E-Commerce Firms Have Low Open Rates, New Industry Report Finds

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Online retailers get some bad news, especially amid the holiday shopping season: They have the lowest e-mail open rate in the industry at 17.2 percent, while healthcare and manufacturing companies boast the highest rates, according to a report released today.

After tracking 20 million e-mails sent in the quarter ending Nov. 20, e-mail marketing firm Bronto Software, Durham, NC, found that open rates were low for the e-commerce sector because business-to-consumer relationships typically involve transactions only.

"There is no ongoing relationship post-sale, versus a lot of BTB relationships that are ongoing relationships," said Chaz Felix, vice president at Bronto.

In Bronto's first quarterly Industry Statistics report, it found that healthcare and insurance e-mails garnered a 36.1 percent open rate and that manufacturing and distribution companies drew a 36.7 percent open rate.

The healthcare industry is effective at personalizing messages, providing content relevant to each user, Felix said. Also, healthcare e-mails often allow two-way communication, such as conducting a health survey, then giving e-mail subscribers results of the survey the next week.

Along with the Industry Statistics report, Bronto is starting an e-mail statistics site at bronto.com/stats to provide weekly updates on e-mail delivery, open and click-through rates.

"Instead of once a year or even once a quarter, people can see more frequently, 'How do I stack up versus my industry peers?' " Felix said.

This type of reporting typically is available only to certain e-mail marketing firms' clients. Because e-mail marketers need timely information, Bronto plans to up the weekly e-mail statistics to daily or real time in the future.

Meanwhile, Bronto's quarterly Industry Statistics report found that the average e-mail delivery rate across industries was 95.5 percent, and the average click-through rate was 5 percent.

E-commerce and publishing/media companies had the highest delivery rates at 97.8 percent and 97.1 percent, respectively. Publishers typically provide a link for every article in their e-newsletters, the report said. Publishers and media firms also place the most important content at the top of their e-mails.

Technology firms suffered the lowest delivery rates of 89.4 percent and lowest click-through rates of 2.7 percent.

"We speculated that the technology industry is on the cutting edge of using technologies," Felix said. "Corporate e-mail filters can be difficult to get through, using those."

To improve delivery rates, Felix said marketers should encourage subscribers to add the sender's e-mail address to their address books and cleanse their lists regularly, among other best practices.

Christine Blank covers online marketing and advertising, including e-mail marketing and paid search, for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters

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