Promotional email open rates have jumped during the COVID-19 pandemic, averaging 18.2% in March and 19.4% in April and then sliding to 18% in May, according to the 2020 Covid-19 Email Marketing Benchmark Report, a study by Acoustic, a marketing cloud platform.
In contrast, the average open rate was 14.8% in January.
Globally, there was a 4.7% increase in rates from February to April and a 5.4% increase in North America.
Acoustic analyzed email marketing messages sent by its clients from January 1 through May 31. These included promotional messages but not transactional or triggered emails.
Among verticals, 58.3% of transportation companies pulled an almost 60% hike in open rates — to 30% — from February to March.
Financial services firms were next, generating a 35.4% increase to 18% during that one-month period. Hospitals and healthcare providers rose by 3.7% to 34.5%. But the energy and environment field pulled the highest open rate: 48.4%, with a 32.1% boost.
Open rates also varied by region from January to May, averaging 16.8% overall:
Overall, click-through rates fell to 7.5% in March, them jumped back to 9.3%, the average for January.
The study attributes the March plummet to the fact that brand were brands were communicating their COVID-19 policies with lengthy emails from their CEOs. These contained few links and no CTAs, the study states.
The big change came in April, when companies moved to more action-oriented emails.
Click-through rates averaged 1.47% overall, with these regional differences:
Europe also had the highest click-to-open rate ratio, surpassing the overall 8.74% average:
And despite claims on social media that they are opting out of emails, the unsubscribe rates were relatively low during April and May, averaging 0.064% overall:
The report speculates that reduced volume may account for lower unsubscribe rates.