Report: Open Rates Falling, But Personalization Could Help

Twilio SendGrid’s 2019 Email Benchmark and Engagement Study reports a sharp decline in open rates from the 2018 edition of the study, but says users are more likely to open if the message feels meant for them.

As a new study on email marketing shows, what goes up must come down.

And two things that are going down globally are open rate and click-to-open rate.

And in aggregate, at least, it doesn’t look great: Open rates globally fell from 18 percent in 2018 to 14.5 percent in 2019, according to a new report from SendGrid, a subsidiary of Twilio, while the click-to-open rate fell from 11.1 percent to 10.9 percent. But one thing that did go up in the past year was the median number of monthly emails—from 7 to 8.3.

While that number might seem a little distressing, it could provide an opportunity to stand out in the right context, the 2019 Email Benchmark and Engagement Study states.

“By listening to recipients and learning about what they’d like to see in their inboxes, senders can craft and send more valuable emails that have a better chance of being opened and engaged with,” the report, which analyzed more than 100,000 senders, says.

A few things to look for when building an effective email, according to the study:

Personalization matters, especially for younger readers. According to the report, 26 percent of recipients in the U.S. said that personalization makes an email very memorable, while another 38 percent said that it made it somewhat memorable. “In interviews and in our mobile ethnography, many recipients suggested they would be more inclined to read emails they receive (and not delete or unsubscribe from them) if they were more personalized or relevant,” the report stated. These numbers tended to be stronger overall among Gen Z and millennial email readers. Other considerations to get people to open include a consistent sender line, which is something they look for regularly.

Different demographics have different comfort levels. While most people prefer not getting emails with animated GIF images baked in (with 55 percent of U.S. recipients saying they don’t want them in marketing messages), the view shifts for U.S.-based audiences who are in the millennial or Gen Z category; in both of those cases, 56 percent say they actually like the images. However, if you have an audience made up of older members, the desire might be far lower: 72 percent of baby boomers and 61 percent of Gen Xers say they don’t want emails with GIFs. Also showing a generation gap: emoji, which younger audiences don’t mind as much, but boomers and Gen Xers strongly dislike.

Some things about email drive recipients nuts. It’s not just the number of messages hitting inboxes that readers find frustrating—but the fact that they’re getting messages from senders they don’t know, and messages that they’re looking forward to are often getting forwarded to the spam folder. Also frustrating: if a message is irrelevant, seen as a turnoff by three quarters of U.S. recipients; if a message is sent by an unknown firm, which bugs 69 percent of recipients; and if the message has grammar or spelling errors, a problem for 60 percent of recipients.

(Dacian_G/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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