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The Latest Association Email Usage and Engagement Benchmarks

The latest report on email benchmarks is now available! Gauge your association’s email marketing performance and gain actionable advice  

The latest report on email benchmarks is now available! Gauge your association’s email marketing performance and gain actionable advice.    

The Easy Question That’s Not So Easy  

At some point, anyone leading association and organization communication efforts gets the question, “How’s our email performance?”  

Sounds like a simple question, but there are a lot of different metrics that can indicate the health of your email campaign, including: 

  • How many of your emails are successfully delivered to inboxes? 
  • How many recipients open your emails? 
  • How many recipients are moved to take action by your CTAs? 
  • How does your email performance compare to industry averages?
How to Judge Your Email Performance 

The only way to answer any of these questions is to track your own email metrics as well as keeping an eye on relevant industry benchmark metrics to compare them to. Tracking both consistently will give you a better idea of which of your strategies and tactics worked best and which made no measurable difference.   

Every association’s membership is different. So while it’s important to watch wider benchmarks, it’s also important to take what you see from them, then test those variables with your own audience. Your members will show you what’s right for them, but benchmarks will give you a great place to start.   

The 2022 Higher Logic Email Benchmarking Report  

Higher Logic collected and analyzed an anonymized data sample from our association customer base – over 1,500 organizations in the United States, Australia, and Canada and over 2 billion emails sent. The resulting 2022 Email Benchmark Report, which is now available free, explores the email usage and performance of marketers specifically in the association industry.   

The full report offers information on the following, plus expert tips on how to act on these findings: 

  • Average email open, click, and unsubsribe rates for associations 
  • The impact of Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection feature on open and click rates  
  • Factors that impact message performance including send day, subject line length, and list size  
  • Email volume
Now That’s Interesting  

Some of key takeaways from the report include: 

  • It’s noisy out there. Email volume went up 17% between 2021 and 2022. 
  • Average click rates went down slightly from 2.42% in 2021 to 2.32% in 2022. 
  • Average unsubscribe rates remained favorable in both 2021 and 2022 at just 0.05%.
  • Average open rates went up from 27.45% in 2021 to 34.63% in 2022. 
  • Mobile open rates declined drastically due to Apple Mail Privacy Protection. In 2018, mobile open rates averaged 41%. In 2021 they averaged 8.81% and in 2022 they averaged 3.25%. 
  • Emails sent to lists under 500 recipients had better open rates than those sent to larger lists. 
  • Emails with subject lines of less than 19 characters had higher open rates than those with longer subject lines. 
  • The day of the week emails are sent doesn’t have much of an impact on open or rates anymore.
What Email Metrics Should You Track? 

While you shouldn’t become overly reliant on things like open and click rates, keeping track of them as a litmus test for how things are going is a good idea. It’s helpful to be able to review the trends in your metrics over time and have a baseline against which to compare the performance of individual emails, or your A/B tests.

Check out our guide to reviewing your own data and running your own A/B tests.  What A/B Tests Can You Try? 

You can also run specific A/B tests to test our different strategies resonate with your audience. Wondering whether a more casual or more subject line will lead to more open rates? Test it! Want to know whether you have a higher click rate with an image-heavy vs. Text-heavy message? You can look into that too. A/B tests are a great way to try something new in a way that feels less risky – and they give you a way to measure whether that new tactic is better than what you were doing before.  

Check out our guide to reviewing your own data and running your own A/B tests.
It’s Always Great to Know Where You Stand  

Email marketing requires regular evaluation and adaptation. You never want to just stick with the “way you’ve always done it” unless you have the data to show that that strategy is still effective. Knowing how your email performance compares to industry averages helps assess whether your efforts are having the right impact or whether it’s time to try something new.   

Getting comfortable looking at your association’s email metrics enables you to better pivot when you need to and helps you communicate more effectively with your association’s leadership when they ask about a campaign’s performance or why you chose certain methods. When you have the data to prove that shorter emails or shorter subject lines drive higher engagement, it’s much easier to make the case that streamline marketing copy, for example. (Not to mention, if registration is low for an event, but email opens and clicks were high, you’re better prepared to defend your email marketing and look into other factors that might be hindering event interest, like landing page copy, pricing, a website loading issue, etc.)  

Be sure to download your copy of the 2022 Email Benchmark Report to explore all the valuable findings and feel more confident than ever that your email strategy is as optimized as possible. Higher Logic will also be holding a free webinar Wednesday, February 23 at 2pm EST to discuss our results and how you can use them. We hope you’ll join us!  

David Jovel

David Jovel is a Product Manager at Higher Logic focused on Communications. He spent most of his career working with Associations in the SaaS space with the Communications and Marketing Automation platforms. At one point he even helped develop the product. Now he spends his time working closely with customers to help guide and build the Higher Logic Communications platform.