Deliverability is a key metric, and where engagement begins. However, ensuring that an email reaches its intended destination is only one factor that impacts engagement. At the request of our clients, Emarsys is taking a closer look at email benchmarks and trends across key industries, verticals, and countries. As always, our findings represent our analysis of more than 2,000 clients, in more than 100 countries, across more than 1 billion customer records.

Frequency, Segmentation, and Cadence Determine Engagement Rates

Looking closer at email engagement as shown in the table below, we can see that there is a huge spread across the best-performing clients in each vertical. Within e-commerce, the top 25% of clients have an open rate of 23.2%, whereas the bottom 25% of clients have an open rate of only 12.4% — almost half the rate! We see a strong correlation between the number of messages sent per month, per contact, and open rates: quite simply, the clients that send more messages have lower open rates per message on average. However, these clients have also received more total opens. They’re clearly driving greater engagement, but at the expense of individual campaign performance metrics. Understanding the right frequency and cadence is the key to long-term email engagement rates.

Email Engagement by Industry:

Greater Segmentation and Personalization Delivers Higher Click-Through RatesBased on the customer data Emarsys has obtained, our new AI-driven Deliverability Engagement Score allows us to predict, in real-time, the open and click rates for email before sending out a campaign. One of the most important elements is the Engagement Score, helping you better understand which customers are unlikely to engage with a campaign. Using this insight, you can segment these ‘risky’ email subscribers out of a given sending list, improving deliverability and total open rates. By using machine learning and AI, marketers can come to understand that there are some recipients to whom they should not send. Ultimately, the Deliverability Engagement Score reduces the amount of leg- and guess-work traditionally involved in engagement-based email segmentation.

We’re also seeing a big variance in click-through rates across industries and quartiles. As shown in the top quartile of click rates in the table above, E-commerce (3.26%), Retail (2.71%), Technology & Telecoms (3.45%), and Travel & Hospitality (2.97%) all share something in common. The more levels of segmentation a campaign has, the higher the click-through rate. Clients using one or fewer data fields in their campaign segmentation are more likely to be in the bottom quartile. For advice on best practices and techniques to improve your click-through rates, read our article “How to Measure the Success of Your Email Campaigns”.

Looking at other trends within those verticals, we can see that within Travel & Tourism what separates the bottom 25% of clients (0.821% average click rate) from the top 25% (2.97% average click rate) is the use of more complex segmentation and email personalization. Some of the strategies clients are using to drive up this key metric can be found in our “Live Email Content: The Next Revolution in Travel Marketing” whitepaper.

Opt-In Requirements Produce High Engagement, But Slow Email List Growth

As mentioned earlier, we are lucky to work with clients in more than 100 countries, and we have looked closely at the different regions we serve, both to better understand the differences in email engagement rates, and to learn from our international footprint.

As shown in the table below, we see some clear differences between the number of emails sent and engagement in Russia, Turkey, and Southeast Asia, versus markets like the US, the UK, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

Email Engagement by Territory (March 2017 Data):

We have seen a rise in daily email sending in markets such as Russia, Turkey, and Southeast Asia, and while total opens and clicks have increased for these clients, individual campaign performance has suffered drops in open and click rates and a rise in bounce rates. Again, marketers must get the balance of quantity versus quality as we’re seeing ISPs, including Outlook.com and Gmail, become much more aggressive with behavior-based filtering. This is in response to a marked drop in open rates for clutter markets (those with a large percentage of their list with Microsoft-owned and -operated domains and Outlook Mobile or Desktop Client users), with a high dependence on Hotmail and Outlook.An interesting theme is the connection between a nation’s opt-in laws and the engagement rates for email campaigns. Double opt-in is a mandatory requirement for whitelisting with major providers in DACH, which has led to much higher engagement rates. However, those engagement rates came at the expense of much slower list growth (as a percentage of database size).

Please give us feedback on what you’d like to see from us so we’re better equipped to deliver meaningful metrics from the huge amount of data we analyze. Whether it’s Customer Lifetime Value, Average Number of Purchases, Web versus Desktop, or First-Time Buyers versus Repeat Buyers, please help us understand how we can help you benchmark your results by reviewing the results that matter.