While the differences between Webmail properties such as Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, AOL and Hotmail may seem subtle, their user bases do not behave alike.
A study of success metrics for marketing e-mails sent through MailChimp’s distribution service showed that Gmail users were most likely to open and click on e-mails.
Open rates varied from a low of just over 20% for e-mail sent to AOL users to a high over nearly 31% among Gmail users. The click rate on e-mails sent to Gmail accounts was more than 7.4%, compared with rates between 4% and 5% for Yahoo!, AOL and Hotmail users.
Messages sent to Gmail accounts also had the lowest hard bounce rate, though other data indicates Gmail’s spam protection may be so stringent that messages disappear without producing a bounce. A 2009 Return Path study, for example, found a 23% nondelivery rate for marketing messages sent to Gmail. (For more information on nondelivery, see “Are You Deceived by Your E-Mail Delivery Rate?”)
According to comScore, Gmail is the third-most-popular e-mail property among US Internet users, though it posted the highest growth rate between July 2008 and July 2009. Unique visitors to the service rose 46% to nearly 37 million.
Yahoo! Mail and Windows Live Hotmail had significantly more visitors, at about 106 million and 47 million, respectively.
MailChimp suggests that demographic factors could be at work when it comes to the willingness of Gmail users to open and click on marketing e-mails, so the service’s continuing growth could bring its metrics closer to the average. But for now, the user base may be particularly friendly to e-mail marketing.
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