Second-Quarter Drift: Email Opens And Clicks Fell Slightly, Epsilon Reports

Open and click-through rates fell slightly in the second quarter even as email volume went up, according to Email Trends And Benchmarks Q2 2019, a study by Epsilon.

The open rate for business-as-usual (BAU) emails — those encompassing marketing, editorial, legal, service and other messages — averaged 30.7%, versus 33.5% in the first quarter of this year and 31.2% in 2018. The click-through rate fell to 2.9% from 3.3% in the prior quarter and 3.4% in the second quarter of last year.

At the same time, overall sending rose by 4.3%, quarter-over-quarter, suggesting that “we’ve reached the tipping point for consumers and email volume,” the study states. But this could spell an opportunity for brands trying to improve. 

Epsilon analyzed aggregated data from billions of emails, classifying some results — those delivered through its Agility Harmony platform — as “unique.” The firm studied results from 170 Agility Harmony clients.



Of those, there was a unique open rate of 20.6%, down from 21.7% in the first quarter. But it beats the rate of 19.4% achieved in the second quarter of last year.

The unique click-through rate dropped to 2.0% from 2.3% in the first quarter and 2.3% in second-quarter 2018.

Among the types of messages sent, general triggered service communications achieved an open rate of 38.2% and a unique click-through rate of 5.5%. The click-to open rate hit 14.3%. 

In contrast, BAU marketing emails pulled 12% open, 0.7% click-through and 5.8% click-to-open rates.

Editorial/newsletter emails generated 11.2% unique open, 2.6% click-through and 23.3% click-to-open rates.

As usual, triggered emails did better than BAU, largely because of personalized targeting and content. While triggered messages made up only 2.1% of total volume, they garnered open rates of 50.9% -- down from 53.5% in the previous quarter -- and clicks of 7.5%, compared with 8.8% in the first quarter.

Results also varied by industry.

The automotive category, including both car sales and service, saw big increases in its click rate (48% in Q2) and click rate (8.3%).

Consumer services brands — marketers of telecom, lifestyle, internet and hobby/specialist services — did well for the most part. Their average open rate was 32.7%, click rate 3.6%. But their click-to-open was 10.4%, a big drop from the last quarter. Their non-bounce rate: 98.5%. 

Emails for business products & services firms enjoyed an average open rate of 28.2% in the second quarter and a click rate of 3.0%. The non-bounce rate was 97.7%. 

The consumer & business publishing category drew an average open rate of 25.2%, a click rate of 3.6% and a click-to-open rate of 12.7%. The non-bounce rate hit 96.8% 

Banks and other financial services enjoyed a 51.7% open rate and a click rate of 3.5%. The click-to-open rate was 6.9%. But those results have been flat for four years. Perhaps because they are heavily regulated, banks send 26% more service emails than other industries. 

General financial brands also saw slightly lower rates, although they held steady year-over-year. The open rate was 42.9%, the click rate was 5%, and the click-to-open rate was 9.8%. Legal messages account for 25% of those delivered in this sector.

Travel & hospitality companies recorded a 23.4% average open rate, a 2.3% click rate an 8.6% click-to-open rate.

The pharmaceutical industry clocked a 21.1% open rate and a 3.6% click rate. The click-to-open rate was 26%, and the non-bounce percentage 98.3%.  

Retail did the worst, showing across-the-board decreases: The click rate was 20.1%, the click rate was 1.6% and the click-to-open rate was 9.1%. But retail had an almost perfect non-bounce rate of 99.1%. 

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