Here’s another troublesome trend line to add to falling retention and acquisition rates — falling email read rates.

A worldwide study by email services provider Return Path looked at 400,000 email campaigns conducted in the 4th Qtr of 2012 and compared them to the prior year. Some data points:

  • Across all sectors, only 17% of email marketing messages were read.
  • Subscribers read 27% of the messages they received from the top 100 retailers in Q4-2012. [Brand familiarity does matter ... this probably applies in the nonprofit sector as well.]
  • Email from social networking senders was among the least-read, with an average read rate
    of 12% in 2011; that rate plunged by nearly half, to 6.3% last quarter 2012.
  • A bit of political trivia: the Obama campaign’s read rate was 8% higher than Romney’s.
  • Messages opened on webmail clients represented an ever smaller share, dipping to 20% at the end of the year. Says Return Path: For retailers the takeaway is clear: It’s do-or-die when it comes to implementing a mobile email strategy.

Check out this infographic:


Is there a message here regarding the importance of making your fundraising emails mobile-friendly?!

Unfortunately, fundraising messages were not one of the categories studied by Return Path, but I suspect someone like Blackbaud could provide similar comparative date on email open rates. And in any event, you should be tracking your own!!


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