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B2B Growth Marketing

Are You Among the World's Best B2B eMail Marketers?

  • July 27 2016
  • Galen Dow
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I Recently Had a Chance to Attend a Great IBM Webinar on B2B eMail Best Practices

I consume content, and lots of it. Unfortunately, I feel that a fair amount of it is useless, or just flat out wrong. That's why it's such a pleasure when you get to experience a real, deep learning opportunity! This one is good enough that I wanted to share some of what I thought stood out. If you are interested in B2B eMail KPIs and Stats then this webinar is for you.

The Webinar in question is the 2016 IBM eMail Marketing Benchmark Study, presented by Loren McDonald of IBM. This dude can rock data! You can access the b2b email webinar recording here.

One of the things that Loren points out that he does differently is that he provides not only average performance statistics, but also data representative of the Top Quartile of performance. This is helpful if you want to see what it will take not only to beat the average, but to acheive real top performance. Awesome, I wish more people segmented their data this way!

So his data and conclusions were gleaned from studying 2015 full year data from nearly 3,000 brands across 18 industries.

Is the Internet Getting Full?

One thing that I get asked fairly frequently, is "should I embrace Inbound Marketing now or have I sort of missed the opportunity". In other words, is Inbound Marketing or leveraging content in specific ways driving people to engage less frequently. Are we getting overwhelmed, jaded or otherwise immune to yet more content? A reason that I wanted to attend this webinar is that I've been looking for good, honest answers to that question. 

My operating hypothesis is that if content engagement rates are in decline across the key steps of the Inbound Marketing process, then yes, maybe The Internet is Getting Full, and we are all wasting our time. 

The data would support that key marketing email engagement metrics have remained stable now for a number of years. I continue to believe that if you adopt the mantra, Always Be Helping, and produce useful, educational or at least entertaining content, that you will always find a willing audience. In other words, there is no better time to get your Inbound Marketing house in order than now!


If you want to be an email marketer, live in Canada, or ANZ. Whereas overall open rates Average 21.8% and Top Quartile 41.6% (21.3% and 40.9% in US), in Canada the rates were 32.2% and 52.9% and ANZ 32.9% and 58.1%. Damn. Suppose they are culturally more trusting? Or more curious?

Below are some sample data points that you can use to measure if you are achieving b2b email best practices for verticals that I focus on, and a few others for reference:

Unique Open Rates

Industry Mean % Median % Top Quartile % Bottom Quartile %
Computer Hardware & Telecommunications 29.4 22.5 44.6 9.1
Computer Software & Online Services 20.8 17.4 39.8 7.5
Industrial Manufacturing & Utilities 25.9 22.5 46.5 10.9
Marketing Agencies & Services* 18.2 13.6 37.4 6.5
Schools & Education 30.9 27.3 58.7 8.4
Automobiles & Transportation 27.3 24.1 47.3 11.8
Banks & Financial Services 23.3 18.7 46.5 7.8
Consumer Products 25.1 21.1 48.1 8.6

* AMPED Mean Unique Open Rate 54%. We think it's because we take so much time making our content great, and only sending out great content, but we may be biased.

Transactional eMail Open Rates

This was a HUGE eye opener! For our clients that have a SaaS sign-up or ecommerce component of their business, we'll definitely be raising this. Transactional emails are those that support a transaction. You can imagine things like password changes, account changes, order acknowledgement, order status, shipping status etc. People tend to pay attention to these! Duh!

Unique Open Rates Mean % Median % Top Quartile % Bottom Quartile %
Overall Open Rates 21.8 18.3 41.6 7.9
Nontransactional Open Rates 21.6 18.3 41.1 7.9
Transactional Open Rates 47.1 48.0   73.5 19.5

Loren's conclusion, and I would have to agree, is that transactional emails are an enormously underleveraged opportunity for cross sell and next sell opportunites. You need to look at your transactional email design, content and workflows! You can get a lot of leverage here.

Click to Open Rate

We often talk about Open Rates and Click Through Rates, I thought this was a great KPI that we should be looking at. There's great data in the presentation about this and thoughts in the audio about what this metric means.


I very rarely recommend a webinar. This one I do.