Email volume increased by 11.6% year-over-year in Q1, following a 5.4% year-over-year increase in Q4, details Experian Marketing Services in its Q1 Email Benchmark Study [download page]. Multi-channel retailers increased their email volume the most rapidly, by 20.2%, as 70% of brands sent more emails compared to the prior year. Travel brands saw the next-highest growth, of 113.6%, although only half of the brands increased mailings.
Consumers might be noticing the uptick in mailings: according to a recent Ask Your Target Market (AYTM) survey, 52% of respondents claim that most (44%) or all (8%) of their emails come from businesses and brands rather than individuals.
Still, email volume was down by 15% quarter-over-quarter in Q1, per the Experian report, which is expected following the holiday season. Each of the 7 verticals tracked decreased their email volume quarter-over-quarter, with catalogers (-32%), consumer products and services (-15%) and multi-channel retailers (-15%) seeing the biggest declines.
The report’s email performance analysis reveals mixed – though generally positive – results:
Total open rate for Q1 2013 was 24.4%, an improvement from 22.2% the prior year;
Unique open rate also improved, from 15.5% to 17%;
Click-to-open rate dropped, though, from 16.3% to 14.7%;
Total click rate (+0.1% points to 3.9%) and unique click rate (3.7%) were relatively flat;
Transaction-to-click (4.5%) and transaction rate (0.09%) were both down;
Revenue per email ($0.12) was steady; and
Average order value, bounce rates, and unsubscribe rates all improved.
The report also takes a look at e-receipts, sent as an alternative to typical paper receipts issued at the point of sale. Compared to bulk emails, the study reveals that e-receipts have unique open rates that are twice as high (33.7% vs. 16.2%), but unique click rates that are significantly lower (0.9% vs. 2.9%). Interestingly, transaction rates on e-receipts were slightly higher than for bulk emails, which the researchers suggest demonstrates “good potential to generate repeat purchases.” They also note that “enhanced e-receipts” – which go beyond the basic digital version of a paper receipt and provide various selling opportunities through the use of shop online links, promotional images, and others – generate far higher click and transaction rates, as well as a large increase in revenue per email.