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During the time of COVID-19, we understand that you’ll want to keep up to date with developments in email marketing.

Over the last two months, we’ve noticed changes in behavior from previous years and made our findings available in our email marketing benchmarks report, the COVID-19 edition.

We want to provide information for email marketers that helps you build better campaign strategies for these unprecedented times.

Since the start of the pandemic, governments and businesses required individuals to shelter in place. This led to an increase in email communications from both marketers and organizations.

We noticed a definite spike in send rates for April, but March remained the same as previous years. Considering that March usually has similar send rates to that of late November and early December, this wasn’t too surprising to us.

Although it’s common for March to have high send levels, open rates were above average for 2020.

Source: Campaign Monitor

What do email open rates look like during COVID-19?

For email marketers, open rates are like gold. Good open rates are clear indications that your strategy is working and that subscribers want to receive your content. You’ll also want to keep track of other metrics, but healthy open rates are still the best measure of your campaign’s success.

What our research indicated was that, during the current COVID-19 lockdowns, more people were likely to open emails and receive updates from brands. In all, we noticed an average increase in open rates of 4.1% in March 2020 and 3.6% for April. For April, specifically, the average open rate was 21.2%. There were also increases in click-through rates and click-to-open percentages.

How to measure email open rates during COVID-19

In Campaign Monitor, you can easily track your open rates with our reporting tools. Although these figures are important, additional metrics can help you to improve your campaign strategies.

One of the measurements you need to consider is open rates on different days of the week. It seems Mondays and Fridays are the best days to send out your campaigns. Surprisingly, these days also showed that the lowest and highest send volumes could affect your open rates during the week.

Share of Send Volumes for March and April during COVID-19

Source: Campaign Monitor

Does it really matter?

Open rates are a clear indication that your marketing campaign is working. If you notice an increase, it shows that your list subscribers are placing value on your content and regularly consuming your marketing material.

A negative trend similarly shows that your recipients aren’t engaging with your content. If left as is, it could lead to a lower deliverability rate. At worst, that could doom your emails to the spam folder.

To improve your campaigns, you’ll need to focus on engagement. It requires you to review everything from how you construct your subject lines to the personalization, segmentation, and responsiveness of your campaigns.

To improve your campaign engagement, consider these elements:

  • Have you performed A/B testing on your next campaign?
  • Did you optimize your content for viewing on any type of device?
  • Are you sending emails too frequently or not enough to be memorable?
  • Does your campaign use a customer or subscriber journey to improve your engagement?

What our numbers indicate is that, even in this COVID-19 pandemic, subscribers still prefer email as a communication method.

What now?

Open rates during the time of COVID-19 rose due to recipients wanting to know what brands are up to during the pandemic.

Although you may notice a higher open rate now, you’ll still want to design campaigns that ensure future engagement. Email marketing (with improved convenience) is still the preferred method for consumers to receive updates from brands. If you use the right strategies, your brand will receive the open rates you’re hoping for.

Now that you understand how open rates were affected during COVID-19, you may benefit from checking out this post for coding and design guidelines when creating your campaigns.

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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