Email Engagement Rates of the Most Trusted Domains: How Do You Compare?

Posted by Margarita Golod 

Which top level domains (TLDs) are the most trusted and have the highest subscriber engagement? How does an email from a .com compare to an email from a .net, .edu, and .org? From which TLDs do consumers delete email without reading the most?

We analyzed over 3 million email campaigns sent to users of OtherInbox and calculated an engagement score for the most popular TLDs. The engagement score is based on deliverability metrics such as Spam rate as well as new engagement metrics such as Read rate, Delete Unread Rate, and so on.  The engagement score ranges from 1 (poor engagement) to 5 (excellent engagement). The results of the analysis are shown in the table below.

Top Level Domain Engagement Benchmark Read Rate Delete w/o Reading Rate ISP Spam Rate User Marked  Spam Rate
.ca 3.6 22% 10% 23% 0.19%
.edu 3.6 22% 10% 23% 0.38%
.us 3 15% 9% 38% 0.30%
.org 3 15% 9% 38% 0.18%
.tv 3 15% 9% 27% 0.15%
.uk 2.8 14% 6% 45% 0.14%
.de 2.9 13% 9% 46% 0.20%
.es 2.5 11% 7% 49% 0.25%
.net 2.3 10% 6% 56% 0.16%
.biz 2.5 9% 9% 40% 0.13%
.com 2.1 8% 6% 52% 0.11%
.fr 1.9 6% 5% 67% 0.28%
.br 1.9 6% 7% 40% 0.06%


.CA and .EDU received the highest Engagement score. These two TLDs have very high Read Rates, almost 3 times higher than the .com domain. It’s important to note that Read rate is a more accurate metric than “open rate” because we are not dependant on a pixel firing when images have been turned on to capture opens. Instead, with our direct access to consumer mailboxes through OtherInbox, we are able to track when an email has been marked as read by the email client, even if it’s a text-only email. One surprising element of this data is that the “Delete without reading rate” is the highest for the two most trusted TLDs (.ca and .edu). This could be explained by their very low Spam Rates which indicate that more volume of email is getting into the inbox, so as people clean out their inbox, the delete without reading rate increases.

Not surprisingly we see a wide range of engagement with .com domains. While on average, the engagement level is lower than that of other domains, if marketers abuse permissions and their subscribers, they are more likely to be marked as spam and have low engagement. However, if marketers have good email marketing programs which follow best practices, they will have higher engagement. This data may imply that if you are a new business without a huge brand name, your engagement and read rates might be lower if you only send out email from .com email addresses as you try to gain traction. An alternative could be to register your business with several top level domains and use a more engaging domain to send out email. For example, sending email from a .net could improve your read rate by 15%. Of course there might be a brand impact that you would have to consider.

This data also has implications for email marketers who work in multinational businesses. If your business operates internationally, it may makes sense to send international email from top level domains that have higher engagement and higher read rates such as .ca, .uk, .de, .es than to send all of your email from a .com. Alternatively if you have locations in Brazil and France, you might want to send out your email from your .com domain for better performance.

Does this data resonate with you? Do you test TLDs as part of your email marketing strategy? What do you think is the root cause of the variance in engagement of these top level domains? Do end users pay attention to only TLDs or is something else driving the engagement? We’d love to hear from you. Please leave your comments below.

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