Average Email Subscriber Gets 416 Commercial Messages Per Month

ReturnPath-Email-Subscriber-and-Sender-Stats-Aug2013Here’s one good reason why email marketers look closely at study data regarding topics such as timing and subject lines: the average subscriber receives 416 commercial emails per month, per new figures released by Return Path, leading the researcher to call the inbox a “battlefield.” While that monthly figure works out to less than 15 emails a day (which some might argue isn’t too many to sift through), the daily count is likely to be higher on traditional workdays, as weekends typically see a lower volume of activity.

The Return Path data comes after earlier survey results from BlueKangaroo found 43% of respondents reporting that more than half of the new emails in their inbox the week prior to the survey came from marketers (including daily deals, retail newsletters, and sales alerts). Return Path notes that the subscriber receiving the most messages gets an average of 115,547 emails per month. One wonders how many of those emails were opened. (None?)

So which categories are most responsible for all these emails? The top 10 by volume are:

  • Daily deals;
  • Social networking;
  • Dating;
  • Apparel;
  • Home;
  • Department store;
  • Kids and babies;
  • Music, movies and games;
  • Health and beauty; and
  • Entertainment.

Those categories see significantly different read rates, though. Health and beauty enjoys the highest read rate, of 27%, followed by apparel (24%), department stores (24%) and home (23%). Social networking (14%), dating (14%) and music, movies and games (16%) emails are the least likely to be read.

When taking into account other lower-volume verticals, financial service categories tend to have the highest read rates, led by insurance (38%), banking (36%) and credit cards (36%).

The study takes an interesting look at subscriber overlap in various verticals, in which a certain percentage of category subscribers get emails from two competing brands. In the retail category, for example, 33.7% of subscribers receive emails from Kohl’s and J.C. Penney. Kohl’s wins the battle among those subscribers, boasting a read rate 12.7% higher than J.C. Penney’s. In the restaurant category, there’s significant overlap (20% of category subscribers) between Pizza Hut and Papa John’s, with Pizza Hut getting the best of that battle, with a 40.7% higher read rate.

Finally, in the daily deal category (the most active by email volume), 14.6% of subscribers get emails from both Groupon and Google Offers. The winner? Groupon, with a 7.5% higher read rate among those overlapping subscribers.

About the Data: Return Path analyzed billions of messages sent to its panel of 3 million email users from May through June of 2013.