Brands aren’t letting up in their email activity, finds the latest quarterly email benchmark report [download page] from Experian Marketing Services, which details a 11.2% year-over-year increase in brands’ email volume during Q4. That’s the fourth consecutive quarter of double-digit increases, with each quarter also registering an uptick in open rates, though that increase was marginal at best this past quarter. It’s not surprising to see increased email activity during the holiday season, of course, but the 11.2% increase is a year-over-year one, and comes after Q4 2012’s own year-over-year increase in volume of 5.2%.
Why might brands be continuing to up their volume of emails? Maybe because it works? Various pieces of research suggest that while consumers cite email frequency as the leading culprit for their unsubscribes, another email or two isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Here are a few such pieces of research:
- A study from Alchemy Worx determined that there could be a net positive effect from sending an extra email a month to subscribers;
- Yesmail reports indicate that marketers emailing between 4-6 times a week have the highest proportion of active subscribers, and that that proportion tends to increase alongside the number of weekly messages sent; while
- Mailchimp data (admittedly fairly old at this point) cited by Hubspot has suggested that there actually is no correlation between sending frequency and unsubscribe rates.
That doesn’t make the conclusions definitive – but they’re intriguing results nonetheless. Caution: individual results may vary!
Returning to the Experian study, the results indicate that:
- Email volume was up by 23% quarter-over-quarter;
- Total open rate for Q4 2013 was 24%, a slight improvement from 23.6% the prior year;
- Unique open rate was mostly flat, inching up from 16.3% to 16.4%;
- Click-to-open rate dropped, though, from 14.4% to 12.5%;
- Total click rate (-0.6% points to 2.9%) and unique click rate (-0.4% points to 2.1%) both declined;
- Transaction-to-click (4.6%) and transaction rate (0.08%) were both down;
- Revenue per email ($0.10) fell by 4 cents on average; and
- Average order value ($179.33) was mostly flat, while bounce rates (2.2%), and unsubscribe rates (0.12%) slightly improved.
The Q4 report also spotlights coupon emails, noting that there was a 50% year-over-year increase in the number of campaigns using them. Based on an analysis of 50 brands using coupons in their email campaigns during October and November, Experian determined that compared to other promotional mailings, coupon emails had:
- 14% higher unique open rates;
- 34% higher unique click rates;
- 27% higher transaction rates; and
- 48% higher revenue per email ($0.10 vs. $0.07).
The study found that the coupons offered were most commonly able to redeemed in-store (80%), while many also offered online redemption (70%) and some 21% encouraged consumers to show them on their mobile devices in-store. Those offering in-store only redemption had the highest unique click rate (3.3%), closely followed by those that could be redeemed in-store or online (2.7%), with online-only coupons (1.8%) trailing.