There’s never been a better time to be a creator.
2021 is full of opportunities for budding podcasters, artists, freelancers, online coaches, musicians, and makers—and email marketing is the best way to grow your audience and turn your vision into reality.
But here’s the problem: most email marketing advice is aimed at brands with massive audiences. It’s difficult to sift through piles of blog posts to find the really useful information to help you grow your audience and influence.
Here’s the good news: we’ve done it for you.
To help you reach more subscribers and grow your online business faster, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of the most useful (and the most up-to-date) email marketing statistics for 2021.
Whether you’re building an audience for the first time or you’re looking to double down on your list growth, keep these statistics in mind as you’re planning your email marketing strategies for 2021 and beyond. We’ll make sure we keep everything up-to-date, so you’ll always have the answers you’re looking for.
So without further ado: here’s the ultimate list of email marketing statistics for creators in 2021!
Chapter #1: General email marketing statistics for creators
Even 50 years after the first email was delivered, email marketing is the best way for creators like you to share what you love, connect with your followers, and grow your online business. But how many people around the world use email in 2021—and how can you best reach them? This list of general email marketing stats has the answers you’re looking for.
Statista predicts that over 4.1 billion people will use email in 2021.
Statista predicts that the number of global email users will exceed 4 billion for the second year running, with 4.15 billion people using email around the world in 2021 (Statista/Radicati 2020). That’s a solid increase of over 11% since 2017—a growth trend that’s expected to continue, with nearly 4.5 billion people expected to use email in 2024.
What does this mean for creators? Email marketing is far from outdated—it’s an integral part of daily online life. Our creators come from across the globe, so there’s a ton of growth potential for creators of all kinds to grow an audience—no matter which country you’re from.
3.7 million emails will be sent every second in 2021
According to Statista, 319.6 billion emails will be sent every day in 2021 (Statista/Radicati 2020). That’s nearly 3.7 million emails every second! And the number of emails sent each day is only going to increase—in only three years, that number will grow another 14%.
What does this mean for creators? Standing out from the noise with your marketing is more important than ever. Knowing your audience, offering something of value, and optimizing your emails are just a few of the email marketing best practices you should be focusing on in 2021.
People will spend upwards of 5 hours spent on email each day
Knowledge workers in the U.S. spend upwards of five hours a day checking and responding to emails in 2021—three hours on work emails, and two hours on personal emails (Adobe 2019).
The good news? Both of these numbers have been going down for the past few years. Work email use dropped from 256 minutes per day in 2016 to 209 minutes in 2019, and personal email use saw a similar drop from 209 minutes per day in 2016 to 143 minutes in 2019. Millennials are also more protective of their time—half of respondents said they wait until they get to work each day to check their work emails.
What does this mean for creators? While most people are still catching up on their emails every day, younger audiences might wait a little longer before reading your emails. If your primary audience trends younger, don’t be alarmed if you’ve been seeing fewer people opening your emails as soon as you hit Send.
Bonus general email marketing statistics
- Consumers believe they receive 54.9 emails on average per week to their personal inboxes, down from 73.3 in 2017 (DMA 2020).
- 73% of millennials prefer communications from businesses to come via email (Adestra 2016).
- Four out of five marketers say they’d rather give up social media than email marketing (Litmus 2020).
Chapter #2: Subject lines and open rates
How many emails are sitting unopened in your inbox right now? Zero? Maybe a dozen? Over a hundred? If you’re like me, you have 5,097 unread emails waiting. Y’know, give or take…
It’s not uncommon to be overwhelmed with email these days. As a creator, getting your emails opened means writing subject lines that are simple, punchy, and valuable. Here are the most important email marketing stats around subject lines and open rates, along with a few tips for getting your emails opened.
The average open rate for marketing emails is 20%
According to the Data & Marketing Association, the average open rate for all marketing emails is 20% (DMA 2019).
What does this mean for creators? ConvertKit creators often ask how their open rates stack up to others. The truth is, open rates aren’t always reliable, and they can vary greatly depending on your industry and audience type (B2B vs. freemail addresses, for example).
