First, let's look at a graph representing the volume of e-mail over the last 30 days:
The blue line represents the volume of e-mail coming into our system and should provide a good sample of the overall e-mail delivered over the last 30 days. Notice the sharp spike around July 4th. This was caused by a single e-mail service provider whose servers may have misfired since they sent out huge volumes of the same e-mails over and over again that day and for a few days after. Or, perhaps it was that vendor's way of celebrating Independence Day: sending out a rocket of e-mail.
Market Sectors: the top 10 market sectors sending e-mail over the last month include: coupons and promotions, home-based businesses, credit card companies, business services, term life insurance, home study, online universities, and computer products. The coupons and promotions category represents companies whose whole existence is geared around capturing opt-in, e-mail addresses in order to send offers from third party advertisers.
Within this coupons and promotions market sector, the top 10 vendors include: Remodel 4 Free, owned by 123 Click; SubscriberBase, owned by FreeSlide; Franklin Surveys, owned by SilverCarrot; GroupLotto and Winhundred.com, owned by Traffix; Enjoy Savings, owned by Advertising.com; Quality Health, owned by Marketing Technology Solutions; WinSweepstakes.net and Jackpot.com, owned by The Vendare Group; and It's Your Opinion, owned by Permission Data LLC.
Brands: Top Brands over the last month include Remodel 4 Free, Termfinder.com, eMarketMarkers, Bronze Velvet, USA Platinum Card, Great American Life Insurance Company, and AccuQuote.
Top lists include: Azoogle, DaTran Media Direct, The Vendare Group, The Useful, Modern Credit Financial Services, and Free Gift Club.
Top advertisers in the online education and university category include: eSeminars, Educational Direct, AIU Online, Kaplan College, Colorado Technical University Online, University Alliance Online, Construction Boot Camp, EducationProvider.com, and University of Phoenix.
In more mainstream categories, top 10 retail stores and chains sending e-mail this month include (in order from most to least): Sears Department Stores, Kmart, Lowes Home Improvement, J.C. Penney Co. Inc., Best Buy, Neiman Marcus, Staples, Target, Talbots, and Wal-Mart.
In the food category, top e-mailers this month include General Mills, Kraft, Hickory Farms, and ConAgra Foods Inc..
In information technology and computers: St. Bernard Software, Bitpipe Inc., Technology Evaluation Center, Remedy, and Trend Micro, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Computer Associates, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco Systems, and Quest.
Top e-mailers in the home-based business category include Ted Thomas, Referralware.com, Financial Freedom Online, Plug-In Profit Site, CEMProspects.com, OpinionSquare, Leadstar Online, PayNet Global, and ESI Offers.
Let's take a look at some automotive categories:
In the auto manufactures category, top brands include: Volvo, Chevrolet, GM Buy Power, Buick, Ford, General Motors, Dodge Caravan, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, and Land Rover.
In the auto loan category, top e-mailers include: Auto Credit Guaranteed, Automotive.com, Driverloans.com, Any Credit Auto Loans.com, We Give It Away, AutoloansApproved.com, 60 Second Car Loan, Car Loan Provider, Car Loan Authority, and InstantCarloan.com.
And, in auto referrals and Leads: Cars America, Car Quote Provider, Trade-In-Value, Car Works, Auto Dealers USA, One Minute Price Quote, and PriceWheels.
In the apparel category we find: Classic Closeouts, Polo, Bloomingdales, Banana Republic, Old Navy, The Gap, Timberland, One Hanes Place, and Bag Borrow or Steal.
In entertainment we find Sony Music, Warner Brothers Home Video, MGM, MSNBC, TBS, ABC, Bertelsmann Media, Discovery Channel, Country Music Television, ESPN, and CNN.
In the area of credit cards we find: USA Platinum Card, Centennial Card, VIP Advantage Card, United Platinum, First Premier Bank Gold Card, All American Platinum Card, ChexCard ATM Mastercard, American Classic Card, Premier Gold Card, and Centra Gold Credit Card.
And finally, in the area of investments: Vision Investing, Scottrade, ING Direct, Ameritrade, Annui Web, Schwab, Real Money, Spread Trading Systems, and Cyber Trader.
So what can we learn from all of this? For the most part, name brands are still a little gun-shy when it comes to e-mail. The top 10 categories are dominated by pre-paid type credit card companies, high-interest loan providers, and third-party list providers themselves. This is too bad, because when you look more closely, you can see that Web site traffic is tied to e-mail offers; something we've been tracking closely over the last month. E-mail goes out, traffic goes up; e-mails stop, traffic goes down.