How Many of Your Brand’s Emails Are Actually Read As Opposed to Skimmed?

July 19, 2016

IBMMarketingCloud-Email-Engagement-by-Industry-in-2015-Jul2016Having an email be opened is one thing – and a challenge in its own right. But what happens next? Are emails typically read, skimmed or just glanced at? A new report [download page] from IBM Marketing Cloud examines such engagement metrics based on a review of campaigns sent by a subset of its clients.

Overall, the news is fairly positive. The analysis determined that a majority (53%) of emails are read, meaning that the recipient (presumably) looks at the message for at least 8 seconds. Some 22% are skimmed (looked at for 2-7 seconds), while the remaining 26% are glanced at (less than 2 seconds).

Predictably, these rates differ by geography and industry. The US hewed right on the average with 52% read, 22% skimmed and 26% glanced at. The highest “read” rate, of 61%, was found in Australia and New Zealand, as well as in European countries other than the UK (we’ll leave the Brexit talk for now).

On an industry-wide basis, the insurance industry scored the highest rate of read emails (63%), followed by automobiles and transportation (60%). Students are distracted, though, it seems: schools and education had the worst rate of all, at a lowly 43%. Moreover, the schools and education vertical had one of the highest average (mean) unsubscribe rates, of 0.2%, trailing only consumer products (0.208%).

While the mean unsubscribe rate was 0.127% for all brand messages sent in 2015 (see below methodology), there was a wide gulf between the top and bottom quartiles on this metric. In fact, bottom-quartile performers had unsubscribe rates nearly 4 times higher than the mean.

Translating those figures to some other figures, the report notes that improving the unsubscribe rate by just 0.1% for a list of 1 million people would result in more than 200,000 contacts retained over a year if sending 4 emails per week.

About the Data: The study data on unsubscribe rates comes from messages sent by nearly 750 IBM Marketing Cloud client companies representing 3,000 brands in 40 countries. Data for engagement metrics comes form IBM Marketing Cloud’s Email Insights solution and is based on a different population of clients than the rest of the study.

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