NewBay and IDG Combat Trend of Email Click Fatigue


B2b marketers will need to find more innovative ways to reach customers through email as open and click rates continue to drop worldwide, according to MailerMailer’s "Email Marketing Metrics Report" from eMarketer (see charts below). Open rates for marketers’ emails have declined steadily from 14% in early 2007 to 11.2% in late 2009. However, the decline in click rate–users actually following a link from a marketer’s email–has been steeper with a drop from 2.6% to 1.6% just in the past year.

Joe Ferrick, VP of Web development at NewBay Media, says he’s noticed similar declines in his own markets, but started taking steps to counteract them about a year ago, the first being a redesign of all of their newsletters. "We knew that a large percentage of our audience receives multiple newsletters from us so we went with a fairly standardized template across all of our groups. The goal was uniformity in the look and feel," Ferrick says. He has found that simplicity works best for connecting with audiences. Ferrick’s team looked at each of the newsletters in their portfolio and, in most cases, streamlined each to six articles. "In reducing the number of articles we also made the move to only using headlines with no ‘teaser’ lines," he says.

The net result of these initiatives has been an increase of 10% or higher open rates on more than half of the redesigned newsletters. NewBay plans to continue building its lists with a "more comprehensive registration page" to launch later this summer. The page will gauge users’ preferences and present related newsletters to them.

Andrew Sambrook, general manager of IDG’s list services, cites a number of factors that can affect open and click rates in their IT markets, such as increasingly limited resources for IT professionals and less time. However, he maintains that "traditional product push is where you see the decline. When you look at solution-driven messaging–empowering the IT person to become more powerful within their company–you tend to get a better response."

Sambrook says IDG has been investing in content to maintain and build relationships with its audience. Also, simple user-friendly measures like replacing the branding bar at the top of a newsletter with more valued information have helped lead to the "increase in engagement percentage-wise" that they’ve measured across their database. Above all, Sambrook says, they are honing interactions to give users "complete control" as far as preferences. "The days of broad-based shotgun email have been gone for quite a while. Our goal at IDG is to send out less, but make what we send more compelling and relevant," Sambrook says.

Jessica Clegg