C-Suite Emails: Employees Will Open Messages But Ignore Links, Study Finds

Email marketers might envy the open rates pulled by corporate employee emails.

The average corporate open rate is 70.5%, and the high end is 85%, according to Corporate Communications: Internal Email Benchmarks For 10 Industry Sectors, a study by PoliteMail. 

But 10.2% of employees will ignore emails, meaning that the actual audience attention rate is 60.3%.

And, of course, opening and reading are two different things.

Most people who open a company email and don’t ignore it outright will read 79% of the content. Yet another 21% will read less than 20%, while 39% will read at least 30% and 35% will read less than half.

And companies shouldn’t bother putting links in their emails. Only 9% of all recipients will click through, and the rate rises to 12% for those who open the email. 

One lesson is that firms should focus on data accuracy and monitoring advanced email metrics, the study says.

As with email marketing, the main factors that drive readership are “relevant subject lines and preview content, layout and design formatting, writing and images, message length and delivery timing,” it adds.



The average corporate email takes 2.37 minutes to read.

Employees receive an average of 22 email broadcasts per month. With an average reading time of 2.37 minutes per email, that adds up to a total of 50:23 minutes of content. In addition, there are 172 links.

Not that employees spend that much time on company emails — the average total reading time is 44:25 minutes.

The study doesn’t distinguish between company newsletters and C-suite announcements. But as long-time wage slaves and email students, we can make some educated guesses about what works. 

Major news will always get the highest open rate: Who won’t click on an email that announces the company has been acquired, the CEO is stepping down or that a downsizing is on the way?

Self-interest also drives opens, as with holiday schedules, bonus payment timing and changes in insurance providers.

What may not work so well are puffy or inspirational pronouncements from the CEO. 

Either way, you need data to assess the effectiveness of your email program.

“One way to deliver internal communications data is through accurate employee communications data from your in-place email platform that respects the privacy of your workforce,” states Michael DesRochers, founder and managing director at PoliteMail.

The 2020 Benchmarks Data Report is based on aggregated, anonymous data from participating PoliteMail customers. The company handles over 586 million internal emails sent to 5.2 million employees. 

The sectors studied include technology, healthcare, industrial, financials, consumer, materials, edu/non-profit, energy, communications and utilities.


Next story loading loading..