March Mayhem: Email Volume And KPIs Were All Over The Lot

Email volume usually slumps in February, only to bounce back in March.

But this year, it rose more slowly than it did in the same period in 2019, reflecting the impact of COVID-19, according to Email & Mobile Benchmark Report Q1, a study by Cheetah Digital.

Based on an index value of 100, February volume dropped by 5.5% from January in each year, then rose by a lesser degree than the 7% reported in 2019, reflecting metrics  

The overall click-to-open rate fell to 11.1%, a 5.7% decline from the same period last year. In addition, the transaction rate declined by 30.9%, and the revenue per email rose by 22.2%. But the average value rose to $188 — a 19.2% increase. The unsubscribe rate rose to 0.12%, a 33.7% hike.

However, the results depended on the vertical category.   


Volume increased by 22% YOY in the finance sector, driven by campaigns highlighting assistance to customers affected by COVID-19. But this might have led to the 27.3% hike in unsubscribe rate to a still-low 0.13%.



Open rates in this area rose by 23.6% and unique opens by 11.7% YOY. The click-to-open rate fell 13.8% by to 9.0%, and the total click rate increased by 17.7% to 4.4%. 


Volume also leaped in the media arena, increasing by 21% in March — up from 9% growth in 2019 — with media brands reaching out to people staying at home and hot topics including cooking, home projects and family entertainment. 

Total opens increased by 26.3% to 40.8% and unique opens rose by 12% to 22.4%. The click-to-open rate also increased by 5.2% to 16.2%. However, the unsubscribe rate also rose — by 90.7%, to 0.06%.


As might be expected, given store closures, the retail field saw a 2% decline in March volume, versus a 7% increased last year, based on the Cheetah index.  Almost half of all retail brands had lower YoY volume during the month.

Total opens saw a 6.3% improvement to 27.6% and unique opens clocked in at 16.7%, up by 0.7%. 

The transaction rate tumbled by 33.5% and the revenue per email by 25.8%. But 44% of brands saw significant increases in these metrics, and the average order rate leaped by 14.7% to $189.


The service sector, also reflecting heightened interest in personal and financial security, saw a 39% March jump in volume over January and a 14% YoY boost.

Total opens rocketed by 33.5% to 65.5%, and uniques by 17.5% to 32.7%. And the unsubscribe rate went down by 17.3% to 0.08%.


Befitting an industry that has lost much of its business during the pandemic, travel email declined in volume by 17%, compared with a 16% increased last year.

Still, the total open rate was elevated by 7.4% and the click-to-open by 8.7%.

Messages announcing important COVID-19 updates had higher-than-average opens for travel brands. The unsubscribe rate experienced a 54.1% boost to 0.10%.

Mobile now accounts for 52% of all clicks, including 59% for finance, 31% for media, 60% for retail, 50% for service and 54% for travel.



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