Corporate Eye

Email Marketing Keeps on Growing with Coupons Taking Center Stage

email marketing list segmentationEmail marketing continues to grow with no signs of slowing down. According to the 2013 Q4 Email Benchmark Report released by Experian Marketing Services, email volume increased by 11.2% year-over-year during the fourth quarter of 2013, nearly doubling the 5.2% year over-year growth rate recorded during the fourth quarter of 2012.

The fourth quarter 2013 email marketing growth rates marked the fourth consecutive quarter that brand marketing email volume and open rates increased. Following is the year-over-year data collected by Experian about open rates, click rates, and more:

  • Total Open Rate: 24% (up from 23.6% a year earlier)
  • Unique Open Rate: 16.4% (up from 16.3% the prior year)
  • Total Click Rate: 2.9% (down from 3.5% the year before)
  • Unique Click Rate: 2.1% (down from 2.9% in the previous year)
  • Click-to-Open Rate: 12.5% (down from 14.4% a year earlier)

Looking at transactional data, Experian found that results were slightly down. Revenue per email in the fourth quarter of 2013 was tracked at $0.10, which was a decline from the $0.14 tracked in the prior year. Similarly, the transaction rate was reported at 0.08% and the transaction-to-click rate came in at 4.6%—both were down from the prior year. At the same time, bounce rates came in at 2.2% and unsubscribe rates were tracked at 0.12%—both slightly better than the previous year. Finally, average order value stayed the same year-over-year at $179.33.

In a special section of the Experian report, there is a detailed analysis of the performance of coupons in email marketing for the fourth quarter of 2013. Experian found that coupons performed better year-over-year across the board. Here are the key findings:

  • Unique Open Rate: up 14% year-over-year
  • Unique Click Rate: up 34% year-over-year
  • Transaction Rate: up 27% year-over-year
  • Revenue per Email: up 48% year-over-year

Comparing email marketing messages that included coupons that could be redeemed in-store, online, or both, you might be surprised to learn that in-store only coupons had the highest unique click rate of 3.3% (1.8% for online-only and 2.7% for online or in-store). Interestingly, most email marketing messages sent by the brands tracked in this study included in-store only coupons (80%). Only 70% offered online redemption of any kind.

The report shows that some email marketers are actually catching on to the importance of mobile. More than one out of five brands included in the coupon study (21%) enabled consumers to redeem their coupons by showing their mobile devices to an employee while they were in-store. This is a number that should grow very quickly in the near future. Unfortunately, it might not grow as quickly as it should since many brands are still not giving mobile the attention and budget it needs. What do you think?

Image: Ilker

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.