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Epsilon-email-open-and-click-rates-q42009-q12013-jul2013The average email open rate in North America climbed to 31.1% in Q1, a significant increase from 27.4% in Q4, according to [download page] a new report from Epsilon. And after having dropped from 5.9% in Q1 2011 to 4.5% in Q4 2012, click rates rebounded to 5.1% in Q1 2013, a finding which Epsilon believes is an indication that marketers are increasingly optimizing emails for mobile devices.

Further data from the Epsilon report reveals that triggered emails, deployed as a result of an action, such as Welcome or Abandoned Shopping Cart ”“ continued to vastly outperform business as usual (BAU) emails. Open rates for triggered emails rose to an average of exactly 50% in Q1, the best performance in at  least a couple of years, and 60.1% higher than the BAU rate. (Open rates between the two email types have narrowed somewhat: the difference was more than 70% in Q4 2012).  Click rates on triggered emails rebounded after dropping for 5 consecutive quarters, increasing from 9% in Q4 2012 to 11.2% in Q1 2013. The average click rate for triggered emails was more than double the rate for BAU emails.

Triggered email non-bounce rates continued to be healthy in Q1, at 95.9%, only slightly below BAU emails’ rate of 96.4%. Triggered messages accounted for 3.3% of total email volume, up from 2.3% a year earlier, but down from 5% in Q4 2012.

Majority of Industries See An Uptick in Open Rates

Breaking the BAU emails down by 13 industry segments, Epsilon reveals that open rates increased by more than 5% year-over-year in 8. The financial services CC/Banks (41.6%) and retail general (39.1%) sectors topped the list, while consumer publishing/media general (19.3%) languished at the bottom. Consumer products CPG boasted easily the highest click rate (8.3%), followed by consumer publishing/media general (6.5%).

Click-to-open rates (CTORs) fell by more than 5% year-over-year in 7 of the 13 industries. Consumer products CPG again boasted the highest CTOR (39.6%), while consumer services telecom (11.2%) occupied the bottom spot.

Most New Subscribers Inactive

Epsilon-New-Email-Subscriber-Behavior-in-Q1-Jul2013Further details from Epsilon’s “Q1 2013 Email Trends and Benchmarks” report indicate that almost exactly half of an average email list was active in Q1 ”“ either by opening or clicking on emails. Among new subscribers, though, who comprised 10.3% of the average list, 61.5% were considered inactive (down from 63.4% in Q4 and 66% in Q3). 13.1% were dubbed “new clickers” (who had opened and clicked), and 25.4% “new openers” (who had opened).

The figures were better once again among “mature” subscribers ”“ who had been on a list for longer than 3 months. In Q1, 51.2% of these subscribers had engaged in some way in the previous 12 months, although only 17.2  had either opened or clicked recently (down from 26.8% in Q4).

Breaking down the overall performance of an average list by subscriber behavior, the report finds that in Q1, only 15.6% were “super stars” who had opened or clicked emails within the most recent 3 months (down from 24.5% in Q4), an additional 31% (up from 21.5%) were “nappers” (who had opened or clicked more than 3 months prior), and 44.3% were “dormant” (inactive for the previous 12 months).

The consumer publishing/media general sector had the highest proportion of super stars (23.8%), putting an end to a trend which had seen the retail general sector occupy that spot for at least a couple of quarters. By contrast, the consumer products pharmaceutical (60.5%) had the highest average proportion of dormants, followed by the consumer services general (55.7%) vertical.

The analysis of subscriber behavior is based on 696 million non-bounced out and opted in email addresses. These addresses were contacted from April 1, 2012 through March 31, 2013, across multiple industries and from approximately 150 clients.

Other Findings:

  • In Q1, 61.4% of emails deployed through Epsilon’s email platform were characterized as marketing messages, relatively flat from Q4 2012. The open rate for these emails in Q4 was 24.4% (compared to 22.5% in Q4, 21.8% in Q3 and 20.2% in Q2), significantly behind the rates for service (41.8%) and research (37.7%) messages. Click rates also lagged at 3.4%, though they have been rising steadily from 3% in Q4 2012, 2.9% in Q3, and 2.6% in Q2. CTOR for marketing messages in Q1 was 14.1%, representing an increase from 13.5% in Q4, 13.3% in Q3 and 12.7% in Q2. So while marketing emails trailed other categories in effectiveness, they did see a performance improvement from previous quarters.
  • Marketing message CTORs were highest in the consumer publishing/media general (22.9%) category and lowest in the financial services general (4.9%) category.
  • The highest triggered email open rate was in the retail general (68.6%) category. The highest triggered email click rates were in the consumer products CPG (18.2%), and retail apparel (16.5%) categories.
  • Consumer products CPG (+188.4%) showed the largest disparity in open rates between triggered and BAU emails, for the fifth consecutive quarter.
  • The business publishing/media general  (+422.5%) and consumer services telecom (+378.6%) categories demonstrated the most significant differences in click rates between triggered and BAU emails.

About the Data: Epsilon’s Q1 2013 Email Trends and Benchmarks analyze performance trends by both industry and message type to provide an understanding of how the average company in each category performs. The study is compiled from 6.1 billion emails sent in Q1 (January, February and March) 2013, across multiple industries and approximately 150 participating clients.

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