We were curious to compare ConvertKit’s internal delivery rate to this benchmark, and were delighted to discover that the average open rate across all emails sent by ConvertKit in September of 2020 was 29% (ConvertKit Sept. 2020 Deliverability Report).
It’s great to see creators of all types consistently beating industry averages for open rates!
20% of emails are opened within the first hour of being sent
With the amount of time people spend on emails each day, it’s no surprise most marketing emails are first opened soon after being sent. GetResponse found that 20.41% of marketing emails are opened within the first hour, with more than 50% of email opens occurring within six hours of being delivered (GetResponse 2019).
What does this mean for creators? Most emails you send will see a big spike in opens over the first few hours before gradually tapering off over time. Aim to schedule your emails for times when your audience is most likely to be online, and keep track of the most important email marketing metrics to ensure your emails are getting opened!
The best time to deliver emails is 10am local time
According to research from Litmus, the most popular time for reading emails is around 10am local time. Almost 7% of all opens happen between 10am and 11am, and nearly one-quarter of all opens are between 9am and noon local time (Litmus 2020).
What does this mean for creators? Instead of delivering your emails as soon as you write them, schedule your broadcast emails in advance. That way, you’ll be sure to catch your audience when they’re most likely to be online and in their inbox. Make a mistake with your email copy or need to choose a different date and time? No problem: you can easily update emails up until the moment they’re sent.
Tuesday is the best day of the week to send emails
Sending over a billion emails each month means we’ve collected some pretty convincing stats around which days are best for sending emails. Looking at open rates across all emails sent by ConvertKit creators in September of 2020, Tuesdays and Wednesdays see the highest open rates (ConvertKit 2020), meaning they’re solid days to send emails, with Sunday following close behind.
That tells us which days subscribers open the most emails, but let’s see if that matches up with the days creators are sending emails. Over the same time period in September of 2020, ConvertKit users sent the most emails on Tuesdays, with Wednesdays following in close second (ConvertKit 2020).
What does this mean for creators? If you’re thinking about starting a weekly email newsletter (either free or paid), you should consider sending on Tuesday mornings. Interestingly, open rates on the weekend were nearly as high as on weekdays, while email volume is roughly half of the busiest day. Sending emails on the weekend is a great opportunity for creators looking to break through the noise and grow their newsletter!
Subject lines with 7 words outperformed all other lengths
How long should your subject lines be to maximize open and click rates? Well, Marketo decided to find out. They analyzed more than 200 million emails, looking at how the number of words in a subject line affected open and click rates. They discovered that subject lines with seven words consistently outperformed other lengths—in fact, adding just one more word dropped engagement by nearly half! (Marketo 2018)
What does this mean for creators? While the data shows you should probably avoid going crazy writing looooooong subject lines, take it with a grain of salt. The best subject lines depend heavily on your audience and the types of content you’re sending. We recommend A/B testing subject lines of different lengths with each campaign to learn what works best for your subscribers.
Subject lines with emojis are opened less often than those that include emojis
One glance at the ever-growing list of emails in your inbox and you’ll doubtlessly see a handful of emails with emojis in their subject lines. Marketers often get a notion that bright and colorful emojis will help their emails stand out in a crowded inbox—but they’d be wrong.
SearchEngineJournal analyzed nearly 4 million emails sent in June and July of 2020, testing three different variations that included an emoji at the front of the subject line, at the end, and no emojis at all.
Surprisingly, they discovered that subject lines without emojis had an average open rate of 52.94%, whereas those that included emojis were only opened 47.06% of the time (SearchEngineJournal 2020).
On the flipside, emails that included emojis in the subject lines saw higher click-through rates (and higher unsubscribes).
What does this mean for creators? Use emojis with caution. While SearchEngineJournal’s testing wasn’t comprehensive (and we can’t offer our own data to back up their findings), emojis in subject lines can create negative sentiment toward your brand. Instead of relying on emojis to grab your subscribers’ attention, check out our list of 7 newsletter subject lines used by the pros when writing your next campaign.
