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My email opens and clicks have gone down, is this a bad thing?

Technology & Data

My email opens and clicks have gone down, is this a bad thing?


Email opens and clicks – easy to get, easy to measure and easy to understand. If they are down is it a bad thing? Well, according to Matt Laverty, there is no simple answer to this question. 

This article was sponsored by Taguchi to let readers know about its guide to marketing automation, ‘Expert Walkthrough: Data segmentation’ »

Open and click through rates will vary based on a number of factors including your industry and target audience. Our platform sends millions of emails a month, so we have scanned data from Taguchi’s system to calculate the average unique open rates and average unique click rates for a couple of industries to give you some context.

Across our retail clients, the average open rate for marketing email activity is 20.96% and the average click through is 2.50%. In the travel and transportation industry, the rates are 20.69% and 2.17% respectively.

Does that help? Does that mean one industry is doing it better than the other? No.

Open and click through rates also vary based on your contact strategy, and by adjusting segmentation and frequency it’s easy to boost them as high as you like. Instead of focusing on open and click, I would be looking at conversion, email ROI and overall engagement. 

In fact, I would suggest that your conversion rate should be viewed as the ultimate metric, and if you see a drop there you should investigate and work backwards. Don’t start with opens and clicks.

If you are sending more email than this time last year, for example, your open rates may have declined, and the conversion value per email sent may have also declined. However, those declines might not have counteracted the effect of the increase in volume, so overall you could be driving more conversions from email than previously. You really need to delve into the numbers and the detail here:

  • What is your predicted future engagement?
  • What are your predicted future conversions? 

If either or both of these are trending up, then overall you will be generating more revenue and driving more engagement through your increased contact frequency. That increase will come at the cost of efficiency per email sent, so continuing with this strategy means you will need to accept lower open rates and lower value per email.

If you play around with one area, take frequency, it will impact other parts of the business. It becomes a trade off. What’s the effect on the overall lifetime value of that customer? 

Testing will really help you here, because there is no one true answer, every company is different. Test and see what works for you. Test time of day, test a smaller audience, test your email frequency.

If you want to increase your open rates and/or value per email, there are two easy things you can do:

  1. Set frequency caps to limit your subscribers to receiving a set number of broadcast emails per week, which will increase the open rates of each of those emails, and
  2. adjust your segmentation approach to target the most engaged users more frequently. For example: if the top 10% of your database (as measured by historical engagement) had an open rate of 30%, while the next 10% had an open rate of 5%, and the remainder had an open rate below 1%, you could try targeting only the top 20% of your database for most of your weekly emails, and perhaps send to the full list once per week. This would reduce your email volume by 60% or more while more than doubling your open rates and value per email.

The trade-off between volume and margin should be a key component of your strategy and will be different for every business, so while we can’t tell you what trade-off is right for you, we can certainly assist with tactical advice to help you achieve your objective.

Contact Taguchi today to understand your customer lifetime value and how to efficiently track your conversions for campaign success.

Matt Laverty is professional services director at Taguchi

For more in-depth insight into dissecting marketing automation and deepening customer understanding, download Taguchi’s ‘Expert Walkthrough: Data Segmentation’ guide today »Taguchi WP data segmentation

Image credit:JESHOOTS.COM


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