Brands continue sending more and more emails, according to the latest quarterly email benchmark report from Experian Marketing Services, which details a 12.7% year-over-year increase in brands’ email volume during Q3. That’s the third consecutive quarter of double-digit increases, with each quarter also registering an uptick in open rates. Meanwhile, further data from Experian indicates that so far this holiday season, weekend emails are getting the job done.
Experian notes that during the first 8 weeks of the holiday season (Q4 in this case), two-thirds of brands sent promotional mailings on the weekend, including 81% of multi-channel retailers. During the period, promotional emails sent on the weekend averaged 8% higher unique open rates (16.3% vs. 15%) while also seeing 36% higher transaction rates (0.06% vs. 0.04%) and 38% higher revenues per email ($0.09 vs. $0.06).
Although the results are confined to the first half or so of Q4, they’re interesting to consider alongside other research on the topic. While the body of research suggests that emails sent during off-peak hours generate more opens, there’s much less consistency in the data when it comes to the weekend/weekday comparison. For example, while Experian found that response rates were better on the weekend during the fourth quarter of last year, data from MailerMailer covering 2012 as a whole found open rates to be lower on the weekend, while click rates were higher.
It’s possible that emails perform better on the weekend during the holiday season – Experian theorizes that it may be tied to consumers spending more time shopping on the weekend. Fewer emails in the inbox might also count. Nevertheless, as Experian recommends, it’s worthwhile for marketers to test weekend mailings to see if they prove beneficial.
Returning to the Q3 data, Experian notes that aside from an increase in email volume:
- Total open rate for Q3 2013 was 23.4%, an improvement from 22.5% the prior year;
- Unique open rate also improved, from 15.7% to 16.6%;
- Click-to-open rate dropped, though, from 15.1% to 13.5%;
- Total click rate (-0.5% points to 3.3%) and unique click rate (-0.4% points to 2.3%) both declined;
- Transaction-to-click (4.1%) and transaction rate (0.07%) were both down;
- Revenue per email ($0.09) fell by 3 cents on average; and
- Average order value ($171.22), bounce rates (1.9%), and unsubscribe rates (0.13%) all improved.
The Q3 report also spotlights transactional emails, noting the potential for cross-selling in transactional mailings: order confirmation, shipping confirmation and return confirmation emails that contained cross-sell sections each boasted transaction rates higher than comparable emails without those sections.