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On average, 56% of new subscribers remain on program emails lists after their first twelve months, meaning that close to half churn within the first year of being on a list, according to a recent study on subscriber engagement [download page] from Return Path.

The headline figure hides a great deal of variance in the market; while the top 10% of companies boast an 84% retention rate, the bottom 10% retain only around a quarter (26%) of their subscribers in the same time frame.

Furthermore, the research highlights the importance of engaging customers in the first month. On average, just over a third (34%) of subscribers to program email lists are lost within the first 30 days. That makes Welcome campaigns even more critical, and research has demonstrated that these campaigns are popular with marketers and generate above-average response rates.

Top Senders Retain 90% Of Subscribers in The First Month

The top 10% of companies studied retain far more of those opted-in to their programs for the first critical month, with only one in ten of their subscribers churning during that time. They also maintain a high average read rate, with 61% of their emails being read during this early and critical period.

Depending on tactics deployed, email success can vary wildly – for example, different types of triggered email can be more than twice as effective as others.

Most Marketers Deal With Bad Email Addresses

The study reveals that overall, the email addresses senders have on their lists are of poor quality. On average, just 47% of emails on subscriber lists are classed as actively used, and only 49% ever read at least one email they have signed up to.

For leading email senders, the picture isn’t much better – just 53% of their email subscribers have an active email address, although they do perform better in getting at least one email read, as 71% of their subscriber base has done so.

Top Performers Engage Almost Half Their List For A Year

Customer engagement has proven to be a major factor in customer retention. This is why over half of marketers are making improving engagement a top email priority.

In a similar trend to the retention statistics, there is a wide gap between the top performing companies and the bottom when it comes to driving engagement with their subscribers. For the top tenth, almost half (48%) of subscribers remained engaged with emails over the first twelve months with the brand, while the complaint rate with these subscribers was 0%. On the other side of the spectrum, the bottom tenth had only 13% of their list as engaged, with a complaint rate of 2%.

On average, 31% of email subscribers were engaged across the companies studied, with a complaint rate of 2%.

The full report from Return Path can be downloaded here.

About the Data: This report analyzed 1,387 brands across all verticals using Return Path’s Consumer Network data for Microsoft, AOL, Gmail, and Yahoo subscribers between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2018. This analysis maps the lifecycle from the initial email received from the brand through the first 12 months of subscription.

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