E-Mail Delivery Rates Climb in Q3

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Despite cluttered in-boxes and unforgiving spam filters, e-mail marketers saw improved delivery rates in the third quarter, according to DoubleClick's quarterly e-mail trends report released yesterday.

The report, culled from the more than 2 billion e-mails sent through DoubleClick's DARTmail platform, found delivery rates improved 1.7 percentage points to 88.2 percent in the quarter. Open rates held mostly steady at 37.1 percent. Click-through rates were up 8.2 percent to 9.2 percent.

DoubleClick attributed the solid performance in a tough environment to DARTmail customers following best practices and managing ISP relations well.

"Marketers and publishers are seeing a lot of stability in their e-mail performance," said Eric Kirby, DoubleClick's vice president and general manager of strategic services. "Companies are doing as well if not better than last year."

Another factor driving the improvement is better targeting of e-mail campaigns. "Companies are being more thoughtful as to how they mail, when they mail and whom they mail to," Kirby said.

This is a mixed development for DoubleClick, as it sent out 24 percent fewer e-mail messages in the quarter compared with a year ago. In its third-quarter conference call reporting earnings Oct. 16, CEO Kevin Ryan said spam fears, as well as better-targeted campaigns, had lowered volume.

Spam tops e-mail marketers' list of concerns. A Jupiter Research survey last month found deliverability issues the No. 1 concern for marketers, easily beating potential problems on the legislative front.

"Everybody's focused on the issue," Kirby said of deliverability. "If you don't pay a lot of attention to it and work at it, you're going to suffer."

Some categories performed better than others. Business publishers did the best, garnering a 93 percent delivery rate, followed by retail and catalog mailers at 91 percent.

Though they suffered slightly lower open rates, retailers had more reason to be upbeat. DoubleClick found revenue per e-mail was 26 cents, up 24 percent from a year earlier but down from last quarter's 30 cents. Average order size was $101, up 4 percent from last year.

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