DoubleClick: Open Rates Down, Conversion Up

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Though e-mail open rates fell for the fifth consecutive quarter, the medium's click-to-conversion rate and order rate rose, according to a DoubleClick E-Mail Solutions study released yesterday.


In its "Q2 2005 E-Mail Trend Report," DoubleClick, New York, found that open rates dropped from 36 percent in second-quarter 2004 to 27.5 percent in the second quarter of this year. Click-through rates also declined slightly from 7.7 percent last year to 7.2 percent for second-quarter 2005.


However, conversion remained strong for the retail and catalog marketers that track purchase activity through DoubleClick's DARTmail. The click-to-purchase conversion rate rose 27.8 percent to 4.6 percent in the second quarter while orders per e-mail delivered rose 18 percent to 0.26 percent.


"It seems as though marketers are getting smarter in all areas of e-mail marketing, including segmentation, targeting, subject lines, message relevancy, calls to action and re-marketing efforts, leading to an increase in the click-to-conversion rate," said Rob Bentley, senior analyst at DoubleClick E-Mail Solutions.


In other news, the average non-bounce rate reached an all-time high of 92.1 percent. The Retail and Catalog, Consumer Publisher and Business Publisher sectors had the lowest bounce rates in the quarter.


"The non-bounce rate is mainly a list hygiene issue, and marketers continue to get better with this by better managing bounces and unsubscribes [removing them from their files] as well as improving their list acquisition methods," Bentley said.


Despite a 14 percent drop in average order size from $93 in second-quarter 2004 to $80 this quarter, revenue generated per e-mail remained at 20 cents.


Image blocking by ISPs affected open rates, the report said. Because a one-pixel image must be rendered for an e-mail to be measured as open, image blocking has contributed to declining open rates. Also affecting open rates is the use of old e-mail addresses, which perform worse than new addresses.


Consumers also seem pickier about which e-mails they open.


"As consumers access e-mail more frequently, receive more e-mails and have better technologies to manage those e-mails, they will become more discerning in their open behavior," the report said.


DoubleClick has commissioned a study to look at the branding impact of e-mail marketing and explore how consumer behavior may be affecting open rates.


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