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Marketers enjoyed strong email response rates in Q1, perhaps as a result of tempered volume in the wake of the holiday period, according to Yes Lifecycle Marketing’s Q1 Email Benchmark Report 2018 [download page]. The report indicates that the average open rate was up by 5.8% quarter-over-quarter and the average unique click rate by 12.1% as the average number of emails sent per engaged subscriber dropped by 29.3%.

Triggered Campaigns Return Strong Results

Triggered emails have long been shown to generate above-average response rates, and Q1 was no different. The average open rate for triggered campaigns was almost twice as high as it was for non-triggered emails (25.1% vs. 14.2%), with the unique click rate almost three times higher (3.5% vs. 1.2%) and the click-to-open rate also considerably higher (14.1% vs. 8.8%).

The conversion rate for triggered emails (4.2%) also outperformed that of non-triggered emails (3.9%), per the report, which highlighted certain campaign types:

  • Activation campaigns: conversion rate of 5.1%, versus standard emails’ 3.9%;
  • Browse Abandon campaigns: conversion rate of 6.7%;
  • Reactivation campaigns: conversion rate of 5.4%; and
  • Lifecycle campaigns: conversion rate of 8.6%.

(Conversion rates are defined as orders per click.)

Separately, the study reveals continued growing comfort with using mobile devices to make purchases. Smartphones passed one-third (35%) of email-driven revenue for the first time, while accounting for half (51%) of all email-driven orders. Still, the disparity between smartphones’ share of orders and share of revenue suggests that users making email-driven purchases on these devices aren’t yet comfortable with bigger-ticket buys.

Which Themed Campaigns Worked?

Q1 features a number of events and holidays around which marketers can use themed campaigns. The analysts note that these emails are typically paired with an offer, but even if not are a good way for marketers to engage with subscribers by taking advantage of relevant moments.

So which themed campaigns were able to drive the highest response rates? The study demonstrates that:

  • Emails referencing Mardi Gras (19.3%) and the Academy Awards (18.7%) had the highest open rates;
  • Campaigns referencing Festivals (2.5%) and the Academy Awards (2%) had the highest unique click rates; and
  • Messages referencing Festivals (15.2%) and Daylight Savings (11.6%) had the highest click-to-open rates.

By contrast, subscribers didn’t seem to respond to emails referencing April Fool’s Day, Easter or the Super Bowl.

Inactive Subscribers on the Rise

While the first quarter of the year did bring with it strong engagement rates, there were some other less positive results.

Indeed, the average unsubscribe rate grew by 15.7% quarter-over-quarter, which at first glance seems odd given the decline in email volume. However, as Yes Lifecycle Marketing (YLM) points out, many consumers subscribe to marketing communications during the holiday period to take advantage of deals and discounts, and then unsubscribe after the season unless given a reason to continue engaging.

Along with high unsubscribe rates Q1 saw a new peak in terms of subscriber inactivity. Fully 21.1% of subscribers in YLM clients’ databases were last active more than a year earlier. That’s up from 18.8% in Q2 2017 as inactive subscribers’ share of subscribers has now grown for 3 consecutive quarters.

The full report is available to download here.

About the Data: The results are based on an analysis of 7 billion emails sent through Yes Lifecycle Marketing’s cross-channel marketing platform, Yesmail360i.

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