Epsilon: E-mail open rates steady, but inboxes increasingly cluttered

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Consumer e-mail open rates are holding steady, but there are hints that inbox clutter is taking its toll as marketers increase their e-mail volume, according to an analysis of e-mail marketing trends by Epsilon, a marketing services provider, and the Direct Marketing Association's Email Experience Council.

Open rates held firm at 22.1% during the second quarter of the year, with six of the 13 industries tracked reporting improvement over the same time last year.

E-mail open rates did show an 18% increase from the same period in 2008, according to Epsilon's North America Email Trends and Benchmarks Results. The report tracked 5.6 billion e-mails sent by the marketing firm from April through June for approximately 160 of its clients.

However, the click rate for e-mail messages was 5.3%, down from the same period of last year. Coupled with a 10.5% increase in e-mail volume, those numbers indicate that marketers need to break through the inbox clutter, according to the study's authors.

More than six in 10 e-mails sent were marketing messages, but the study's authors suggested that editorial or service communications could also be used for brand-building opportunities when marketers send targeted messages and offers. The study showed that service messages had the highest open and click rates, at 42.5% and 7.7%, respectively.

“It is more important than ever to break through the clutter and compel customers to open and click on links in your messages,” said Kevin Mabley, SVP of strategic and analytical consulting at Epsilon. “Consumers are much more likely to open messages that contain relevant content based on their past behavior and preferences.”

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