Your Cluttered In-Box Is Likely To Remain That Way - InformationWeek

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Your Cluttered In-Box Is Likely To Remain That Way

Success in selling wares and services by E-mail suggests marketers will send more messages your way.

Your in-box is filling up with more E-mail--not only from family, friends, colleagues, and spammers, but from marketers you've done business with as well. Indeed, the average delivery rate of nonspam marketing E-mail rose 3.8% in last year's fourth quarter when compared with the year-earlier rate. That means nearly 91% of these types of messages successfully landed in consumers' electronic mailboxes, according to a new study by DoubleClick Inc., an E-mail and online marketing services provider.

As a percentage of mail received, consumers actually opened fewer marketing E-mails, 32.6% in fourth quarter 2004, an 11.4% decline from a year earlier. Similarly, the click-through percentage rate fell to 8%, a 4.8% dip. But Gary Black, DoubleClick's Dartmail product manager, says it is anti-spam and antivirus technologies embedded in E-mail systems, not user behavior, that can be blamed for these declines.

Yet, when consumers do open their marketing E-mails, the average click-to-purchase rate increased to 4.8%, a 14.3% gain in one year, and the average orders-per-E-mail-delivered rate reached a record high of 0.35%. That 34.6% better than a year earlier.

Numbers aside, marketers are making money E-mailing customers even though they face some technical impediments such as graphics blockers, which are aimed to protect users from potential viruses and offensive images. They also obstruct images aimed at marketing a product.

Still, DoubleClick researchers didn't find such software as hindering marketers' attempts to reach and sell to customers. In fact, the company contends such graphic-blocking software might produce a more accurate measure of E-mail engagement by counting only those recipients who view the full HTML of opened E-mails, as opposed to those who merely scrolled past in message preview mode.

DoubleClick reached its conclusions based on an analysis of more than 2 billion E-mail messages sent by hundreds of clients using its Dartmail E-mail delivery technology. (InformationWeek uses DoubleClick Dartmail to send out some of its newsletters.) Black says these messages were the types consumers have requested, such as confirmation orders.

In fact, he said, knowing when to send marketing pitches in E-mails is helping marketers sell more goods and services. One successful approach taken by some online sellers: pitching products when customers receive confirmation of the shipment of a previous purchase. Says Black: "It's getting consumers at the right time when they're most responsive."

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