Study Finds E-Mail Click-Through Rates Dropping

While many online businesses are busy trying to figure out search engine optimization or effective page layout, many still heavily rely on good opt-in e-mail advertising to drum up business. Those who do use mailing lists may be interested in a new study that claims click-through rates are dropping precipitously.

Online marketers eROI, Inc. this week unveiled the results of its Q4 2005 e-mail study on deliverability. The eROI, Q4 ‘05 study breaks down by list size, which day is the best day for e-mail campaigns. The study indicates a 29 percent drop quarter over quarter in read rates, and a 21 percent drop in click rates in Q4 over Q3 2005. Additionally, the Q4 data shows a similar trend from the third quarter in that the noticeable high point in the week occurs on Friday for both reads and clicks. So, from this quarter eROI reaffirms that sending volume is inversely related to how reads and clicks react.

“With this shift in behavior we saw a 50 percent increase in e-mail volume,” said Ryan Buchanan, President and CEO of eROI. “This large of an increase brings e-mail fatigue and drops in read and click rates. While still an effective means for driving traffic to sites, marketers executing e-mail campaigns should take this into consideration when planning for end-of-the-year efforts.”

“For Q4 we do see similarities to last quarter with read and click rates generally declining as list size increases, but there are some major differences,” said Jeff Mills, eROI’s E-mail Analyst. “Read rates are much more erratic between 500 and 10,000 e-mails. Click rates see a more consistent behavior and do not decline in nearly as consistent of a pattern as last quarter. Volume for 250,000-plus lists takes a huge jump upward resulting in approximately 20 percent read rate. We believe this goes to show segmentation works and the general B2C marketer really needs to adopt more targeted mailing campaigns. B2B mailers are starting to adopt them more and more.”

According to eROI’s study, “Micro-Mailers” – those with less than 5,000 recipients – show read rates in excess of 40 percent and click rates between 7 and 11 percent — the best day being Friday with Thursday not far behind. This is the one list size segment that has increased read and click rates, demonstrating a loyalty to the brands and the messaging that is developed from these campaigns.

Small senders – with between 5,000 and 24,999 recipients – see some good Sunday statistics and consistent weekday numbers — 35 and 30 percent, respectively, according to the survey. There appears to be a Monday drop off in the Small Mailer segment and rebounding during the rest of the week. eROI says it sees this happening in the B2B markets and sees Monday fatigue fairly consistently setting in. Mid-size senders, 25,000-99,999, show wide swings in read and click behavior. Sunday and Tuesday are the most productive days with huge spikes in read and click rates on Sunday and higher numbers on Tuesday.

eROI says large senders – with 100,000-249,999 mailing list recipients – shows that Monday is a popular day to send, but not a good one if e-tailers want recipients to actually read or click on an e-mail. Friday appears to be the best day — with a 230 percent increase in read rates over the weekly average and a 214 percent premium from the rest of the week.

It was unclear whether eROI studied any types of “tricks” or effective formats e-tailers use when emailing customers or if the company sees e-tailers shifting strategies in order to make up for the lower click-through rates in the near future. The company did not respond to’s questions as of press time.

Devin Comiskey is the Managing Editor of

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