Harte-Hanks: BTB E-Mail Response Rates Slide

Business-to-business e-mail response rates are falling steadily, according to the new “Building High Response E-Mail” study from Harte-Hanks Inc.

The company examined 2,626 permission-based e-mail campaigns — encompassing more than 17 million messages — focusing on BTB campaigns in the telecommunications and high-tech markets that were designed by clients and executed by Harte-Hanks from January 2002 to December 2003.

Average click-through response rates reached as high as 4.7 percent in early 2002 but only as high as 2.1 percent in late 2003 in the market research category. Rates of 2.8 percent and 2.4 percent were generated in the category, respectively, in the second half of 2002 and the first half of 2003.

Other e-mail campaign types didn't fare as well, including: the general marketing category, which generated a 1.3 percent rate in both halves of 2002, but fell to 0.6 percent in the first half of last year and 1 percent in the second half; sales promotion, which dropped from 1.6 percent to 0.8 percent in 2002, with rates of 1.4 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively, in the first and second halves of 2003; seminar invitations, which held steady at 1 percent throughout 2002, then fell to 0.8 percent in the first half of 2003 and 0.4 percent in the second half; and webinar invitations, which dropped from 1.1 percent in the first half of 2002 to 0.7 percent in the second half of the year, 0.4 percent in the first half of 2003 and 0.3 percent in the second half.

Harte-Hanks also conducted a quantitative survey of 438 business and technology managers from September 2003 to January 2004.

“Increased volume has led to increased clutter,” Randy Wussler, vice president of product development, market intelligence at Harte-Hanks, said in its release issued yesterday. “Our survey revealed that 48 percent say they are receiving too many unsolicited e-mails at home, and 31 percent said they are receiving too many unsolicited e-mails at work.”

However, 74 percent of business and technology manager respondents opted in to at least one e-mail list in the past 24 months. Of that total, 14 percent opted in to 10 or more lists, and 39 percent opted in for five to nine lists.

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