The Content Strategist

How Do Your Email Engagement Rates Stack Up Against Your Competitors?

At this moment, 11 unread marketing emails are collecting dust in my personal inbox. GrubHub is trying to make me emotional about sharing holiday meals. (It’s working.) The Boston Red Sox want me to attend spring training. (Florida in March does sound lovely.) “Barack Obama” even sent an email about “fighting back.” (Yes we can?)

Of those 11, I opened about half, only clicking through on one. For brands, consumer apathy toward marketing emails has become a big challenge without a clear solution. Considering the sheer volume of these emails, it’s harder than ever to entice customer engagement that goes beyond simply opening a message.

To see how email effectiveness differs by industry, Yes Lifecycle Marketing, a Chicago-based marketing firm, analyzed 7 billion emails sent on its Yesmail360 platform during Q3 2016.

These figures give us a more nuanced understanding of which categories motivate consumers to click through and why. (Just to clarify, click-to-open rate is the percentage of opened emails that were clicked.) The industries highlighted in green represent areas that had disproportionately lower click-to-open rates.

Some of the figures are intuitive. Financial services, for instance, achieves by far the highest open rate at over 30 percent, which makes sense since emails likely pertain to important financial information such as account balances and fraud warnings. But these emails often don’t come with further calls to action, hence the large gap in engagement. This lack of a CTA helps explain the gap in the technology sector as well.

Emails related to hospitality/travel and retail/wholesale generate solid open rates because consumers can be genuinely interested in the advertising. (Tell me you wouldn’t peek at an email offering a trip to Hawaii or a Rolex.) But since these promoted products “are aspirational rather than frequent purchases,” consumers are more likely to window shop, as opposed to clicking through and splurging on the spot.

For brands looking to increase email engagement, it’s crucial to ensure messages “are relevant, timely, and personalized.” Follow up with price alerts and holiday deals for those subscribers reading about that Hawaiian vacation. Convert window shoppers into buyers by sending out emails on a Friday (the day of highest engagement) so that people will purchase on Saturday (the day of highest conversion.) With careful targeting and thoughtful timing, you can improve your open and CTO rates regardless of industry barriers.