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care2team 4 min read

Open Rates Declined in 2005, Click-through Rates Remained Steady

An ExactTarget study based on data collected from over 4,000 organizations found strong evidence supporting audience segmentation in e-mail campaigns as e-mail open rates declined by a whopping 16.5% in 2005. The open rate during the fourth quarter of 2005 was 35.5%, a 7% drop from 2004. What explains this drop in e-mail open rates? Morgan Stewart, the report’s author, cites image blocking as the main culprit.

Despite the drop in open rates, e-mail click-through rates remained above 6% in 2005 and reached 6.6% during the fourth quarter, an increase of 0.6% over the 2004 fourth quarter rate. In addition, senders are generating more clicks with each tracked open email. According to Stewart, "organizations are doing a better job of designing their e-mails to drive click activity.” Stewart also found that subject lines have grown in importance because subscribers are using them to determine whether or not they will engage with an e-mail.

The study found an inverse relationship between list size and subscriber responsiveness: Open and click-through rates both decrease as list size increases. Audience segmentation is clearly supported by the report. Stewart found "the smaller the targeted audience, the better organizations can aim their message directly to their subscribers in their e-mail communications. This is a sure way to increase response to e-mail communications.”

ExactTarget’s study also had several other noteworthy findings. First, e-mails sent on Friday had the highest open rate of any day for 14 consecutive months. Despite the fact that Friday had the highest open rate, the majority of emails are still sent mid-week. In addition, although Sunday had comparatively low open rates, it had the highest average click-through rate. Sunday’s click-through rates ranged from 4.9% in June to 8.3% in October. This was explained in the ExactTarget study by changes in seasons and weather patterns that lead people to spend weekends outdoors and away form their computers during the summer. Although Sunday had the highest click-through rate, 96% of all e-mail campaigns are conducted Monday through Friday.

Sources: ExactTarget (Register for free to view the complete report), Chief Marketer, ExactTarget Press Release