Email Open, Click Rates Seen Lowest During Work Hours

mailermailer-email-click-rates-by-time-scheduled-in-2011-july2012.pngEmail messages scheduled as the work day begins and progresses see a marked decline in click rates, with rates not picking up again until the afternoon, before peaking overnight, finds MailerMailer in a July 2012 report covering more than 1.2 billion opt-in email newsletters sent in 2011. In H2, average click rates began declining at 6 AM (local US EST) and were lowest at 12 PM (1.3%), but increased steadily to 2.4% at 4 PM, reaching a peak of 5.8% at 12 AM. In H1, while the pattern was similar, click rates were highest overnight, hitting a high of 7.4% at 3 AM.

Email open rates also were found to decline during the workday, before picking up in the afternoon and hitting highs of 18-19% at midnight. This contrasts with March 2012 findings from an Informz study of its association clients’ email performance in 2011, which suggested that email open rates were best in the morning, while click rates performed best in the late afternoon. It is worth noting that the email client samples were obviously different, but also that both the open rates and click rates found in the Informz study were significantly higher than in the MailerMailer study (the former with open rate highs of 39.2% and click rate highs of 21%).

Open Rates Higher at Beginning of Week; Clicks More Mixed

Data from MailerMailer’s “Email Marketing Metrics Report” indicates that open rates in H1 were highest on Monday (11.6%) and Tuesday (11.5%), and lowest on Saturday (9.5%), while in H2, open rates were highest on Sunday (13.8%), Tuesday (12.8%), and Monday (12.7%), while also lowest on Saturday (10.8%).

Click rates were highest on Sunday in both H1 (3.5%) and H2 (6.7%), though there was no clear downward trend as the week went on. In H1, Tuesdays and Thursdays (both at 2.7%) saw the next-highest click rates, while in H2, Thursdays (4%) saw the next-highest.

Overall, open rates averaged 12.3% in H1 and 10.8% in H2, while click rates averaged 3.5% in H1 and 2.5% in H2. Both metrics were up year-over-year in H1, and down in H2.

A Silverpop study [pdf] also released in July found higher overall open rates. According to that report, which measured messages sent by 1,124 brands from 20 countries throughout 2011 and Q1 2012, the mean open rate was 20.1% (19.9% in the US), while the median open rate was 15% (14.7% in the US). The top quartile saw an average open rate of 43.7% (44.1% in the US), compared to the bottom quartile’s average rate of 8% (7.8% in the US).

Average click rates in the Silverpop study were also higher: the mean click rate was 5.2% (5.4% in the US), while the median rate was 2.3% (same in the US). The top quartile boasted an average click rate of 16.6% (18.1% in the US), while the bottom quartile’s rate was a pedestrian 0.7% (same in the US).

Personalization Seen Having a Negative Effect

Further details from the MailerMailer report indicates that personalizing emails may have a negative effect on open and click rates. While emails that were not personalized saw an average open rate of 11.5%, those with the subject line only personalized saw an average open rate of only 5.2%, while those with both subject line and message personalized saw an average rate of 3.2%. The only lift was found in emails where only the message was personalized – to 12.7%.

In terms of click rates, emails with only the message personalized (2.5%), only the subject line personalized (1.1%), and both the subject line and message personalized (0.5%) all saw lower average rates than for emails that were not personalized (3%).

Other Findings:

  • According to the MailerMailer report, the banking (16.8%), non-profit (16.1%), consulting (15.9%), and small business (15.9%) sectors had the highest open rates in 2011, while the medical (6.5%), media (7.5%), and education (8.2%) verticals had the lowest. The Silverpop study found computer software (24.7%), consumer services (22.6%), financial services (22.6%), and non-profits (21.2%) to have the highest average open rate, with education (15%) and healthcare (15.2%) having the lowest. Both travel and leisure (16.2%) and retail (17.1%) also saw among the lowest average open rates.
  • The MailerMailer report found the consulting (4.5%), consumer (4.3%), and transportation and wholesale (3.8%) sectors to have the highest click rates, with restaurant (0.6%), government (0.7%), and medical (0.8%) having the lowest. According to Silverpop, media and publishing (8.9%), computer software (8.6%), consumer services (5.7%), and non-profits (5.4%) had the highest average click rates, while travel and leisure (2.3%) and real estate and construction (2.9%) occupied the other end of the spectrum. Retail emails saw an average click rate of 3.1%.
  • The MailerMailer report found significant differences in the leading industries for both click and open rates when segregating the results by list size.
  • Data from the MailerMailer study also reveals that customers that sent the most frequent amount of messages – at least a few times a week – saw the lowest bounce rates (0.4%), while those mailing less than once a month saw the highest (4.4%). The average bounce rate for Silverpop clients was 2.1% (2.2% in the US).
  • According to MailerMailer, open rates were highest for emails with subject lines of 4-15 characters (15.2%), and lowest for emails with subject lines of more than 50 characters (10.4%). This trend for shorter subject lines to get the highest open rates was also observed by Informz (see link above). However, MailerMailer found a normal distribution for click rates when segregated by subject line length.
  • MailerMailer also saw click rates increasing alongside the number of links included, to a high of 4.9% for those with more than 20 links.
  • The Silverpop study reveals an average of 1.79 opens by opener, and 1.56 clicks by clicker.
  • The mean click-to-open rate (CTOR) – per Silverpop – was 19.3% (the median was 16.3%). Average CTOR was highest for media and publishing (24.2%), consumer services (20.5%), and non-profits (20.1%), with retail at 18.1%.
  • The average unsubscribe rate was 0.31% (0.27% in the US), while the media rate was 0.13% (same in the US).
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