Super Bowl 2017 Email Report: It’s a Touchdown for Read-Lengths

Super Bowl Sunday is one of the biggest advertising days of the year, with companies of all sizes offering limited-time promotions. We don’t typically think of the Super Bowl as an email marketing opportunity, but perhaps we should.

We took a look at email activity before, during and after this year’s Super Bowl weekend (2/2-2/6) and compared it to 2016’s Super Bowl numbers.

We learned that open rates remained steady as ever, while read-lengths saw a sizable boost.

Keep reading to learn more about our 2017 Super Bowl email report.

Smartphone opens during the Super Bowl remained steady

Smartphone opens remained largely the same, while desktop opens decreased slightly. Overall, 2017’s opens by device were very similar to 2016’s numbers.

Opens by device: 2017

Smartphone: 55%
Desktop: 29%
Tablet: 16%

Open by device: 2016

Smartphone: 54%
Desktop: 31%
Tablet: 15%

People were engaged in the big game… AND email

Typically, open rates on smartphones are always higher on the weekends, when people are away from their desktop computers. Smartphone opens on Super Bowl Sunday (2/5) 2017 were 56% versus 58% (2/7) in 2016. It’s a slight decrease, but it still indicates that people remain engaged with email on their smartphones even during a big event.

Opens by date: 2017

Device        2/2/17       2/3/17       2/4/17       2/5/17       2/6/17
Smartphone        53%       55%       57%       56%       54%
Desktop       31%       29%       25%       25%       31%
Tablet       16%       16%       18%       19%       15%


Opens by date 2016

Device       2/4/16       2/5/16       2/6/16       2/7/16       2/8/16
Smartphone       52%       53%       58%       58%       51%
Desktop       34%       32%       25%       24%       36%
Tablet       14%       15%       17%       18%       13%

More time was spent reading email in 2017

The biggest difference in Super Bowl email activity in 2017? Read rates jumped up by about 8%. In 2016 read rates at 15+ seconds on Super Bowl Sunday were 40%, and this year they reached 48%.

This could indicate that in 2017, more brands are delivering more compelling emails that are worth consumers’ time. After all, the content must be pretty darn engaging if it’s worthy of diverting their attention from the biggest game of the year.

Super bowl email read lengths by date: 2016

Date       0-3 Seconds       3-15 Seconds       15+ Seconds
2/2/17      27%       24%       49%
2/3/17       28%       24%       48%
2/4/17       28%       23%       49%
2/5/17*       29%       23%       48%
2/6/17       27%       24%       49%

* = Superbowl Sunday


Super bowl email read lengths by date: 2016

Date       0-3 Seconds       3-15 Seconds       15+ Seconds
2/4/16       35%       25%       40%
2/5/16       34%       25%       41%
2/6/16       33%       25%      42%
2/7/16*       36%       24%      40%
2/8/16       36%        25%       39%

* = Superbowl Sunday

Opportunities for email marketers

What does all of this mean for you? Steady open rates on smartphones means that device targeting is a must, and optimizing for mobile needs to be part of your email plan.

If you’re considering sending an email over the weekend when smartphone opens are highest, your message should be brief and clever, and your call-to-action should be bold. Remember that folks are out and about during their days off, so it’s your job as a marketer to reel in their attention with an offer they can’t refuse.

Next, knowing that read rates were high during Super Bowl Sunday, you may want to experiment with email marketing during other holidays and other big events. A few suggestions: Valentine’s Day, the Oscars, St. Patrick’s Day and Baseball Opening Day are all on the horizon. They’re not your typical marketing holidays, but they give you an excuse to reach out to your subscribers.

Whichever opportunities you choose, be sure to always run tests if you’re trying something new. If you’re interested in taking contextual marketing for a spin, check out our eBook: Everything You Need to Know About Contextual Marketing.