Epsilon’s latest quarterly study of email trends indicates that during Q2, 51% of the average email file was active, inching up from 50.1% in Q1 and 49.9% in Q4 2012. Active segments of the average email file broke down as follows: superstars – mature subscribers who have opened and/or clicked within the most recent 3 months (16%); rising stars – new subscribers who have opened and/or clicked (4%); and nappers – mature subscribers who have opened and/or clicked more than 3 months ago (31%). Activity rates were lower among new subscribers.
On average, the Epsilon data shows that 11% of an email file was new in Q2 2013, meaning that they had been on file for less than 3 months. Among these new subscribers, 36% were active after their initial opt-in (24% opening; 12% clicking), while the remaining 64% were inactive. That 64% reverses a downward trend: in Q1, 61.5% were considered active; in Q4 2012, 63.4% were inactive; and in Q3 2012, 66% were inactive.)
The consumer publishing/media general sector had the highest proportion of super stars (24%) for the second consecutive quarter, this time tied with the financial services CC/banks sector for the honor of having the highest proportion of engaged mature subscribers. Meanwhile, the retail apparel sector had easily the highest proportion of rising stars, at 10%. By contrast, the consumer services telecom (60%) had the highest average proportion of dormants.
The analysis of subscriber behavior is based on 710 million non-bounced out and opted-in email addresses. These addresses were contacted from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2013 across multiple industries and from approximately 150 clients.
Open and Click Rates Fall After Strong Q1
The average business-as-usual (BAU) email open rate in North America fell to 28.8% in Q2 after hitting a multi-quarter peak of 31.1% in Q1. Similarly, the average click rate fell from 5.1% in Q1 to 4.3% in Q2. While this past quarter’s average open rate still represented an improvement from the year-earlier period (25.6%), the same couldn’t be said about the average click rate, which stood slightly higher at 4.4% in Q2 2012.
Breaking the BAU emails down by 13 industry segments, Epsilon reveals that open rates increased by more than 5% year-over-year in 9. The retail general (40%) and financial services CC/banks (39.6%) sectors topped the list by open rate, while consumer services telecom (18.5%) was at the bottom. Consumer products CPG boasted easily the highest click rate (7.7%) for the second consecutive quarter, followed by retail general (5%).
Click-to-open rates (CTORs) fell by more than 5% year-over-year in 10 of the 13 industries. Consumer products CPG again boasted the highest CTOR (40.5%), while financial services CC/banks (9.9%) occupied the bottom spot.
Further data from the Epsilon report reveals that triggered emails – deployed as a result of an action, such as Welcome or Abandoned Shopping Cart -Â continued to vastly outperform business as usual (BAU) emails. Open rates for triggered emails dropped slightly to 49.2% after hitting a peak of 50% in Q1, but widened their gap with BAUs to 72.6%. Click rates on triggered emails also dipped slightly from 11.2% to 10.7%, but the average click rate for triggered emails was 152.3% greater than for BAU emails.
Triggered email non-bounce rates continued to be healthy in Q2, at 95%, only slightly below BAU emails’ rate of 96.1%. Triggered messages accounted for 3.5% of total email volume, up from 2.6% a year earlier.
- In Q2, 53.5%% of emails deployed through Epsilon’s email platform were characterized as marketing messages, down significantly from 61.4% in Q1. The open rate for these emails in Q4 was 24.1% (compared to 24.4% in Q1, 22.5% in Q4, 21.8% in Q3 and 20.2% in Q2), significantly behind the rates for service (53.7%) and research (39.2%) messages. Click rates also lagged at 3.4%, flat from Q1, but up from 3% in Q4 2012, 2.9% in Q3, and 2.6% in Q2. CTOR for marketing messages in Q1 was 14.1%, also unchanged from Q1, but again 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 hold onto their performance improvements from previous quarters.
- Marketing message CTORs were highest in the retail general (21.2%) category and lowest in the financial services general (4.5%) category.
- The highest triggered email open rate was in the financial services CC/banks (63.9%) category. The highest triggered email click rates were in the consumer products CPG (16.9%), and consumer products pharmaceutical (16.4%) categories.
- Consumer products CPG (+178.3%) showed the largest disparity in open rates between triggered and BAU emails, for the sixth consecutive quarter.
- The consumer products pharmaceutical Â (+283.1%) and retail apparel (+260.4%) categories demonstrated the most significant differences in click rates between triggered and BAU emails.
About the Data: Epsilon’s Q2 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 Q2 (April, May and June) 2013, across multiple industries and approximately 150 participating clients.