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Americans are suffering from "email fatigue." At least that's the take away from a new study from marketing service provider Implix, which found that Americans are one of the least likely groups to open emails worldwide.

Due to its newness, social media is fast gaining ground with marketers as a way to reach out and build relationships with consumers. But a turn away from email messages could also make social media the go to for marketers trying to reach customers and grow revenue.

According to Implix' new report, which analyzed 1,652,000,000 emails sent between July and December of last year, the average open rate in North America was 10.76%. In Europe, the rate was over 13%.

That means more than 40 out of every 100 recipients who opened an email message sent from Europe clicked on a link within it. But in North America, less than one out of every three recipients opened marketing emails and clicked on a link.

In Asia, one of every four subscribers who clicked on an email link did it twice. In North America, the rate is half that — only one out of eight clicked on a link twice. North America also had the highest bounce rate (2.17%) and the second highest complaint rate (0.12%) among all the continents.

According to Simon Grabowski, CEO of Implix:

"I believe that this is starting to become a large issue, especially in the U.S. It has to do with the amount of emails that we're getting every day."

Some of this has led to estimates that social media will replace email in a few years. Analyst firm Gartner recently issued several predictions for the coming years, including this one:

"By 2014, social networking services will replace e-mail as the primary vehicle for interpersonal communications for 20 percent of business users.”

Meanwhile, Facebook is planning to release an email product supposedly titled "Project Titan" that has some people very excited about its prospects to topple Gmail.

For now, social media is not as directly relevant to individuals as marketing emails specifically subscribed to by consumers. However, curating the social stream is a task many individuals and companies are setting their sights on. (Just today, The Wall Street Journal reported on a "Twitter-Killer" that Google may launch soon.)

But email's not dead yet. Grabowski says that personalized subject lines currently help increase open rates. Implix found 26% higher open rates for such emails. And that's the kind of thing that will continue to get consumers to open marketing messages via email:

"We're seeing a lot of movement to subscriber engagement tactics. 2010 is going to be all about engagement."

Both email and social media present opportunities to engagement with customers. Whichever platform manages that best in the next few years will see growth, or more likely, the trend to combine both efforts will continue.

Meghan Keane

Published 8 February, 2010 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

721 more posts from this author

Comments (4)

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Joe Smith

To reduce the bounce rate the marketers want to made a quality content and subject. It should not waste the recipients time.

over 6 years ago

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Sean Duffy

Just because the inbox gets crowded does not mean social media will benefit marketers more.

That would be based upon consumers actually allowing that to happen, which they don't. Social networks are sacred and you don't just let anyone in like your inbox and I don't see that changing.

Asked about preferred method for receiving marketing comms and email got 87% in a recent survey we will be publishing shortly. Social Media 3%, despite something like 80% of these people using social media on a daily basis.

Also I would suggest that looking at the quality of message (namely relevance) is the reason for a lower amount of clicks from those opening in the US - although higher frequencies will lead to less relevance. From experience the US tends to overdo the emails even more than here in Europe, although we are fast going down that horrid road.

over 6 years ago

Tim Watson

Tim Watson, Email Marketing Consultant at Zettasphere

The European law around email and the strict need for opt-in for B2C has worked to the benefit of the professional, best practice marketers.

In the USA the CAN-SPAM regulation does not require strict opt-in, its basis is opt-out. This means this has meant poor practice in ensuring relevance targeting and sending emails to people who actually want them.

This can well explain the lower rates in the USA.

All the same, the need for value and relevance still exists in the EU - there is plenty of room for improvement in most programmes.

over 6 years ago

Jay Chambers

Jay Chambers, Owner at Jaymail Email Marketing

Very interesting.

If anything, email use will continue to rise as it is more of a compliment to social as opposed to a true competitor.

I cannot see social becoming a viable business communication tool like email - i certainly would not tweet my client a report for example!

Jay Chambers

Owner @ Jaymail Email Marketing Agency

over 5 years ago

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