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DM News’ Essential Guide to E-Mail Marketing: E-Mail Open, Click Rates Slow Their Slide

If you track e-mail statistics, you probably felt a twinge as you watched performance rates fall in the second half of 2004. However, a recent permission-based e-mail marketing report reveals that campaigns sent in the first six months of this year earned comparable open and click rates as campaigns sent in the latter half of 2004.

As an e-mail list management service provider, we regularly collect and analyze aggregate industry data from our customers’ campaign results. Our data for the first half of 2005 suggest we all may be able to breathe a collective sigh of relief.

Our previous report compared metrics from campaigns sent in the first six months of 2004 with those sent in the second half. It showed that the average unique open rate for all e-mails fell from 26.66 percent to 22.92 percent. This likely resulted from releases of e-mail programs such as AOL 9.0, Google’s Gmail and Outlook 2003, which set the “image download” function to off by default.

When the images are prevented from downloading automatically, the embedded graphic in an HTML message cannot report back and record that the e-mail was opened. Many professionals welcomed this change because it results in more accurate statistics by minimizing reports from unintentional openings in e-mail preview panes.

But in our recent analysis of 150 million opt-in e-mails sent by a sampling of more than 2,500 of our customers, open and click rates did not decline appreciably in the first half of this year. The unique open rate for e-mails sent by all industries was 21.77 percent, a slight decline from 22.92 percent for campaigns sent in the latter half of 2004. The average click-through rate for e-mails sent by all industries was 3.59 percent, compared with 3.64 percent for those sent in the last six months of 2004.

In the first half of 2005, governmental agencies, banking institutions and religious organizations earned the highest open rates. Subscribers were more likely to click on e-mail campaigns sent by governmental agencies, banking institutions and computer companies.

Recipients were most likely to open e-mails sent on Saturdays (25.8 percent), Sundays (25.1 percent) and Mondays (24.7 percent) compared with an average of 21.8 percent for all days. E-mail campaigns sent on Sundays (4.86 percent), Mondays (4.46 percent) and Tuesdays (4.16 percent) earned higher click rates than the average, which was 3.59 percent.

Click rates for e-mails that personalized both the subject line and the message increased to 6.89 percent, compared with 3.59 percent for all messages. In addition, e-mails with more than 20 links earned click rates of 6.87 percent, far above the average of 3.59 percent for all messages.

Tips to Boost E-Mail Marketing ROI

· Always follow e-mail best practices and legislation.

· Use a double-opt-in signup process.

· Send relevant, well-written information regularly, but not too frequently.

· Ensure that subscribers recognize your “From” address.

· Never use misleading or deceptive subject lines.

· Segment your list and send personalized, targeted e-mail messages.

· Include multiple links to supplementary articles and information.

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