Worldwide Opens And Clicks: Newsletters Do Well, Triggered Emails Even Better

Want to write an email subject line that works? Offer content. The three most effective subject-line words are newsletter (31.43%), PDF (30.31%) and ebook (27.84%), according to a global study released on Wednesday by GetResponse.

That doesn’t mean newsletters produce the best open and click-through rates — that distinction belongs to automated emails.

Triggered emails generate an open rate of 44.05%, a click-through rate of 10.39% and a click-to-open rate of 23.59%. 

In contrast, newsletters produce an average open rate of 20.48%, a click-through rate of 2.84% and a click-to-open rate of 13.86%.

And less is more when it comes to newsletters. Those sent weekly have the highest engagement levels — a 33.4% open rate, a 4.65% click-through rate and a 13.91% click-to-open rate.

GetResponse analyzed over 4 billion email marketing campaigns from 126 countries and 19 industries. Each email marketer included had at least 1,000 contacts.



It found that Auto-responder emails — i.e., those send to new subscribers — also beat newsletters. They generate a 29.77% open rate, a 5.92% click-through rate and a 19.90% click-to-open rate. Those with links to content or offers do even better: they pull an 88.7% open rate.

RSO emails — those that link to blogs — achieve a 26.78% open rate, a 6.67% click-through rate and a 24.99% click-to-open rate.

It found, among other things, that response varies widely by continent.

Europe, despite all the alarms about GDPR, scores a 25.84% open rate, a 4.35% click-through rate and a 16.22% click-to-open rate.  North America has an average open rate of 19%, a click-through rate of 2.98% and a click-to-open rate of 15.71%.

Asia and Africa have lower metrics, but South America and Oceana, while they have higher open rates, do not perform well with the other numbers.

The overall difference in open rates between Europe and North America is 7.84 percentage points and 1.37% for click-through rates, the study notes.

“This may not seem like much at first, but given the fact that the average click-through rate (CTR) in North America is 2.98%, the difference of 1.37 percentage points accounts for +46% more clicks (if we ignore the sample size difference) for the campaigns sent by European marketers.

Among countries, the United States does well enough, with an 18.39% open, a 2.78% click-through rate and a 15.11% open rate. But it is outpaced by several countries, including, for example: 

  • Germany — 40.67% open rate, 6.99% click-through rate, 17.99% click-to-open rate
  • Russia — 23.95% open rate, 5.71% click-through rate, 23.84% click-to-open rate
  • Ukraine — 27.89% open rate, 5.91% click-through rate, 21.21% click-to-open rate
  • Israel — 21.72% open rate, 3.51% click-through rate, 16.16% click-to-open rate

Of course, the metrics do not cover back-end conversions and ROI. In these areas, we suspect, the U.S. has an advantage.

The UK is closer to the U.S. in the engagement numbers — it has a 18.39% open rate, a 2.66% click-through rate and a 14.45% click-through-rate.

Has GDPR affected things? That’s not clear. Markets like Germany, France, and the Netherlands “still dominate the top of our table,” the study notes. And while France “saw a loss of 1 percentage point in CTR, Germany observed an over 1.7 percentage point increase around the same time.”

The report continues: “Countries that were primarily unaffected by GDPR, e.g., Brazil, the US, and Canada, saw their average open rates and click-through rates drop (continuing the decline from last year.)

This may be attributable to consumers becoming more aware of their rights, or it may be because marketers “are shifting their focus to the channels that aren’t owned by anyone – like email,” the study notes.

Among industries, the communications field seems to excel, pulling a 28.80% open rate, a 6.38% click-through rate and a 22.15% open rate. Publishing, probably the source of many newsletters, enjoys a 29.64% open rate, a 6.46% click-through rate and a 21.78% click-to-open rate.

And subject-line length? Some are from 90 to 140 characters. But some at 85 are even shorter, which makes them readable on mobile.

Here’s one more finding to keep in mind: 19% of all emails are opened within the first hour.

The conclusion from all this? 

“Email continues to be the foundation of an integrated marketing campaign because it provides a low cost, high ROI channel to engage subscribers that are already primed to hear from you,” states Aleksandra Korczynska, marketing director, GetResponse.


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