Average e-mail click-through rates dropped 0.1% in the fourth quarter of 2008 from the third to 5.8%, the lowest ever recorded, according to a study released today by Epsilon. [...]
They are down from 6.1% in 2007 and 6.5% in 2006, according to the marketing services provider. [...]
According to the study, average open rates increased for the third quarter in a row to 20.9%, up almost 6% from the fourth quarter of last year.
The real factoid that jumped out at me about this is that it clearly demonstrates what a useless metric “open rate” is. As more and more people are, supposedly, reading commercial bulk email fewer and fewer of them are actually clicking on links.
What does this tell us? It tells us that open rate is not a way to tell you anything useful about an email campaign. If a sender can get more people looking at a particular email, and fewer people actually following through on the call to action, then clearly the problem is not that no one is seeing the email. There are lots of reasons why the clickthroughs might be decreasing, but it seems clear from the Epsilon study that simply getting more eyeballs will not fix anything.
Can we now stop using “open rate” to measure anything relevant?