March 15, 2005, 12:00 AM

E-mail click-to-purchase conversions rise 14%, DoubleClick says

Click-to-purchase conversions in e-mail marketing campaigns rose 14% year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2004, to 4.8% from 4.2%, DoubleClick reports. But as e-mail volume rises, respondents’ average order sizes are declining.

Click-to-purchase conversions in e-mail marketing campaigns rose 14% year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2004, to a near-record 4.8% from 4.2%, DoubleClick Inc. reports in its Q4 2004 Email Trend Report.

But as e-mail volume rose, average revenue per e-mail went unchanged at 26 cents, resulting in an 11% year-over-year decline in average order size to $89. “These results suggest a change in how e-mail marketing is driving online sales,” DoubleClick says. “Although more people are purchasing as a result of an e-mail offer, they are purchasing smaller ticket items. This suggests that e-mail-driven purchasing has expanded to include nearly all product categories, and when people are in the market for an item they are indeed converting.”

Overall, last year’s Q4 was a banner quarter for retailers, DoubleClick says, as orders-per-delivered e-mail reached an all-time high of 0.35%, up from the previous high of 0.3% in Q2 2003. In addition, the Q4 2004 click-to-purchase conversion rate of 4.8% was close to DoubleClick’s highest click-to-purchase conversion rate ever recorded of 4.9% in Q4 2003.

The report notes that bounce-back rates declined to an all-time low of 9.4% in Q4 2004, but that open rates and click rates both declined slightly, to 32.6% and 8% respectively.

DoubleClick says maintaining open rates is becoming more challenging with the adoption by e-mail gateways of image-blocking mechanisms designed to prevent the appearance of pornographic images in e-mail inboxes. But these mechanisms can also block legitimate images of products e-mailed by retailers, resulting in lower calculated open rates. Opened e-mail that doesn’t display imbedded images may not be calculated as having actually been opened, DoubleClick says.

DoubleClick bases its report on aggregate data, including billions of permission-based e-mails, from hundreds of clients of its DARTmail e-mail delivery system.

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