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DoubleClick releases Q3 e-mail trend report

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By Carol Krol

New York—E-mail conversion rates and purchases increased in the third quarter, according to DoubleClick’s "Q3 2004 E-mail Trend Report." But the report, released Monday, also showed that revenue per e-mail and order size both declined.

"There’s a mixed story," said Kevin Mabley, senior director of strategic services at DoubleClick.

The click-to-purchase conversion rate and number of orders per e-mail both increased in the third quarter compared with the same period last year. The conversion rate rose 0.8 percentage points to 4.2%. Orders increased 0.04 percentage points to 0.28%.

Revenue per e-mail sank to21 cents, a decline of 6.9% from last year’s third quarter. The median order size dropped 6.9% to $94.

Deliverability continues to slowly improve. Average delivery rate, which is the number of e-mails sent minus bounces, grew 1.2%, or 1.1 percentage points, to 89.3%.

DoubleClick said that as the e-mail medium matures, recipients are less likely to click on promotional e-mails. "We see a negative trend in open and click rates," Mabley said. "Part of that is due to the increasing volumes of e-mail. … It’s hard for marketers to rise above the noise in the in-box. People become desensitized to the same old mailings every time."

However, when recipients do click, they are more likely to be in the market for that product or service and have a higher propensity to purchase. "They may be less responsive to individual campaigns, but when they are in the market for a product or service, they are indeed converting," Mabley said.

Business Publisher was the only category to increase in open rates; it went up marginally from 38.2% in the third quarter of 2003 to 38.3% for the third quarter of 2004. Meanwhile, Business Products & Services had the highest open rate of any category, at 41.5%. However, that percentage was a 10.4% decrease from last year’s third quarter, when Business Products & Services registered a 46.3% open rate.

"Our best clients are doing things like leveraging historical response and purchase data along with customer profile data to do a better job segmenting and targeting," Mabley said. "That will give you most of your life and responses in e-mail."

DoubleClick aggregates data from its DARTmail e-mail delivery technology for the trend report based on billions of client e-mails.

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