Email Metrics: Wee Hour Postings Pay Off
Email remains the preferred method of communication among social media users who choose to interact with companies and brands online. 56% of US Internet users interact with brands via marketing emails only, compared to 1.3% who interact only on Twitter and 0.7% who interact on Facebook alone. The same source reveals that US Internet users engage with an average of 11.8 brands through email, compared to only 9.4 and 7.9 brands on Facebook and Twitter respectively.
The report quotes additional sources for study data relating to Email considerations:
- According to a study conducted by Lyris, 54% of online marketers in North America said that combining social media with email marketing led to either somewhat or significantly better results
- MarketingSherpa found that roughly 80% of marketers said social sharing elements in email campaigns "extends the reach of email content to new markets" (81%) and "increases brand reputation and awareness" (78%). Roughly 70 million mobile users accessed email through their mobile device or smart phone in 2010, with 43.5 million doing so on a near-daily basis.
- In a survey conducted by BtoB Magazine in January 2011, 63% of the respondents planned to increase spending on email in 2011. The Digital Marketing Outlook Survey found that 70% of brand marketers planned to invest in email marketing
The data for the report is based on over 977 million email messages from 87,000 newsletter campaigns. The data includes email messages sent to 25 or more recipients between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010.
As a general trend over the last few years, the industry has seen a continued decline in email open rates, says the report. In previous years, the reasons cited for the open rate decline were image blocking, increased use of smart phones and list fatigue. Though these factors continue to adversely affect email open rates, another element influencing open rates is the increasingly large volume of emails that subscribers regularly receive.
Since 2007, retail email volume per subscriber has increased to 61% overall with the most significant jump in 2010 when volume increased by 16% year-over-year. Over the past three years retail email volume has increased by 61%, reaching a record high in 2010. As the volume of emails reaching the inbox increases, the likelihood that recipients are opening and interacting with the email starts to diminish, perhaps explaining the slow and steady decline of email open rates over the past few years, says the report.
The open rate trend by industry shows that Transportation (17.6%), Non-Profit (15.2%) and Consulting (14.9%) are the top performers in 2010 while Media (8%), Restaurant (8%) and Medical (7.1%) have the lowest email open rates.
When compared to the 2009 industry findings, email open rates show steady declines with the exception of Banking and Marketing which increased year over year to 12.8% and 9.4% open rates respectively.
Smaller email list sizes that range from 25-499 and 500-999 recipients perform better than list sizes that contain 1,000 or more email addresses. Small to medium-sized lists tend to be more targeted and relevant to the recipients allowing email open rates to be a higher when compared to considerably larger lists.
In list sizes between 25-499, Real-Estate (35.3%), Religious (34.6%) and Non-Profit (32.4%) had the highest email open rates. Industries sending emails to 500-999 list members with the highest email open rates included Education (32%), Retail (29.7%) and Wholesale (27.7%). Finally, the Transportation (17.6%), Non-Profit (14.8%) and Large Business (14.4%) industries were among the highest email open rates with list sizes exceeding 1,000 subscribers.
Email marketers can expect their open rates to peak within the first two hours after delivery. This peak is then followed by a sloping decline for the next 46 hours, indicating that those who are looking forward to the email, because they recognize the brand or come to expect the email as a source of valuable information, are more likely to open it soon after it reaches their inbox.
An email marketer can expect roughly 50% of 300 opens to occur within the first 6 hours of delivering their email message. Within the first 24 hours, approximately 77% of the 300 opens will have occurred.
According to the study, email messages that contained more than 20 links had the highest click rate at 5.4% followed by 3% click rate for emails with 11-20 links, 1.6% for emails with 5-10 links and 1.4% click rate for emails containing 1 to 5 links. Emails that contain fewer links are often more focused on specific subject matters which may not resonate with each recipient on the list.
Timing, including the day of the week and time of day an email is sent, will often affect email open and click rates.
Open rates fluctuated marginally throughout the week, with Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays generating the highest open rates during both the first and second halves of the year. Open rates were generally lower during the second half of the year, with a considerable drop off on Saturdays which may indicate fewer emails were sent on Saturdays during July through December.
In general, subscribers showed the highest engagement by clicking on links within emails during the weekends. Sunday in particular generated the highest volume of opens and clicks during the year with an open rate of 12.2% and a click rate of 4.4% on average. Click rates were lowest on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Email messages that are scheduled to be delivered very early in the morning generate comparatively high open and click rates. The findings suggest that email marketers who schedule their email campaigns to be delivered between 1 am and 5 am can expect higher volumes of email opens and clicks. A similar trend is apparent in the early evening following regular business hours. Email marketers who scheduled their emails to be delivered between 6 pm and 7 pm local time, for example, experienced a considerable jump in their open and click rates.
There is a notable drop off during the middle of the day in which email opens and clicks tend to be stagnant for several hours. This indicates emails which are scheduled to be delivered during the middle of the day are less likely to be opened.
Drilling down to the specific time of day, emails are typically opened during the morning hours between 7 am and 10 am which supports the data discussed in the section Open And Click Rates By Time Scheduled. During this time email open rates maintain a steady climb until noon, at which point open rates begin to slowly decline.
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