E-Mail Marketing Trends Revealed: eMarketer

A new report by DoubleClick finds that some e-mail marketing metrics, like delivery rate, hit all time highs in the fourth quarter of 2004, while others declined.

March 18, 2005 NY — Delivery rates have gradually increased since 2002, while open rates have declined and click-through rates have wavered but generally held steady. At the end of 2004, delivery rates stood at 90.6%, up from 87.3% at the end of 2003. Open rates were down from 36.8% in 2003 to 32.6% in 2004. Click-through rates declined slightly, falling from 8.4% at the end of 2003 to 8.0% at year-end 2004.

A glance at open rates would give the impression that users are opening a lot less e-mails than they did one year ago. But DoubleClick feels that the reason for the decline is less about a change in the number of clicks than the effect of image blocking technology used by many e-mail programs. Since DoubleClick measures open rates by tracking image calls in HTML-formatted e-mails, image blocking obviously affects this metric.

However, the lowered rates may in fact be more representative of the truth, according to DoubleClick. Before image blocking, many e-mails may have registered as “opened” when they had merely shown up in an e-mail preview window as a user scrolled through e-mails or clicked on them before deleting. The relative stability of click and conversion rates supports this view.

Bounce rates fell to 9.4%, the lowest rate since DoubleClick began tracking the metric, indicating that companies have been increasingly successful in screening out bad e-mails and effectively collecting e-mail addresses. Although order sizes were lower, revenues per e-mail held steady at 26 cents.

What else can e-mail marketers do to ensure their message gets through and gets read? According to recent data from Return Path, most consumers check to see if they know and trust a sender. Almost 60% of respondents to Return Path’s survey cited that factor as influential, compared to 41.1% who opened e-mails because of a subject line or the 19% who had their attention grabbed by the preview window.

Companies using e-mail marketing need to be up to date on statistics like delivery, open and click-through rates, and on the opinions of the consumers they are marketing to. eMarketer’s E-Mail Marketing report, which will be released in April, is an excellent way to stay up to date. Sign up to be notified when it is available.

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