I am truly an email geek — my Fourth of July was made all the better by the release of the Epsilon Q1 2016 Email Trends and Benchmarks Report. If you’ve been following me you know that I’ve been following the Epsilon Email Trends and Benchmarks Report since Q3 2006 — nearly 10 years.
Here’s what’s new and exciting in this quarter’s report:
1. Open Rates — for Both Business-as-usual and Triggered Email Messages — Hit a New High
Despite image blocking, open rates have been trending upward for years. This quarter both the business-as-usual and triggered open rate benchmarks hit new highs — see the chart below.
For those of you following along at home, here is the data:
- Business-as-usual Open Rate: 33.3%, this bested the most recent high of 32.2% reached in 4Q 2014
- Triggered Open Rate: 55.8%, which bested 55.6%, the last high point reached in 3Q 2014
2. Click-through Rates for Business-as-usual Email Messages Didn’t Decrease Quarter-over-Quarter
Seems like a hollow victory I know, but the fact that click-through rates didn’t decrease is actually big news. This hasn’t happened since 3Q 2013 — nearly 3 years ago.
Here’s the data:
- Business-as-usual Click-through Rate: 3.4%, an increase over 4Q 2015’s number which was 3.2%
- Triggered Click-through Rates have been fluctuating: the 11.4% we see for 1Q 2016 is above the 4Q 2015 data (10.5%) but equal to the 3Q 2015 number.
3. Click-to-Open Rates for Business-as-usual Email Messages Hit a New Low
The open rate was up and the click-through rate wasn’t down — but it still wasn’t enough to keep the business-as-usual click-to-open rate out of the gutter.
Once again, a chart:
And the data:
- Business-as-usual Click-to-open rate for 1Q 2016 hit 10.2%, down from the 10.5% figure in 4Q 2015 and the lowest it’s been since at least 3Q 2006, the year I began keeping track.
- Triggered Click-to-open rates hit 20.4% in 1Q 2016, which is an improvement over 4Q 2015 (19.4%) and above the historic low of 18.3% (recorded in 3Q 2014). But this is still below the 21.0% and above figure recorded most recently in 2Q and 3Q 2015, as well as in the 2013 timeframe.
So what does all this mean for your email marketing efforts this month?
Not as much as you might think.
The key to successful email marketing isn’t to meet or even exceed the industry benchmarks. In truth, the benchmarks don’t mean much. For me they are a tale of what could be, something to shoot for. I’ve reported on the averages across all industries — there are also industry-specific benchmarks which I often look at when working with clients.
All that said, you can have a highly profitable program that lags industry benchmarks — and one that loses money but surpasses the industry averages for open and click rates.
What really matters is return-on-investment — how much revenue is your email marketing program generating compared to what it costs. That’s where the rubber hits the road and that’s what I goal to, whenever possible, with my clients.
But the industry benchmarks are still fascinating to me — and I hope you enjoy them too.