American Marketer


Email open rates up 4.2 percent: study

June 3, 2011

Chanel's emails can be read on mobile


Email open rates increased 4.2 percent in the first quarter of 2011, signifying that in the face of social media and new technology, email is still a successful channel for brands to reach customers.

Average volume per client increased 39.2 percent in the first quarter, compared to the year-ago period. Open rates were seemingly unaffected by this increase, proving that email marketing can continue to expand.

“Most of the industries that drove the overall increase in open rates saw a decline in total emails delivered year over year and therefore they were sending fewer emails but seeing higher open rates, so their program was likely more targeted,” said Jennifer Wiese, analytic consultant at Epsilon, Dallas.

Open Raise

In addition to finding increases in the open rates and volume per client, the study also found increases in numerous other areas of email marketing.

Click-to-conversion rates increased 26.5 percent compared to the same time last year, while click rates in general remained at about the same.

This holiday season saw an average volume per client increase of 39.2 percent compared to the same quarter of 2010, with 5.7 percent of the increase occurring in the last quarter.

Service messages had an open rate of 37.5 percent and click rates of 7.9 percent, proving most successful in all industries.

Open rates are extremely important as they often correlate with spending habits, per Epsilon.

There are ways marketers can increase this correlation as well.

“We recommend having a strong subject line that stands out in a consumer's inbox, coupled with a highly relevant offer to drive the click and purchase,” Ms. Weise said.

Epsilon based the study on 7.1 billion emails sent in January, February and March 2011 for approximately 140 clients across multiple industries, including retail apparel, travel/hospitality services, financial services and more.


The statistics prove that email marketing is still an influential way to reach consumers, so long as it has a direct strategy behind it.

“In order to get results and ensure that your message is being read, Epsilon recommends following email best practices and leveraging data to create relevance for the individual,” Ms. Weise said.

Such practices include using a relevant sender name to market your brand within an inbox, as well as creating targeted lists to segment consumers and provide relevant messages.

To ensure effective segmenting, brands should use preference centers and focus on previous customer behavior.

For increased success of email marketing, a brand must also integrate its strategy with the social media sites, per Epsilon.

“For instance, if your company has a special offer or promotion, be sure that your Web site prominently displays that offer and that you are promoting it through a variety of social channels, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as well as through your email campaigns,” Ms. Wiese said.

Final Take
Kayla Hutzler, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York