What’s the very latest on e-mail open rates?

Here’s an interesting factoid to consider: there were an average of 247 billion e-mail messages deployed each day during 2009.

With the plethora of commercial e-mail communications – accompanied by groaning inboxes and all – it’s only natural to wonder if what’s happening to the ones you send correlates to the experience of others.

The Direct Marketing Association helps answer that question with the results of a survey it just completed. The DMA’s 2010 Response Rate Trend Report, conducted with ~475 respondents in March and April, is the group’s seventh annual survey. It found that average open rate for e-mails sent to a company’s “house” e-mail database list is just under 20%, while the clickthrough rate from the e-mail to a web landing page is ~6.5%.

And the average “conversion” rate – taking whatever additional action is desired – is ~1.7%.

[Those figures are for “home-grown” e-mail databases. The percentages would be lower when working with outside/purchased lists.]

How does e-mail performance compare to response rates encountered in direct mail marketing pieces? The DMA research studied that, too. These days, direct mail response rates are running about 3.5% for house lists … but less than half of that (~1.4%) for outside prospect lists.

Commenting on the survey findings, Yuri Wurmser, the DMA’s research manager, said, “Traditional channels are holding their own in terms of response, but it is a multi-channel market out there where everyone is using a lot of different channels,”

Amen to that.

The DMA survey also found – not surprisingly – that while response rates for B-to-B campaigns tend to be higher than consumer campaigns, e-mail tactics are used less often for direct sales compared to postal mail. Which goes to show that despite their added costs and longer lead times, traditional direct mail marketing techniques still have a role to play in the marketing mix.

And what about telemarketing? The DMA survey reveals that outbound telemarketing to prospects provides the highest response rates — around 6% — but also the highest cost-per-lead at more than $300.

A full report is available for a fee from the DMA, and can be ordered here.

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