March 20, 2006, 12:00 AM

E-mail open rates continue their slide, but click-throughs remain steady

E-mail open rates continued their steady decline in the fourth quarter of 2005, falling to 35.5% from 50.4% in Q1 ’04, ExactTarget reports. Click-through rates were 6.6% in Q4 ’05 vs. 6.0% in Q1 ’04.


E-mail open rates continued their steady decline in the fourth quarter of 2005, falling to 35.5% from 50.4% in Q1 ’04, e-mail services company ExactTarget reports. Click-through rates during that time have remained steady-6.6% in Q4 ’05 vs. 6.0% in Q1 ’04, the highest click-through rate. The lowest click-through was 5.9% in Q2 ‘04. Unsubscribe rates have fallen also, from 1% in Q1 ’04 to 0.2% in Q4 ’05.

On the bright side, ExactTarget reports that the number of links on which consumers click once they open the e-mail has gone up. ExactTarget reports that the ratio of opens-to-clicks, which is open rate divided by click-through rate and which declines as the click rate goes up, declined from 6.6 in the 1st quarter of 2005 to 5.4 in 4th quarter. "Organizations are doing a better job of designing their e-mails to drive click activity," says Morgan Stewart, director of strategic services at ExactTarget and author of the study. "The importance of sender and subject lines is increasing because subscribers are using them to determine if they are going to get engaged with an e-mail. Higher engagement means more clicks."

Several factors have merged to create the state of e-mail marketing today, ExactTarget says. “Two groups have helped stabilize click-through rates: late e-mail adopters and companies leveraging re-engagement strategies for consistent non-responders," Stewart says. "Late e-mail adopters have the advantage of established best practices in e-mail design that are more successful at getting subscribers to click-through. List fatigue also plays a role in the decline of open and click-through rates over time. Established senders can combat this by developing re-engagement and list cleansing strategies."



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