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Email click-to-open rates continued to climb in Q3, and as such while slightly fewer subscribers opened emails those who did were more engaged than in previous quarters. That’s according to the latest quarterly email benchmark report [download page] from Yes Marketing, which also finds a substantial gain in email click-to-open (CTO) rates on mobile devices.

For the quarter the mobile CTO rate averaged 14%, a hefty 18.1% year-over-year increase (from 11.2%) and a similar 19% quarter-over-quarter jump (from 11.8%). In so doing, mobile’s CTO rate actually far exceeded the equivalent figure on desktops (10.7%), the apparent continuation of a trend that comes after finally closing the gap with desktop last year.

Additionally, although average order values remained considerably lower on mobile devices than on desktops, the former is growing faster, leading the analysts to note that this “may indicate the experience gap between publishing on mobile vs. desktop is finally shrinking.”

Looking at various sectors represented in the analysis, the Insurance industry had a particularly high average mobile CTO rate, with the Entertainment and Publishing sectors also well above average. Technology, by contrast, had a mobile CTO rate well below the average and also declining over the past couple of quarters.

The Financial Services vertical, for its part, had the strongest open rate of the various sectors identified, but lagged in click-to-open rate.

Marketers May Have An Engagement Issue on Their Hands

Although the rise in mobile click-to-open rates is an encouraging sign, Yes Marketing’s report reveals a couple of developments worth keeping an eye on.

One of those is a drop in the proportion of new subscribers in marketers’ databases: just 3% of subscribers in databases had opted in during the previous 90 days, down from 4.3% a year earlier. This indicates that marketers may be struggling to drive new subscriber opt-ins.

The other result observed in Q3 was a decline in the proportion of active subscribers in marketers’ databases. Only 7.5% had opened or clicked in the previous 90 days, per Yes Marketing’s analysis, down from 9% the previous quarter and 8% during the year-earlier period. This suggests that marketers are having trouble keeping subscribers engaged.

Lack of engagement can lead to unsubscribes, and recent data from Return Path finds that churn can be high, particularly within a subscriber’s first year on a list. In fact, on average, about 1 in 3 subscribers (34%) to email lists are lost within the first 30 days, and close to half (44%) within the first year.

Taken in tandem, these findings demonstrate that marketers could take some time to focus on keeping email subscribers engaged, potentially through onboarding campaigns and also via seasonally themed campaigns, which Yes Marketing found to have performed well in past quarters.

About the Data: The results are based on analysis of more than 6 billion emails sent in Q3 through Yes Marketing’s cross-channel communication platform Yesmail360i.

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