An analysis by Yesmail Interactive [download page] of more than 5 billion email messages sent during Q2 2012 has concluded that B2B databases had a subscriber activity rate of just 1.5% (referring to the percentage who opened an email in the last 90 days). The researchers note that subscriber activity rates showed strong variations based on targeting and frequency, and that low subscriber activity rates were sometimes the result of companies making a point of only mailing to small segments of their databases. Nevertheless, they also indicate that these practices leave “a clear area of opportunity for marketers to engage a larger portion of their subscribers through strategic email programs such as re-activation, nurture, life-cycle and more.”
The database activity rate for B2B mailers was significantly lower than for other industries, which averaged 7.3% overall. Hospitality and travel marketers enjoyed the highest activity rate, of 23.4%, followed by healthcare (17.7%), publishing (15.2%) and retail and wholesale (10.7%). After B2B, the next-lowest rate was 3.7%, for the marketing and advertising industry.
Recent research from Epsilon indicates that about one-quarter of the average email file was active in Q1 (44.3% of subscribers were inactive for the prior 12 months and 31% of subscribers had not having opened or clicked an email in at least 3 months).
The B2B industry’s low activity rate seems to be the result of targeting smaller niches rather than low open rates, as the industry’s unique open rate of 17.3% was among the top-half for the 11 industries tracked by Yesmail. The B2B industry showed a lower-than-average click-to-open rate, though, of 9% (compared to the overall average of 12.8%). What’s more, its unsubscribe rate of 0.45% was multiples larger than the next-highest rate of 0.16%, for CPG mailers.
Based on a 90-day period, the B2B industry averaged just a single open per opener and single click per clicker. By contrast, the consumer service industry averaged a leading 15 opens per opener, although all other industries were in the single-digit realm.
While email frequency is often described as the reason for unsubscribes, Yesmail’s data suggests that “frequency is not an enemy provided marketers are meeting the demands of their customer.” The results show that active subscriber activity rates were high (upwards of 20%) for marketers emailing those subscribers between 3 and 7 times per week. By contrast, subscriber activity rates were generally low (less than 5%) for marketers emailing them less than once a week.
On average, marketers sent active subscribers 2 emails per week during the quarter.