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Email Delivery Rates Increased to 95%, Open Rate Declined

Email open rates declined to an average of 17% last year, down from 26% in 2009, according to report by Harte-Hanks. The report examined metrics for over 2.8 billion email messages sent by about 100 companies in nine vertical in dustries.

The study indicates that:

  • Delivery rates increased to 95% last year, up from 93% in 2009
  • Click rates were steady at 3%
  • Unsubscribe rates dropped from 0.32% to 0.19%
  • Bounce rates declined from 7% to 5%
  • The pharmaceutical and government sectors had the highest open rates, with both topping 25%
  • The technology industry had the lowest open rate at just above 5%

In general, there was an improvement in bounce and unsubscribe rates from 2009 to 2010 as marketers improved the quality of their mailing lists.

The report notes, looking at nine industry sectors:

  • Overall delivery rates across all industry sectors averaged 95% for 2010, with both Retail and Travel/Hospitality performing the best at just above 98%. This is an increase of two percentage points over 2009 performance.
  • Open rates averaged 17% for 2010, down from a 2009 average of 26%, likely due to recipients’ continued hesitation to view images that would record the open action.
  • Click rates averaged 3% for 2010, flat from 2009. As competition for attention in the inbox continues to rise, marketers must pay close attention to their subject lines.

For all marketers, recipient response metrics are more important than ever. Engagement levels (usually thought of as a combination of open and click rates) have always been indicative of the success or failure of a program. Now engagement levels are becoming an important component in the delivery rate.

Sallie Burnett
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