Bonus open rate email marketing statistics
- The most important factor in opening an email is ‘Recognising the brand’ (55%) and ‘The subject line’ (48%) (DMA 2020).
- Emails with personalized subjects are 50% more likely to be opened (Litmus 2020).
Chapter #3: Engagement and click rates
Opening your emails is one thing—but getting your subscribers to take action isn’t easy. Whether you’re selling digital products or promoting your freelancing or coaching services, every email you send should be designed to encourage your audience to respond or click through to your links. These facts and figures around email engagement and click rates will teach you everything you need to create emails that your audience adores.
The average click rate across all emails is 2.4%
According to the Digital Marketing Association’s Email Benchmarking Report for 2020, the average click rate for all emails is 2.4%—a slight increase over previous years (DMA 2020).
Our internal email data backs this up—the average click rate across all ConvertKit emails in September 2020 was 2.6%. In contrast to DMA’s findings, ConvertKit’s internal data shows a gradual decline in open rates over the past few years:
What does this mean for creators? These numbers give a good benchmark to compare your click rates and look for improvement opportunities. But remember, these are just averages: click rates can vary dramatically depending on your chosen niche, your audience’s engagement level, and what you’re selling.
While click rates are important, make sure you’re looking beyond this metric to understand the value of email marketing for your brand.
Automated emails perform better than broadcast emails
One of the biggest benefits for creators choosing to grow their audience via email is the ability to automate much of their marketing. A well-crafted email automation sequence helps you send targeted content to the people in your audience at the right time, so you can stay focused on what matters most: growing your online business.
While newsletters and one-off broadcasts still bring results, automated emails bring the best results because triggered emails tend to be more targeted and personalized. Looking at ConvertKit data from March through October of 2020, broadcast emails saw an average open rate of 18.5%, whereas automated sequence emails saw an average open rate of 27.7%.
Welcome (or incentive) emails perform even better – the average open rate for welcome emails sent after signing up on a ConvertKit landing page was 53.3%, and welcome emails from embedded signup forms saw a whopping 65.8% open rate.
What does this mean for creators? Your welcome emails are some of the most important emails you can send – it pays to make the most of them! Since subscribers are expecting them, welcome and incentive emails are opened nearly 3x as often as regular broadcast emails. Best of all, they’re super easy to set up—check out a few ways you can use your welcome email sequence to onboard new subscribers.
39.9% percentage of users open emails on their phones
Mobile devices continue to be the most popular environment for reading emails. In 2020, 39.9% of emails were opened on mobile devices, closely followed by webmail (39.3%) then desktop far behind (19.3%) (Litmus 2020).
What does this mean for creators? Simple: make sure your emails look great on phones and tablets! ConvertKit’s email and landing page templates are fit for every device, so you can be sure your content looks great no matter how your subscribers check their inbox.
Bonus engagement and click rate email marketing statistics
- Interactive content generates 200% more conversions than passive content (Kapost 2019).
Chapter #4: Email volume and list growth
Every creator wants to know: How does my email list stack up against other creators?
At ConvertKit we work with thousands of creators across every niche and industry, giving us unique insights into realistic goals that creators should be hitting with their email list growth. Check out our data on email marketing volume and list growth for creators, and see where your list lies.
ConvertKit sent 1,331,275,741 in October 2020
ConvertKit creators send over one billion emails every month. Yep, that’s billion with a B. 1,331,275,741, to be precise, according to our October 2020 Email Deliverability Report. That’s a 37% increase on the same period one year prior, where we sent just over 970 million emails.
I’ll put it this way: If you printed all those emails (assuming one email per sheet of paper), it would make a stack 84 miles high (and you’d use up nearly 4 million ink cartridges)!
What does this mean for creators? Looking at internal data from September 2020, the average number of emails sent by each ConvertKit user over the month was 6,300. Obviously larger accounts send far more emails than smaller ones, so averaging this number by list size, we end up with 3.5 emails sent per account per subscriber. In other words, the average ConvertKit creator should be sending somewhere between three and four emails per month to each subscriber.
