Report: Spam Hasn’t Hurt E-Mail Marketing

E-mail marketers enjoyed higher open and click-through rates in the first quarter, according to DoubleClick , despite the threat of the spam deluge drowning out their messages.

The marketing technology company’s first-quarter e-mail trend report, compiled using more than 2 billion marketing e-mails it sent for clients, shows the state of e-mail marketing surprisingly strong, despite the dire warnings that spam was overwhelming the marketing channel. Open rates increased 8 percent compared to fourth quarter, and click-through rates rose 11 percent, according to the study released Thursday.

“I think it’s evidence that consumers and recipients are able to differ between mail they’ve requested versus mail that is spam,” said Eric Kirby, vice president of strategic services at DoubleClick. “I also think marketers are getting smarter.”

DoubleClick found an average open rate of 39.2 percent and an average click-through rate of 8.9 percent. In another piece of good news, average bounce-back rates declined to 12.5 percent from 13.5 percent in the previous quarter. Kirby attributed the decline to legitimate e-mail marketers staying on top of list hygiene.

Overall volume of e-mail was down, however. DoubleClick reported 57 percent of companies decreased their volume, which Kirby said was probably due to seasonality.

While the stats were encouraging, Kirby said e-mail marketers were still hurt by spam. The biggest problem remains legitimate marketers getting caught up in Internet service providers’ increasingly stringent anti-spam measures.

In industry categories, business products and services remained the best performer, garnering a 47.9 percent average open rate and 14 percent average click-through rate. Retail and travel messages also saw increases in their average open and click-through rates.

The news was particularly good since open and click-through rates both declined in the fourth quarter. The solid performance comes as the e-mail marketing industry is in a quandary over how to deal with the mounting spam problem. According to anti-spam company Brightmail, it stopped more than 19 million spam attacks in the first three months of the year.

Yet companies continue to pour money into e-mail marketing. Jupiter Research, which is owned by the parent company of this site, projects companies will spend $1.4 billion on e-mail marketing this year.

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