Data is the foundation of good email marketing. We are constantly reviewing what is considered good or bad performance metrics. Here we review: Acoustic’s 2019 Benchmarking report for smarter marketing.
Open rates and click-through rates continue to grow
Since 2014, open rates and click-through rates (CTRs) have increased steadily each
year — with the biggest jump in 2018.
The steady rise in rates are likely a combination of two factors: (1) brands are focusing more on list hygiene and high quality subscribers (perhaps due to the influence of various data and privacy related regulations), and (2) messages are more relevant due to the increased use of behaviour- and preference-based.
Transactional messages attract the most engagement
Open rates for transactional emails dropped ever so slightly from 2017 to 2018, but top quartile rates are still above 73% and mean is nearly 44% —20 percentage points higher than non transactional emails (promotional, newsletters, etc.).
The fact that these rates are relatively unchanged could indicate that consumers appear to value messages that are highly relevant and triggered by their own behaviour. As the most engaged emails your brand will send, these emails should be owned and optimized by marketing for a superior customer experience and maximum promotional and revenue-generating opportunity.
Mobile email engagement powers down
What’s up with mobile emails? Not their engagement. Overall and across several of the largest geographic regions, the percentage of email recipients opening emails on mobile devices has declined. (It has grown just slightly in the US.) The application increasing in usage is largely webmail, such as Gmail or Yahoo.
This shift might simply be a result of consumers increasingly using their mobile devices more for general inbox maintenance (such as quickly identifying and deleting messages in which they have no interest) versus opening and engaging with the important messages via email clients on their laptop or desktop computer as well as via webmail.
Acoustic (Formerly IBM Watson Campaign Automation) produce a great benchmarking report, called Email and mobile metrics for smarter marketing. Full copy here.
Let’s have a look at some top-line statistics.
- Open rates
The open rate works best as an in-house benchmark to track over time because it can signal progress or problems with engagement. However, it is not a completely accurate metric because it doesn’t capture all opens due to image blocking, connection speed and other factors.
In other words, track your open rate for comparison to your other messages over time, but don’t use it as a sole measure of campaign success.
Unique email open rates by Geography %
Unique Open Rates - Financial Services %
So as an industry, open rates for the top quartile and average performers in the Financial Services are slightly lower than the overall data set.
A few things to consider when trying to improve open rates.
Is your data up to date?
Having out of date email addresses in your database will automatically reduce the amount of emails that get opened.
Are your emails getting delivered?
Have you checked your deliverability - it’s good practice to run health checks against spam and junk filters to ensure your emails are getting into the inbox.
Are you sending from a recognised name and email address?
People are far more likely to open emails if they are familiar with the sender name and address - keep this consistent and recognisable.
Is the subject line compelling?
This is something you should be A/B testing - subject lines impact open rates.
Transactional messages are often opened at 2x the rate of non-transactional messages.
Transactional emails (order confirmations, hotel receipts, password resets, shipping notices, etc.) generated mean and median unique open rates of 43.8% and 43.9% respectively, and 73.4% in the top quartile.
There’s a great opportunity for marketers to get their messages across using these transactional messages as a delivery mechanism.
- Click-Through Rates (CTR)
The click-through rate (CTR) is a process metric that measures recipient action on an email message. It’s a more revealing metric than the open rate but doesn’t substitute for output goals such as conversions, revenue or order value.
Click-Through Rates by Geography %
Click-Through Rates - Financial Services %
So as an industry our click through rates are slightly below average.
The Acoustic report highlights the following considerations when it comes to Email Click Through Rates: Don’t use generic copy for links like “Read More” or “Click Here.” Instead convey the benefit and value of clicking, such as:
- Download the “9 Investment Trends of 2019” report
It’s also crucial to consider the balance of how much content you place in the email vs what you present after click through on your website. Recipients will click a link if they want to read more, if you’ve given it all away in the email - you’re unlikely to get any further action.
- Click to open rates (CTOR)
CTOR sometimes known as the “effective rate,” sheds more light on engagement than a simple click rate because it measures click-through rates as a percentage of messages opened instead of simply messages delivered.
Click-To-Open Rates by Geography %
Click-To-Open Rates Financial Services %
How does this compare with other sectors?
Banks & Financial Services had one of the lowest CTOR top-quartile average results of any industry sector measured by IBM.
The Acoustic report highlights the following considerations when it comes to CTOR Rates:
If your CTOR is subpar or merely average, try analysing your actual clicks per link across several messages and look for patterns. Which factors do you associate with higher clicks? Does the type of link (such as call to action buttons, product images, text links), link location in the message, or message design drive more clicks?
- Hard bounce rates
Higher-than-average hard bounce rates may indicate you are not eliminating bad email addresses vigorously enough at opt-in or that your operations are not practicing best-in-class, ongoing list hygiene.
Hard Bounce Rates by Geography %
Hard Bounce Rates Financial Services %
Keeping hard bounce rates low is a sign of good data management, it suggests that hard bounces are processed frequently, as they should be. If they are frequently above average then it’s a sign you have some issues with subscriber acquisition.
If your hard bounce rates are much higher than the mean rates, consider using address validation techniques during opt-in to reduce faulty addresses from getting into your database.
- Unsubscribe rates
Rising unsubscribe rates might indicate that your email program doesn’t match what subscribers expected when they signed up. If your unsubscribe rate rises over time or remains constant while spam complaints increase, you might have an unclear unsubscribe process. Worse yet, you may be losing the trust of your subscribers.
Unsubscribe rates by geography %
Unsubscribe Rates Financial Services %
The key to keeping unsubscribe rates low is, not surprisingly, to provide good relevant content in your emails.
As well as this, providing a mechanism for subscribers to change their preferences and adjust the frequency they receive your mailings will also help.
Again, if you’ve got high unsubscribe rates you should review how you are acquiring your data in the first place, relevancy could well be an issue.
That’s just some top level stats to help you review how your email marketing compares with industry benchmarks. I’d strongly recommend a deep dive into the report as it is full of comprehensive statistics across industries. It also covers device usage, as well as mobile and multi channel messaging.
As an agency we use the Acoustic platform, if you are interested in finding out more about Acoustic please get in touch.
We provide a hands on email marketing service as well as strategic and tactical advice. We support clients using many different platforms.
Glossary of terms (as defined by Acoustic)
Open Refers to an HTML email message whose viewing is recorded by a clear
1 X 1 pixel image. When a message is opened and images are enabled, the image calls the server and the message is then counted as an open. The number of opens counted for this research include both this direct reporting and an “implied open.” The implied open applies to text messages that recorded a click on any link in the message or an HTML message whose viewer did not enable images but clicked on a link.
Open Rate (Unique)
The unique open rate measures one open per recipient and is expressed as a percentage of the total number of delivered email messages. To calculate the rate, divide the number of unique opens by the total number of delivered emails, and then multiply by 100 to display the percentage.
Click-Through Rate (CTR) Measures the percentage of email messages that drew at least one click. For this study, it is expressed as unique click-through rate, counting only one click per recipient. To calculate the click-through rate, divide the number of unique clicks by the number of delivered messages and multiply by 100.
Click To Open Rate (CTOR) Measures the percentage of opened messages that recorded clicks. To calculate, divide the number of unique clicks by the number of opened messages and multiply by 100.
Hard Bounce Rate The percentage of sent messages that failed (bounced) because the address doesn’t exist or the account was closed. To calculate, divide the total number of bounced messages by the total number of emails sent, and multiply by 100.
Unsubscribe Rate The percentage of delivered email messages that generates unsubscribe requests. To calculate, divide the number of unsubscribe requests received by delivered emails and multiply by 100.