Email's Mixed Messages

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Even as email volume and engaged users' activity increase, open, clicks and purchase are down, according to new research.


Marketers love email. Volume has increased 9% year over year in their attempts to woo customers, according to Yesmail Interactive's “Email Marketing Compass,” based on analyses of email metrics from 25 billion emails sent from Q2 2013 through Q2 2014.

Customers, however, have mixed feelings. Unique clicks have decreased by 14% and the overall email open rate is down 3%. As email volume increases, so does recipients' selectivity with what they open. But engaged customers are undeterred by volume. Opens among active email subscribers have increased 6% year over year.

The incongruity doesn't end there. Mobile opens now account for 64.5% of email opens, but mobile clicks comprise only 35% of all email clicks. Even so, that represents a 9% year-over-year increase. Also on the rise is the average mobile click-to-open rate, which reached 9.3% in Q2 2014. There's room to grow here, considering that the desktop click-to-open rate is 22.6%.

The report's findings suggest that responsive email is one way to improve mobile clicks; in Q2 2014 the click-to-open rate for responsive emails was 13% higher than non-responsive emails. What's more the click-through rate for responsive emails is 12.5%, whereas non-responsive emails garner an 11.1% CTR.

Being “responsive” might also help reverse the decreasing average order value for purchases made on mobile devices, which dropped from $79 per order a year ago to $55; compare this to desktop average order values of $88 in Q3 2013 and $83 in Q2 2014. Reversing this trend is especially important considering that in Q2 2014 mobile purchases comprised 22% of all email-driven purchases, which represents a 40% year-over-year increase. Even though mobile purchases rose significantly, the associated revenue grew only 10%.

Adding to the mixed messages email marketing is delivering is the slowing increasing mobile conversion rate, which increased from 1.3% in Q3 2014 to 1.8% in Q2 2014. Desktop conversation rate, on the other hand, decreased from 3.7% to 2.7% in that same time frame.

One area seeing consistent success is triggered campaigns. According to the report, open rates for triggered campaigns are 2.5 times higher than for general campaigns. In Q2 2014 the open rate for all campaigns was 15.1%, versus 38.9% for triggered campaigns. Similarly, in Q2 2014 the unique click rate for all campaigns was only 1.7%, compared to 3.4% for triggered campaigns.

The implication of these finding is simple and go beyond the email itself, notes Michael Fisher, president of Yes Lifecycle Marketing: Deliver an experience that makes so easy for mobile customers to purchase on the fly that they'll happily purchase again.

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