B2B E-mail Open Rates Higher Than B2C

With spam reaching an all-time high, e-marketers are having a difficult time getting their messages read. But according to an Opt-in News study of U.S. publishers of HTML email, those distributing B2B (business-to-business) newsletters might have the most receptive viewing audience.

Results from the 2003 study indicate that newsletters targeting business professionals boasted a 71 percent open rate, compared to 41 percent of e-zines that are directed at consumers. The open rate for B2B increased 2 percentage points from a 2002 study, while B2C (business-to-consumer) decreased from 49 percent.

B2B direct email also fared better than the B2C counterpart: The open rate for a permission-based direct email campaign that targeted business professionals was 52 percent, and B2C trailed dismally at 32 percent. In 2002, B2C direct mail had an open rate of 46 percent.

Opt-in News determines the open rate by dividing the number of opened messages by the number of messages sent. HTML email allows e-marketers to track how many messages have been opened.

The highest open rate measured by Opt-in News was for B2B financial newsletters in Canada at 73 percent. Canadian B2B and Chinese B2C advertising-related emails followed with each having a 67 percent open rate. Unfortunately for e-tailers, U.S. consumer shopping newsletters had the lowest open rate – 14 percent rate – and the open rate for messages sent to U.S. IT professionals was less than half of that of their European counterparts.


B2B and B2C E-zine Comparison
Audience Interest Published Type Open Rate
Advertising U.S. B2B 44%
Advertising Canada B2B 67%
Advertising China B2C 67%
General Business U.S. B2C 31%
General Business Canada B2B 26%
General Business Europe B2B 51%
Consumer Shopping U.S. B2C 14%
Consumer Shopping Canada B2C 24%
Finance U.S. B2B 60%
Finance Canada B2B 73%
Finance U.S. B2C 37%
Finance Europe B2C 36%
Gaming U.S. B2C 24%
Gaming Canada B2C 18%
Gaming China B2C 55%
Gaming Europe B2C 45%
IT U.S. B2B 15%
IT Europe B2B 32%
Legal U.S. B2C 31%
Media U.S. B2C 23%
Media China B2C 42%
Sports U.S. B2C 17%
Travel U.S. B2C 21%
Source: Opt-in News

The decline in B2C open rates could be partially attributed to the influx of spam, causing email users to delete, rather than read. A collaborative study between InsightExpress and UNspam, LLC of 1,500 online consumers revealed that the amount of spam in American’s personal inboxes has grown 76 percent in the last 12 months, making the process of checking email a burden.

Spam has so infuriated email users that 75 percent would support a national “Do-Not-Spam” registry and 78 percent say they would sign up should such a registry become available.

Most troubling to Internet users is the amount of pornographic emails that assault their inboxes. Survey respondents indicated that 26 percent of the spam in their personal email accounts is considered pornographic, and 88 percent of parents are seriously concerned about their children receiving inappropriate email. As a result, nearly all (96 percent) of parents are interested in methods for blocking porn email from their children’s inboxes.

Survey participants believe that employers have a responsibility to protect their workforce from unsolicited pornographic email, with 62 percent indicating that porn spam can contribute to a hostile work environment. More than one-third (37 percent) of email enabled American workers admit to being distracted when they receive spam, and 45 percent say they would be more productive if they received less spam.

“While the survey reconfirms that spam is a nuisance for consumers, the emerging problem we’ve found is that unsolicited email creates real liability for businesses,” said Matthew Prince, CEO and co-founder of UNspam LLC.

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