E-mail Delivery Rates Up, Click Rates Mixed

The latest trend reports from Bigfoot Interactive and DoubleClick found that more messages are reaching their destination, but fewer are being read.

Bigfoot Interactive’s report, released today, shows overall delivery rates across major verticals remaining high, with the biggest cause of non-deliverables being invalid addresses. Increasing broadband adoption and decreasing user loyalty to mailbox providers is to blame for address abandonment, the report found.

“High delivery rates are often touted with little understanding of the underlying specifics surrounding non-deliverables,” said Al DiGuido, CEO of Bigfoot Interactive. “In today’s environment, marketers must work closely with email service providers to better understand bounces and to implement the necessary strategies and tactics to limit their occurrence.”

In a recent Bigfoot Interactive/Roper ASW study, more than 13 percent of all recipients with at least one email address indicated they have switched ISPs or mailbox providers in the past six months and 9 percent are considering switching in the next six months.

He pointed to ongoing education efforts on subscription pages, reminders in ongoing messaging efforts and one-click access to email preference pages as ways to encourage consumers to update their email addresses and customer profiles.

DoubleClick’s report, issued last week, shows bounce rates down by 25 percent over last year’s first quarter, to 8.3 percent overall. Click through rates are mixed in its study, with half of the verticals up and half down year-over-year.

DoubleClick’s report also includes open rates, which it finds to have declined in all categories year-over-year. The report attributes this to technological factors like the increase in ISP image blocking and filtering, which affects email analytics mechanisms. It also mentions growth of Web mailbox size limits, bulk mail filters and user-defined rules, all of which make it easier for an email message to get lost in a user’s inbox, or never reach it.

Other factors may include aging email lists, since newer names on a customer file tend to be more responsive. The report suggests marketers test different content, subject lines and offers to different profiles, so they may evaluate how response rates are indicative of customer value.

“We consistently see that our best-performing mailers are leveraging historical response data and all available customer profile data to target customer mailings to more relevant audiences and segments, while enhancing response and conversion data through more timely and relevant messages through dynamic personalization and event-based triggers,” said Kevin Mabley, senior director and general manager of strategic services at DoubleClick.

The verticals seeing the best open rates, DoubleClick found, were business products and services at 36.7 percent, financial services at 34.3 percent, and business publishing at 32.8 percent. The lowest open rates were found in retail and catalog at 26.1 percent, consumer services at 28.2 percent, and consumer publishing at 29.8 percent.

The highest delivery rates in DoubleClick’s report are in retail, at 93.8 percent, consumer publishing, at 93.3 percent, and business publishing, at 93.1 percent success rates. The lowest delivery rates were found in financial services at 88 percent, business products and services at 88.4 percent, and consumer products and services, both just over 90 percent.

Bigfoot’s study found the highest overall delivery rates to be from media editorial efforts, at 97.6 percent, and service messaging from financial services companies at 96.8 percent, followed by retail coming in between 94 and 95 percent.

Tops in click through rates, as measured by DoubleClick, were financial services and consumer publishing, both at 10.3 percent, followed by consumer products at 8.9 percent and travel at 8.4 percent. The lowest click through rates came in the retail and catalog vertical, at 6.4 percent, followed by business products and services at 7.1 percent and consumer services at 7.2 percent.

Bigfoot, for its part, found the top click-through rates in automotive, at 23.4 percent, and financial services, at 22.8 percent. Click rates in media and retail dropped from year to year, with media down to 11.6 percent from 16.5 percent, and retail down to 4.5 percent from 11.2 percent in the first quarter of 2004.

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