While too many emails can definitely turn off subscribers, if you aren’t emailing your subscribers at least once a week, there’s plenty of room to send more emails without bothering your audience!
The average ConvertKit creator list size is 1,811 subscribers
If you’re looking at your favorite creators and wondering how they attract thousands of subscribers while you only have a handful, fear not. The average ConvertKit creator has just over 1,800 subscribers on their email list—but the majority of accounts have less than 100 subscribers. In fact, if you have over 250 subscribers on your list, you’re already in the top 10% of creators!
What does this mean for creators? It’s easy to be envious of creators further ahead in their journey—but small lists have their advantages too. You can be more personal with your subscribers without fear of judgment, and you can test new ideas quickly.
It’s best to concentrate on how you can grow your list today, no matter how large or small—check out our tips for growing your email list for free in 2021!
ConvertKit creators average 84 new subscribers per account per month
Across all accounts, ConvertKit saw 16.2 million new subscribers join our creators’ diverse audiences in September 2020. Dividing by the total number of active accounts, that comes out to an average of 84 new subscribers per account per month.
What does this mean for creators? Don’t be disheartened if growth isn’t as fast as you would like, especially when you’re just starting out! 84 subscribers per month would be peanuts for an experienced creator, but it might be a huge boon for someone who’s just starting to grow their list.
Instead of only looking at the number of subscribers, it’s best to look at the number of new subscribers averaged against your existing list size. Regardless of how many subscribers you have, aim for one new subscriber per month for every 20 subscribers on your list—that’s a good benchmark that works for accounts both large and small.
ConvertKit creators average a .029% unsubscribe rate
A lot of new creators I talk to are afraid of people unsubscribing from their lists—but unsubscribes are a perfectly reasonable part of email marketing.
Looking at ConvertKit data from September of 2020, out of over 1.2 billion emails sent, there were just over 3.5 million people who unsubscribed. That’s an average unsubscribe rate of only 0.29%.
What does this mean for creators? Especially for creators with small lists, anywhere up to about a 1% unsubscribe rate is to be expected. That’s actually much lower than most brands, where a 2-3% unsubscribe rate each month is more common (DMA 2020).
You can track your unsubscribe rates (along with six other important email marketing metrics) in your ConvertKit dashboard. If your unsub rates are consistently above 1%, you might want to reconsider whether your emails are reaching the right audience, or how you can deliver more value with the emails you send.
Bonus email volume and list growth statistics
- 35% of marketers are sending 3-5 emails per week to their customers (HubSpot 2020).
Chapter #5: Segmentation and personalization
Email segmentation and personalization are two tactics that work wonders for creators looking to build their audience. Together, they let you take an otherwise dry and generic marketing message, and turn it into a highly targeted email that reaches each subscriber at exactly the right moment, with a message they can’t help but read.
While the opportunities for larger brands to segment and personalize their emails are endless, creators like you can still get much of the benefit from a few simple tweaks. Check out these data points on email segmentation and personalization, and learn how you can make the most of your email marketing.
Segmented and targeted emails deliver 58% of all email marketing revenue
Broadcast emails like newsletters can be an important piece of your email marketing strategy, but when it comes to sales, the more targeted the better. According to data from the Digital Marketing Association, segmented and targeted emails generate 58% of all revenue (DMA 2015).
What does this mean for creators? Segmenting your email list—putting subscribers in different buckets and speaking to each of those groups directly—is among the most powerful ways to improve your open and click rates and maximize conversions. Emailing just the people who have shown direct interest is not just a smart business move, it makes you look like a real human on the other side of the computer screen too!
82% of brands perform basic segmentation
The good news: most brands are already doing some segmentation on their lists. A study by Econsultancy and Adestra found 82% of respondents are performing basic segmentation on their lists, using obvious characteristics like gender or geography, suggesting it’s common practice among larger brands (Econsultancy 2019). Also good news: a further 12% indicated that they were planning to do so in the near future.
