That's according to new third quarter analysis from direct marketing agency Epsilon and the Direct Marketing Association's Email Experience Council, and based on billions of emails sent by about 150 brands.
"The economic recovery in the third quarter was pretty anemic, which was reflected in steady open rates and click-through rates," said Yoram Wurmser, director of marketing and media insights at the Direct Marketing Association. "As the holiday shopping season picks up in the fourth quarter, it will be interesting to see whether open rates and click-through rates rise accordingly."
In the third quarter of the year, six of the thirteen reported industries saw an increase in open rates year-over-year.
Year-over-year, open-rate winners included general business products and services; financial services and apparel, general, and specialty retail; and travel and hospitality services.
The losers, meanwhile, included general business publishing and media; consumer packaged goods; consumer pharmaceutical products; general consumer publishing and media; general consumer services; consumer telecom; and general financial services.
The average click rate was 5.4% -- up from 5.2% during the previous quarter -- while the average volume per client increased 10.2% year-over-year.
"The third-quarter summer months are seasonably slow as email marketers ramp up for the holiday season, where we traditionally see a significant peak in volume as well as response rates," said Kevin Mabley, SVP of Strategic & Analytic Consulting at Epsilon.
Epsilon categorized 63.1% of the emails it delivered during the quarter as "marketing messages," which had relatively low open (17.3%) and click (3.6%) rates -- although both increased over the previous quarter.
Due to the nature of the campaigns, service-type messages had the highest open rates (37.3%) while editorial messages had the highest click rates (7.4%). Service messages and editorial messages typically contain highly relevant and targeted information -- i.e., account updates and news, which may be why they perform well.
"Our research shows that transactional messages continue to outperform standard marketing messages given their highly relevant and timely nature," Mabley said. "Transactions and other trigger opportunities are a great way for email marketers to move campaigns to more of an ongoing conversation with subscribers and to reach consumers when they are in the market for a particular product or service."