B2B Email MarketingWe like to measure ourselves against something. We want to know that we are doing good work.

Is my my email click rate good? Is my search conversion rate where it should be? Is my brand lift above average?

Ummm, but what are you comparing yourself too? A number in some book or website, based on the results of businesses nothing like yours?

Stop. Now.

Published Benchmarks Are Garbage

Remember, a benchmark just reflects how the companies or marketers in the study are doing. Here are a few of the problems with published benchmarks:

  • Benchmarks are not exhaustive. They represent the results of a small sample of companies.
  • Measurement practices vary company to company and platform to platform. A benchmark averages together these apples, oranges and bananas as if they were all the same.
  • Benchmarks make easy to lie about your results. Even if you found a perfect benchmark for your company (and you won’t) and you beat the benchmark, how do you feel about 40% of companies doing better than you? Is that really something to feel good about?

Comparing Recent Reported Benchmarks

Need more? OK. If benchmarks were reliable data sources, benchmarks from various sources would align. But they don’t. They don’t even come close.

Here are five recent email benchmarks, side by side.

Benchmark Email Performance
Notes on chart statistics: Mailchimp results exclude companies with less than 50 employees. MailerMailer results are based on personalized email copy. All statistics are based on unique open and click rates where indicated.

So enough. Stop measuring your results against published benchmarks.

The One Benchmark That Matters

There is one benchmark you can use: your own historical performance.

  • Finally, a benchmark from a company just like yours! :-)
  • You have access to all of the intimate, and gory, details of the measurement methodology used.
  • You can find perfectly comparable activities and you have the insight needed into the mix of activities to actually draw conclusions from changes.
  • When you beat the benchmark, it means you are actively improving your results!

So stop measuring yourself against a collection of irrelevant benchmarks. Your own results are the only benchmark that really matters for your organization.

Your Turn

How do you feel about published benchmarks? Share your view in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).

Image Credit: Email by Keith Ramsey on Flickr