However, only 35% of respondents had used more advanced segmentation based on more in-depth factors like browsing behavior or past email responses.
What does this mean for creators? ConvertKit makes it easy for new creators to get started segmenting their lists. A few ideas:
- In your welcome email, ask subscribers what their main struggle is by offering 3-5 different trigger links. When readers respond by clicking one of the links, you can tag subscribers with that pain point for targeting in future email campaigns.
- Each time a subscriber buys a product through ConvertKit Commerce, they’re tagged automatically with the name of the product. Use a filter on this tag to ensure you never send a pitch to someone who has already bought that product.
- Tag webinar attendees with a “webinar” tag to add them to an upsell sequence that teaches them your webinar topic in greater depth, and ends with a hard pitch for one of your products.
The opportunities are endless!
Only 11% of marketing emails are sent from a personal name
This one genuinely surprised me: contrary to popular belief, most people don’t open emails because of the subject line: they open them because they recognize the sender name. In fact, SuperOffice found that 64% of subscribers open an email based on who it’s from, while only 47% open emails based on the subject line (SuperOffice 2018).
Given that most email apps give sender name and subject line equal billing, it seems like an easy choice to send your emails from your personal name instead of your brand name. It’s surprising to see, then, that only 11% of emails are sent with a personal sender name instead of a company name (SuperOffice 2018).
What does this mean for creators? Your goal as a creator is to build a relationship with your audience—and that means getting personal. Nobody likes getting emails from faceless brands! Don’t send emails from your brand name—instead, choose your personal name, or a combination of the two (like “Nathan from ConvertKit”).
Another bonus of sending from a personal name: you can use your personal email address as the reply-to address on your marketing emails, so subscribers can reply directly. ConvertKit even lets you change your sender name for each broadcast email you send. Nice!
Bonus segmentation and personalization statistics
- Message personalization is the #1 tactic used by email marketers to improve performance (HubSpot 2020).
- Only ¼ of email offers from brands are opened, mostly due to basic quality concerns, or because emails are sent too often (Adobe 2019).
- 83% of marketers say targeted personalization increases open rates, and 75% also report higher click-through rates from personalization (Adestra 2016).
- 72% of marketers personalize emails by adding subscriber’s names to their email subject lines, while only 38% personalize based on past interactions with their emails (Litmus 2020).
Chapter #6: Deliverability and spam
Nobody likes spam (unless it’s in a can). Sending messages people want and making sure your messages end up in your subscribers’ inbox instead of their spam folder is crucial to getting more from your email marketing.
Check out the most important facts and figures around email delivery and spam in 2021—and find out how you can maximize your deliverability.
28.5% of emails in 2019 were spam
Spam is still a huge part of global email volume—but the good news is the amount of spam has steadily been dropping in recent years. According to data from Statista, 28.5% of emails sent in 2019 were spam, down from 59.8% in 2016, and a massive drop from over 88% of emails a decade ago (Statista/Trustwave 2019).
What does this mean for creators? As spam filters have become more accurate, spam email has become far less profitable—hence the drop in volume over time. Still, staying out of your subscribers’ spam folders and heading straight to the inbox requires you to do one thing: be a human. Write like a human and not a robot, and treat their inbox as you’d want yours to be treated.
99% of emails sent by ConvertKit creators in October of 2020 were delivered
When emails are sent, they can either be delivered, or they can bounce. You can read more detail about delivery rates and improving deliverability of your emails right here, but to make a long story short, the more emails that reach your subscribers’ inboxes, the better.
It’s inevitable that some messages will bounce due to invalid addresses, full mailboxes, or other problems. But a high delivery rate indicates healthy deliverability for our creators—a system-wide delivery rate above 98% is considered very healthy.
ConvertKit's complaint rate in October 2020 was 0.008%
A complaint is when a subscriber marks a message as spam. An elevated complaint rate is a signal that the sender’s quality of mail isn’t good. We have a team dedicated to ensuring that the mail sent from ConvertKit is wanted by the recipients.
