Pilot Your Way to Email Success with Q3 Industry Benchmarks

November 29, 2018 Jeffrey L. Cohen

Today may not be the day that you review your Q3 results. We are in the heart of Q4 where you are likely spending every waking moment thinking about how to optimize sales from emails and other marketing communications. And when I say optimize – just like your boss – I really mean increase.

Even though marketers sometimes consider the third quarter of the year as a “keep the lights on” time as they plan for the holiday season, we have been thinking about Q3. We have analyzed the email results of our North American clients and have once again published quarterly benchmarks so you can compare your own results to others. Reviewing your quarterly results to industry results helps you pilot your email program in the right direction.

We will still be right here with this email and mobile benchmark data when you catch your breath after the holidays and can look back over the year, and specifically Q3.

Email volume increased over last year

The first thing to know about this quarter compared to third quarter last year is that email volume rose 5%. This was mainly due to a huge rise in volume – over 23% – from emailers in the media space, which includes both publishers and entertainment brands. The other industries were within 5% of last year’s volume – some higher and some lower.

One potential reason for the decrease of volume in certain industries, mainly travel and services, was because of an increase in the implementation of reactivation programs. These programs remove inactive recipients, which increases overall engagement, but decreases volume.

Opens, clicks, and revenue metrics up 

Both total open rates and unique open rates increased nearly one percent to 29.9% and 19.2%, respectively. This increase is sizable, especially when you consider that volume across all industries rose 5%.

While the open rates nudged up slightly, click rates had large increases. Total clicks increased 20.4% to 3.8% when compared to last year. The more important unique click rate also increased a sizable amount. It was up 7.4% to 2.3%.

The context of these numbers is always important. When we compare revenue per email of Q3 this year to Q3 2017 we see an increase from $0.05 to $0.06. This increase is less important as a real number, as revenue per email has held steady for all of 2018 at six cents per email. The other thing to consider is how one cent can multiply across all the emails that you send to become a sizable increase in revenue.

Changes to quarterly benchmark report

We have revised our industry categories to better represent the brands we serve and to better align with the way they identify. All historical benchmarks used in the report for comparisons (Q1 2017 through Q2 2018) have been updated to reflect this new organization of brands and industries. Here are the revised categories:

  • Finance: Banking, lending, credit card services, and any financial related business
  • Media: Publishing and entertainment brands

  • Retail: Retail brands, with or without physical locations

  • Service: Insurance, phone companies, and any brand with a primarily service focus

  • Travel: Hotels, airlines, cruise lines, travel agencies, and car rentals

  • All Industries: This includes brands in the above verticals, plus a few other brands that do not fit into these categories.

Go ahead and download the Q3 2018 Email and Mobile Benchmark Report today to compare your third quarter results to other emailers and others in your industry once the holiday pixie dust settles. It will help you pilot your email program to success just like a certain jolly old elf who completes a round-the-world journey in one night.

About the Author

Jeffrey L. Cohen

Jeffrey L. Cohen is the director of content strategy at Cheetah Digital, where he creates entertaining and educational thought leadership content to grow the brand. He’s an award-winning marketer, strategist, and author (The B2B Social Media Book) with a 25-plus year marketing career.

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