The open and click rates of advertising e-mails are dropping: What can retailers do about it?

The open and click rates of advertising e-mails are dropping: What can retailers do about it?
Published on: Mar 4, 2020
Updated: Aug 19, 2022

A study by Twilio, which analyzed more than 80,000 enterprise customers worldwide, found that retailers are sending more and more promotional emails. However, this does not mean that customers actually notice them. The study also shows this result: customers do not like to open and click on e-mails.

Advertising emails become more important - opening and click-through rates decline

According to the study, more emails (8.3 emails) were sent to customers in 2019 than the year before (7 emails). At the same time, both the open rate (from 18% in 2018 to 14.5% in 2019) and the click rate (from 2% in 2018 to 1.6% in 2019) decreased in the process.

Nevertheless, 97% of respondents see email as the most important channel for communication between companies and customers. What is crucial here: how often companies inform their customers about new offers, for example. Indeed, 37 percent of participants want to be informed about news on a daily basis. 32 percent, on the other hand, only once a week.

Companies that have already achieved a certain level of brand awareness have better chances with customers. Why? According to the survey, the most significant factor for opening e-mails is the reader's familiarity with the brand. In second place are content and relevance, such as a concise subject line and personalized recommendations. In addition, 85 percent of respondents would like to see images in the e-mails.

What really interests customers?

This is a question all companies should ask themselves. However, this only works if retailers really know their customers. Creating personas is therefore essential. "Who are my customers and what do they want?". These questions are hugely important in identifying the wants and needs of the target group. In this context, it is even more important to send personalized mailings to customers, especially in today's world, which is characterized by an abundance of offers and opportunities to store online. Customer data must therefore be analyzed and used in the best possible way.

How to increase open and click-through rates?

Online merchants should do and pay attention to a number of things in order to increase open as well as click-through rates. It is predominantly important that the customer is only sent information that is relevant and interesting to him. If you also use a concise and appealing subject line, you will get your customer to open the e-mail in the first place. Personalization is therefore in the foreground here.

Many retailers make a fatal mistake if they don't let their customers decide for themselves how often they want to receive emails. For this reason, a choice option is an absolute must-have.

Send emails achieve opening rates of up to 80 percent

However, not all e-commerce mailings are so unpopular. There is one particular form that many retailers don't even have on their radar, and therefore care about inadequately: The shipping message. Once the customer has placed his order in the online store, the eager wait for his package begins. In this phase of the customer journey, the customer wants to be informed in a particularly proactive and personalized way - and unfortunately, companies don't do that. They simply hand over shipping communication to logistics service providers such as DHL, DPD, Hermes & Co.

###Experience shipping messages in action!

And it shows in the numbers: shipping messages often achieve open rates of up to 80 percent. In addition, customers can be redirected to a Track & Trace page directly in the merchant's store. As a result, for example, at Lidl 85 percent of customers return to the webshop once again. Of course, "normal" promotional emails can't keep up with that. For more tips on what the right shipping communication should look like, check out here.

Shipping messages, such as those from IKEA, achieve open rates of up to 80 percent.


Customer communication via email is still the most popular contact method - both for retailers and their customers. The fact that open and click rates are falling is not infrequently due to emails being sent too often or the content simply not being relevant to customers. After all, "a lot helps a lot" does not always apply here. It is also important that customers are sent only the information that is most important to them, personalized as much as possible. So if you don't want to forego providing your customers with advertising, you can integrate it into your dispatch messages, because these are very likely to be opened by the customer. But beware: sending advertising is not permitted without the customer's prior consent.

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