E-mail marketers suffered a decline in response rates during the third quarter, according to data collected by DoubleClick.
The New York ad technology firm said marketers using its DARTmail e-mail service platform saw click-through rates fall 10.5 percent and open rates decline 7.5 percent in the quarter compared with the year-ago period. DoubleClick attributed the lower response rates to consumer fatigue brought on by too frequently sent, untargeted mailings.
“It's a significant drop,” said Kevin Mabley, director of strategic services at DoubleClick. “People are getting a bit desensitized to the regular mailings clients are sending.”
Mabley said DoubleClick clients that segmented e-mails based on customers' prior site and purchasing behavior saw much higher response rates.
“That's what separates the higher performers from the lower performers,” he said.
Despite the declining response rates, DoubleClick's report showed those who did respond were more likely to make purchases. The click-to-purchase rate for the quarter was 4.2 percent, up from 3.4 percent a year earlier.
DoubleClick reported that e-mail delivery rates rose, from 88.2 percent in third-quarter 2003 to 89.3 percent in this year's third quarter. DoubleClick defines delivered mail as e-mails sent minus those bounced by receiving domains.
Response rates fell in nearly all categories tracked by DoubleClick, from business-to-business to retail and catalog. Average click rates in the quarter were 8.2 percent, down from 9.2 percent a year ago. Average open rates were 34.3 percent, down from 37.1 percent.
Those suffering most included consumer products e-mail, which saw open rates fall 22.8 percent, and financial services, which had 14 percent lower open rates. Click rates declined most in retail and catalog, down 36.4 percent in the quarter to a rate of 5.6 percent.
The falling response rates were reflected in a 26.9 percent dip in revenue per e-mail delivered, which slid to 19 cents. The sales calculation also was hurt by an 11.9 percent decline in average order size.
DoubleClick's e-mail trend report is based on more than 2 billion e-mails sent on behalf of clients.