In the email industry, a complaint rate less than 0.1% is seen as healthy. ConvertKit’s complaint rate in October 2020 was 0.008%, which speaks to the high quality of mail sent by our customers and the healthy reputation of our infrastructure.
What does this mean for creators? The best way to avoid getting your emails flagged as spam is to provide value. Before sending an email, make sure you’re giving your subscribers value—whether that’s entertainment, education, or information. Make sure you aren’t just adding more noise to your subscribers’ inboxes!
Bonus deliverability and spam statistics
- Successful email programs are 27% more likely to remove chronically inactive subscribers from their active mailing lists (Litmus 2019).
Chapter #7: Measurement and ROI
Email marketing is much more effective for reaching your audience than social media or advertising—but it’s essential you track your success. Here we’ve collected the most recent stats around email marketing ROI—along with tips for measuring and optimizing your email marketing efforts.
Email marketing returns $35 for every $1 spent in 2020
I’ve seen plenty of different numbers thrown around for this statistic, but according to the most recent data I was able to find, email marketing returns an average of $35 for every $1 spent (DMA 2020). While this was actually a drop from 2019, the overall trend clearly remains positive. DMA also found that large businesses are more likely to see higher returns ($44) compared to small companies and independent creators ($30).
Email marketing returns $35 for every $1 spent in 2020. Image via DMA
What does this mean for creators? Your return on investment, or ROI, is incredibly important when you are creating your email marketing strategy. Since the investment of time and money is often involved with building and nurturing an email list, you’ll want to be aware of the ROI of your email marketing efforts.
When you calculate your email ROI, be sure to assign a number value to the time you spend creating and promoting email content along with the monetary investment of any other email marketing tools you use. This way, you’ll have a long-term view of how valuable your time and money investment in email marketing is. (We have an example here if you want to see how you can break this down even further.)
Email is nearly 40x more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined
Email is far from dead—it’s still far more effective than social media for reaching your audience. Email marketing is nearly 40x more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined (McKinsey 2014). When we ran the numbers on our internal data, they came out roughly the same—an email subscriber is worth roughly 27x a Twitter follower.
What does this mean for creators? Social followers are “drive-by” visitors—they’ll stop and pay attention for a short time, but you’re relying on them to remember you and come back. Email subscribers are better than social media followers—you can reach your audience anytime with targeted messages, and you’ll never lose your reach to fickle social media algorithm changes. If you already have an audience on social media, look for opportunities to turn your social media followers into email subscribers.
The average number of CTAs in an email campaign is 3.3
Your marketing emails need to prompt subscribers to take action—whether that’s to sign up for a webinar, buy a product, or inquire about your services. Calls-to-action, or CTAs, are the prompts you add to your emails to encourage users to take action. Every email should have at least one CTA—but is more always better? SuperOffice found that the average number of CTAs in an email campaign was 3.3 (SuperOffice 2018). Some email campaigns contained as many as 12!
What does this mean for creators? Including too many CTAs in your emails can actually turn off subscribers, making your emails feel pushy and making it unclear what action you want subscribers to take. Aim for one main CTA in each email, but try not to exceed 3. You can check out some call-to-action examples for your next email campaign right here, or read about how to choose the right colors for your CTA buttons.
Bonus measurement and ROI email marketing statistics
- The average percentage of marketing budgets spent on email marketing in 2020 is 18.9% (DMA 2020). That’s an increase from only 10.9% in 2018, showing marketers are realizing the value of email marketing
- Roughly 80% of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement over the past 12 months (HubSpot 2020).
- Birthday emails generate 3.42 times more revenue per message than a standard promotional email (Litmus 2020).
Email marketing: the best way to grow your audience in 2021
There’s never been a better time to be a creator. Whether you’re an author, maker, YouTuber, poet, painter, musician, podcaster, chef, designer, or teacher, 2021 is the perfect year to start sharing your ideas, connecting with your audience, and earning an independent income.
If the above email marketing statistics have you inspired to start your own creator journey, sign up for a free ConvertKit account today, create your first landing page, and start growing your audience. I can’t wait to see what you create!