign.

Email Open Rate and Reply Rate_2-1

A more detailed description of each industry involved is presented in the table above. Use it to define your industry’s average email OR and RR.

4. The most available industries to reach out to

Most available industries to reach out to - email marketing

Companies that are most likely to answer your email once it was opened include Medical Devices, with 97% of all opened emails getting a reply. Utilities are with 61% of all opened emails replied, and Financial Services with 57% of opened emails replied. This means that if you make sure to bypass the spam filters and catch the prospect’s attention with your email or even before sending it, you are statistically most likely to get an answer when targeting these industries. However, don’t forget that their open rate isn’t that high too.  

An interesting observation: The top 10 industries with the highest chances of replying to an opened email are those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, either positively (increased profit for Medical and Pharmaceutical industries), or negatively (crises for Travel & Transportation and Financial Services). Most probably, outside of the pandemic times, the average OR and RR of these industries vary slightly. 

5. The least available industries to reach out to

Least available industries to reach out to by email

Among the least responsive industries with the lowest likelihood to reply to opened emails are Software (12.5% replied emails out of all opened emails), Marketing & Advertising (13% replied emails out of all opened emails), and Restaurants (15% replied emails out of all opened emails) industries. However, it is important to state that the email OR of these industries is also much higher than the ones from the previous graph. When targeting industries out of this list, make sure to construct a very persuasive email that stands out from the dozens of other emails sent by your competitors. 

How to Improve Email Open Rates and Reply Rates 

If your email open rate and/or reply rate is lower than the average in your industry, you have to figure out ways to improve it. We’ve gathered a few tips for those still struggling with the email tool in B2B. 

1. Choose the right time to send an email.

What is the point of sending emails if no one even notices them? To increase your chances of sending a successful email, make sure that it gets delivered to your prospect’s inbox at the perfect timing. Spoiler alert: Our latest research has defined that Wednesday at 8 a.m. in your prospect’s time zone is the best time for sending a business email.

2. Start with writing a good subject line.

The subject line is the very first thing that can grab your prospect’s attention in your email specifically. Imagine receiving fifty emails a day with the subject line “Hello,” and you won’t be very fond of checking each and every email like that, right? Personalize your subject lines, make them creative to increase email OR, and consequently, email RR. Check out our article for more tips on subject lines for business emails

3. Always personalize each email.

Personalizing email in outreach

If with OR it is more or less clear, when it comes to RR, only the content of your email can force the prospect to reply to it. Personalized emails have much more chances to get a reply. So, learn how to write a personalized email or dedicate this job to someone who can do it for you.

4. Wrap up your email with a strong call to action.

To increase the chances of getting an answer, don’t forget to remind your prospect to reply to your email. Call-to-action (CTA) buttons are used for precisely this reason. Don’t overload your emails with CTAs, but adding a few won’t harm at all. 

5. Follow the tips from CIENCE.

There are dozen of other things to take into account when mastering email campaigns for your business. To improve your email's OR and RR, research for more information on your own, or simply consult with specialists

Read a B2B Sales Email Guide by CIENCE

Boost Your Email Open Rates and Reply Rates

The research on email OR and RR by industry only supports the claim that to conduct a successful email campaign for lead generation purposes, B2B marketers need to take into account a large number of features that are very individual for each business. Use the data provided to calculate the possible risks for your next campaign, apply the tips mentioned to improve your indicators, or reach out to us for assistance.