Everyone in the e-mail business wants to know how their metrics compare to industry norms — and now they can find out.

Harte-Hanks, and its e-mail subsidiary Postfuture, compared the aggregate e-mail metrics of 4,300 business and consumer e-mail campaigns. The analysis included both marketing and transaction e-mails.

Among all sectors for all purposes of e-mail combined, the average delivery rate was 91.2% — with an average open rate of 78.8%, click-through rate of 18.4% and opt-out rate of 0.4% of all e-mail delivered.

"These data help provide e-mail marketers with up-to-date benchmarking information," said Richard Merrick of Postfuture. "Particularly as we look at individual industries, we see which vertical markets are doing the best to pique the interest of e-mail recipients — be they consumers or business persons."

Of the 13 industry categories covered, restaurants enjoyed the best open rates (167.7%; open rates exceeding 100% occur by way of pass-alongs and re-opened e-mail) as well as the best click-through rates (57.5%). Retail had the lowest open rate (35.3%), while the automotive sector had the lowest click-through rate (5.7%).

Looking at differences between business and consumer markets, Postfuture found that e-mail sent to consumers did the best, with click-through rates of 19.9% and open rates of 78.9%, while business-to-business e-mail had click-through and open rates of 11.2% and 67.7%, respectively.

In one interesting finding, behavioral targeting raised metrics significantly. "One large retailer achieved a 74.2% open rate, 24.1% click-through rate and 0.1% opt-out rate, just by synchronizing e-mail with in-store activity," said Merrick. "Using transactional e-mail to make dynamic product recommendations produce, on average, a 148.8% open rate and a 20.4% click-through rate."

More here.