Boosting Email Volume Doesn't Impact Open Rates

Shopping season gets bigger at the end of every year with sales for back-to-school shopping, Labor Day, Halloween, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, post-Christmas and many others filling up in-boxes around the country.

According to a new study from email marketing firm Yesmail, open rates will stay the same in the fourth quarter, or even increase based on the quality of the campaign, regardless of the high volume of emails sent.

Analyzing email metrics from key retailers -- including Home Depot, Walmart and Apple -- from the latter half of 2013 and 2014, the study shows a shift from the historical trend of average open rates declining in relation to a high volume of emails in the holiday season. 

In 2013 and 2014, average quarterly email volume between the third and fourth quarters increased by 46%, but the average open rate remained steady at about 14%, resulting in a higher volume of emails opened. 

Some 83% of retailers sent out winter or holiday-themed emails in 2014. When they were deployed at the right time, average open rates actually increased to 15%.

Much of the increased response can be attributed to better mobile technology, said Bob Sybydlo, director of market intelligence and deliverability at Yesmail. “It’s staggering how much those open rates on mobile have increased," he said. As marketers take a mobile-first approach, their email campaigns are rendering well in a mobile environment with bigger screens and faster processors.

Certain major events -- such as back-to-school, Black Friday and Thanksgiving -- benefited from campaigns implemented later on in the season, while holidays like Halloween, Cyber Monday and Christmas saw increased engagement from earlier deployment. 

The growth of holiday season email deals, while explosive, is limited by deliverability and clutter. Marketers can’t think they’re the only ones in consumers' in-boxes, and they need to be aware of what sets them apart from their competitors.

As more marketers and advertisers try to capitalize on the holiday season, Sybydlo doesn’t think it’s far-fetched that more made-up holidays like Cyber Monday or Amazon’s recent Prime Day will start to become commonplace.

Overall, fourth-quarter 2014 in-boxing rate increased month-over-month and achieved a 2% increase over the fourth quarter of 2013.

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