July 9, 2014, 12:16 PM

Retailers lag behind health care and nonprofits on e-mail open rates

A Silverpop report also indicates that online marketers are doing a better job of cleaning up their e-mail lists.

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Consumers open e-mail from retailers less often than messages sent by education providers, health care institutions, nonprofits and other organization, suggests a new report from Silverpop.

The e-mail management technology provider, which is part of IBM Corp., says that retail achieved an average unique open rate of 20.9% in 2013. Silverpop defines a unique open rate as  “one open per recipient and is expressed as a percentage of the total number of delivered email messages.” Silverpop calculates the rate by dividing the number of unique opens by the total number of delivered e-mails, and then multiplies by 100 to get the percentage.

By comparison, unique open rates for other industries are:

• Health care, 26.2%

• Education, 25.7%

• Consumer services, 25.5%

• Nonprofits, 25.3%

• Real estate and construction, 23.1%

• Corporate services, 20.7%

• Media and publishing, 16.6%

• Travel and leisure, 15.0%

For click-through rates—that is, the percentage of sent e-mails that “drew at least one click”—retail achieved an average percentage of 3.4%. That’s ahead of such industries as financial services (3.3%), industrial manufacturing and services (3.2%) and consumer products (2.7%), but behind health care (4.8%), consumer services (4.7%) and nonprofits (4.2%).

The Silverpop study also measured “hard bounce rates”—“the percentage of sent messages that failed (bounced) because the address doesn’t exist or the account was closed.” For all industries, the global median hard bounce rate stood at 0.0377% in 2013, down 95% from the year before. The retail hard bounce rate stood at 0.0348% for 2013, though no year-before comparison was immediately available.

“While some e-mail experts might disagree, we believe the decrease in hard bounce rates signals that email marketers are taking list hygiene seriously,” the Silverpop report says. “We’re now seeing the fruits of their efforts to remove hard bounces more often and faster from their active databases, to keep bad addresses from getting into their databases and to keep a closer eye on factors that affect sender reputation.”

Silverpop bases it findings on messages sent by Silverpop’s client base. Researchers combined data from all messages sent by nearly 3,000 brands from 40 countries.

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