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Email click through rates drop to 1.6%, with publishing industry hit hardest

Email click through rates drop to 1.6%

Emails are opened and read 14.2% of the time, but consumers have been more cautious about clicking through to external links with a reduction in the aggregate click through rate from 1.8% in 2015 to 1.6% in 2016.

According to the DMA’s latest Email benchmarking report 2017, while delivery rates remained high, open rates have continued to fall from a high of 20% in 2013, to 14.2% in 2016.

However, the DMA believes there a disparity between the perceptions of customers and the experiences of marketers, with consumers reporting that they opened between 28.4% and 50.08% of their emails, between double and four times the number that Email Service Providers (ESP’s) are recording, the DMA said.

The sample covers over 37 billion emails sent by 12 different ESPs.

The most opened emails come from travel (21.1%), utilities (15.0%) and retail (14.9%) brands.

The least opened categories were not-for-profit (6.0%), publishing (7.6%) and finance (9.5%), raising concerns about the relevance of these emails as they reach the consumers’ inbox.

When it comes to clicks, the top performing sector is utilities, with 2.5% winning clicks, followed by travel with 2.4%. The lowest performing sector when it came to click through rates are publishing (0.77%), not-for-profit (0.83%) and finance (0.88%), echoing the pattern observed in open rates.

Jenna Tiffany, a member of the DMA Email council’s research hub and founder & strategy director at Let'sTalk Strategy, said a large percentage of utilities emails sent are statements or bills, and as a result they generate a high open and click rate as customers click to check them.

For the first time, this report collected email metrics for B2B and B2C emails, revealing that B2B emails are slightly more likely to be opened (22.0% for B2B, versus 18.7% for B2C). However, B2C emails receive 57% more unique clicks than their B2B counterparts (2.3% for B2C vs 1.3% for B2B).

This is largely driven by offers that still play a key part in B2C email content, which typically drives a higher open and click rates, said Jenna Tiffany, a member of the DMA Email council’s research hub and founder & strategy director at Let'sTalk Strategy.

"This is especially true with more frequent purchases, unlike in B2B where the purchase cycle is longer," she said. "It’s also important to take into consideration when comparing B2B and B2C emails that, typically, a higher proportion of B2B emails are follow-ups or ‘FYIs’ to a conversation that’s recently taken place – such as after a telephone call – which require no action from the recipient, hence the lower click rate."