When Apple launched the Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) in September 2021, marketers were unsure of the new mail client’s impact on email marketing. As you can read in the latest Litmus’ Email Engagement Trends report, the effect is already conspicuous one year after MPP’s launch.  

The email marketing landscape is tipped to tilt further, and in this guide, we’ll put your fingers on the pulse of changing email engagement. We’ll dissect the Litmus Email Engagement Trends report and discuss four trends that could force you to change how you go about email marketing.  

1. Use of Dark Mode is Gaining Popularity

Dark mode is cool, sleek, and elegant — and it’s no surprise it’s gradually becoming table stakes in app design. More and more users are falling for the dramatic new look, and now, many subscribers prefer their email clients in dark mode. 

Proponents of dark mode claim that it improves user experience in a way never seen before. It helps cut the menace of blue light, thus mitigating the disruption to the reader’s circadian rhythm. 

According to the Litmus report, the number of subscribers using dark mode has increased by 6% in the last year. While this isn’t an eye-popping leap, it signifies the direction marketers need to take. If you’ve not added the dark mode experience to your email strategy, the time is right to do so. 

However, it would be best if you relied on first-party data to determine precisely what percentage of your audience prefer dark mode or white mode to decide how best to incorporate a dark mode experience without impacting email engagement. 

2. The Declining Read Rate

The amount of time a user spends reading your email is critical to the success of your email campaign. If the read time is high, it means the email resonates with the reader, and that can spur your campaigns to hit predefined goals.

However, Litmus’s study has shown that email read time is on a downhill trend. The read time has dropped from 13.4 seconds in 2018 to 9 seconds in 2022 — representing a 4.4-second drop. Those numbers represent averages, and what you get in your campaigns may differ.

Even so, it’s good to take note of this trend and devise ways to avert the consequences should the dwindling read time hit your campaigns. Here, data will come in handy. Study the performance of your campaign to pinpoint what could be causing the drop in read time and poor performance overall. 

For example, if the read time is high, but the click-to-open rates remain low, the CTA could be the stumbling block. Spruce up the CTA copy and ensure it nudges the reader to take the desired action. Besides that, continue writing captivating headlines and great email copy. Where possible, keep your message short to maximize the chance of conveying critical information to your readers, and make sure your CTA or priority links are shared at the top half of the email. 

3. Best Times to Send Email Vary Across Regions

Brands bombard the average person with many emails per day, and so when sending out emails, you’re competing with other businesses for the attention of your subscriber. To win the game, you have to send the email at a suitable day and time when the subscriber is ready to open emails. Otherwise, your email will be part of the inbox clutter and may fall to the bottom of the pile, never to be read.

The most popular open time varies across regions, meaning that your best time to send an email depends on where your audience is based. If you’re targeting an audience in the U.S.:

  • 11.00 a.m. EST is likely to give you the highest open rates.
  • 10.00 a.m. is the second most popular time to send emails.

Keep in mind that the best email send time keeps changing. For this reason, keep checking your metrics to better understand when your audience is most likely to open emails. Doing so will help you figure out the preferred send times for each email list segment

4. Engagement Tends to Peak at the Tail End of the Year

Besides determining the best send time, you also need to understand which months your audience will likely engage with your email. This can help you make an informed decision when sending out different email campaigns: acquisition, retention, promotional, or transactional

The Litmus report shows that email engagement peaks in the last quarter of the year. This is probably because October, November, and December are the busiest months for holiday email marketing. April and May recorded the lowest engagement rate.

Again, these are averages, and it’s always wise to leverage your own data to decide when subscribers are more or less likely to engage.  

Chart your Own Email Engagement Course

Numbers don’t lie. The Litmus Email Engagement Trends report shows some helpful averages which provide valuable insight, but one thing remains true: the email engagement landscape is changing. You have to be willing to change and adapt your own marketing strategy to set yourself on a course to success amidst the new trends. Ultimately, use your own data to guide your path, but pay attention to reports like these as well.