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Benchmarking Email and InMail Open Rates

Email engagement and social messaging on sites like LinkedIn continue to be a recruiters tool of choice in terms for direct candidate outreach. Platforms like LinkedIn have made it easy to search and connect, making connecting in a personal or a unique way even more important. Connected individuals have choices and look to grow their personal network for future gain.

Whether you know what your current success rates are, or if you’re just starting to make sense of those key performance indicators, this post will outline how to measure open rates and response rates of your email and other messages.

Measuring Email and LinkedIn InMail Open Rates

Your open rate is one of the most important performance metrics that you should pay close attention to. In order to fully optimize your success, you or your team should also track five key email marketing metrics:

  1. How many people open your emails
  2. How many people click on a link in your emails
  3. How many people unsubscribe
  4. How many people complain (mark your email as spam)
  5. How many people forward your emails

Measuring all of these things and working to keep them at healthy levels is necessary for any effective recruitment marketing email campaign. But you can’t be successful unless your emails are opened in the first place, so we’ll focus on that specific metric here.

If you are using any top email provider, you’ll have reporting that calculates your email open rates. But for your information, your email open rate is calculated by dividing the number of unique opens by the amount of emails sent, minus the number of bounces:

Open Rate = Unique Opens / (Number of Emails Sent – Bounces)

 So out of the people who received your email, your open rate is the percentage of people who opened that email.

Benchmarking Industry Recruiting and Staffing Open Rates

In order to improve your email open rates, you first need to understand how your industry performs on the average. According to a 2018 Hubspot survey of 25 million emails across 28 industries, the overall average open rate across all industries is 32%. In another 2018 survey by Mailchimp, Recruitment and Staffing emails have an average open rate of 19.33%.

How do your campaigns stack up? Once you’ve benchmarked your open rates, you can set a goal for increasing performance and engagement, starting with CTRs, or click through rates. This number includes users who opened your email and clicked on something within the email. Having this information allows you to A/B test things like subject lines, email content and design, as well as personalization.

Some data on click through rates: The Mailchimp survey cited above reports that Recruiting and Staffing emails have a click through rate (CTR) of just 1.81%. However, there are ways to improve this average. Emails that included the first name of the recipient in their subject line had higher click through rates than emails that did not. Emails that display incorrectly on mobile may be deleted within three seconds (Campaign Monitor, 2018).

With regards to open/delivery analytics for LinkedIn InMail, it’s extremely difficult to set goals because there is no visibility to InMail open and delivery rates. This prevents you from identifying KPIs and improving performance. We love LinkedIn for the information we can get about candidates, but tend to take it off platform for personalized candidate outreach.

What Does This Really Mean?

Increasing your open rate is important and not impossible. Yes, personalized outreach does require more time spent customizing your message and researching the very targeted candidate list you want to engage. However, it’s important to understand that what works for one industry won’t necessarily work for another. In sales, the “spray and pray” method of email outreach is popular. The mentality that the more emails you send, the more likely you are to get a bite might work for sales, but personal candidate email outreach must be deliberate and targeted.

Here’s why: Sending large volumes of messages to candidate prospects that are reported as suspicious or spam, can impact your overall email performance for not just a single recruiter but the larger organization who can be blacklisted. A blacklist occurs when is a list of servers or domains that a blacklist operator has found to send spam. Being placed on the blacklist can disrupt the entire web domain’s mail service resulting in some fancy footwork for the blacklist to be removed and email operational.

LinkedIn has its own version of a blacklist in the form of InMail thresholds. LinkedIn Recruiter users who have less 19% open rate of InMail over a period of a month can be suspended from use of the service due to message quality as well as the number of messages sent.

Even LinkedIn has conceded that InMail does not perform well and has recently integrated Connectifier with LinkedIn Recruiter Corporate package to include 150 Connectifier credits for personal emails. In announcing the Connectifier addition to the Recruiter Corporate package, LinkedIn stated: Recruiters typically see up to 50% higher response rates when using both LinkedIn InMail and emails from Connectifier. Whether you have candidate emails from your ATS or other sources, or use the Connectifier addition, direct emails from you to a candidate is going to be the best return for your efforts.