February 27, 2003, 12:00 AM

E-mail a key factor in online channel’s happy holidays, DoubleClick reports

Open rates were up 12% and click-throughs 3% in Q4 over Q3 for retailers and catalogers. Revenue per delivered e-mail rose 10% on immediate online sales alone. The data show how much e-mail contributed to the successful online season.


Though e-mail open and click-through rates declined on average in last year’s fourth quarter, they rose at retail and catalog companies, driving substantially more traffic and increasing conversion rates at these sites, according to a Q4 e-mail trend report from DoubleClick Inc.

“While overall spending was down this holiday season, results from retailers and catalogers revealed that the online channel had a relatively good season,” says Eric Kirby, vice president of strategic services at DoubleClick. “The data show, for the first time, the role that e-mail played in contributing to the successful online season.”

Retail and catalog company e-mail open rates increased by 12% in the fourth quarter, to 38% from 33.9% in Q3. By contrast, the open rate on e-mail across all industry sectors dropped by 2.5% quarter to quarter. Similarly, click-through rates for retail and catalog e-mails rose 3%, to 7.1% in Q4 from 6.9% the previous quarter, while the all-company click-through rate declined by 6%.

Conversion rates were up as well. Retail and catalog companies that track purchases through DoubleClick’s Dartmail system saw that of e-mails that were clicked on, 4.1% drove an immediate purchase. This represents a 10.8% increase over the previous quarter.

Revenue per e-mail also rose for retailers and catalogers, with revenue per e-mail delivered increasing 10% to 32 cents in the fourth quarter from 29 cents in the third quarter. The actual value of revenue that can be attributed to e-mail may be larger as the figure measures only revenue captured in an immediate online sale on click-through, and doesn’t capture store or telephone sales that may have been influenced by e-mail, DoubleClick says.

Across all companies, in the fourth quarter 81% of e-mail was sent in a non-text format with HTML comprising 44% of that. The HTML format gets a significantly higher click- through rate of 11.2%, compared to the click-through rate of 5.5% for text-based e-mail.


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