Study: Broken E-Mails Affect Response Rates

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Images that don't show up in recipients' e-mails are still a major problem for marketers, according to a study released yesterday by e-mail marketing provider Silverpop, Atlanta.


Forty percent of e-mails sent by 360 of the largest U.S. firms had missing graphics, virtually unchanged since Silverpop conducted the same study in 2002.


Instead of e-mail service providers having difficulty displaying HTML code, graphics are being blocked because some ESPs include software that blocks the images.


Google's Gmail, Microsoft Outlook 2003 and AOL 9.0. blocked most images in 2005 because their default setting blocks images from senders not in the recipient's address book or "friendly list."


But marketers could avoid many of the problems by reminding customers to add them to their address book, said Elaine O'Gorman, vice president of strategy at Silverpop.


"Despite the fact that there are broken images, they are still using single-image creatives and not asking to be put in [recipients'] address books," she said.


E-mail marketers also should include a link to view images on a Web version of the message and include text so users know what the images are and are more likely to click to view them.


Other findings:


* E-mail delivery rates have improved significantly. Though 25 percent of e-mails sent to Yahoo or MSN Hotmail accounts three years ago ended up in bulk folders, only 10 percent of messages received by those providers went to bulk inboxes in 2005.


* More e-mail marketers are using HTML format -- 69 percent in 2005 -- compared to 47 percent in 2002.


Marketers using HTML e-mails can provide a "richer product experience" for consumers, said Silverpop CEO Bill Nussey, but mis-rendered HTML messages can perform worse than text e-mails.


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