Permissions-Based Email Continues To Grow, But Click-Through Rates On Decline

Although research suggests email is the preferred method of consumer communications with companies, click-through rates continue to be a problem. The good news? While family and friends' emails are still the most dominant form of emails, permission email grows.

Family and friends' email communications represents anywhere from 35% to 37% of all emails, with permission emails from companies now at around 30% in 2010 -- this according to research presented by Rich Fleck, vice president of of interactive strategic services for Merkle, during MediaPost's Email Insider Summit on Wednesday.

"Interestingly, family and friends is dropping; permission email is going up," says Fleck.

Right now email engagement is steady -- with 86% checking their email account one or more times a day; around 40% check at least four times a day.

Fleck says it's good news that there are more companies being allowed to send emails to individual consumers -- an average of 11.3 companies in 2010, up from 10.3 companies the year before.



Research also shows that 74% say e-mail is the preferred form of communication from companies; direct mail is at 16%; phone, 4%; social, 2%; and text message, 1%.

Also in presenting research at MediaPost's Email Insider Summit, Judy Loschen, senior director of online analytics for Epsilon, says click-through rates declined to 5.4% in the third quarter of 2010 from 6.2% in the third quarter of 2009.

Why? Glut of digital messaging efforts. "The marketing landscape of channels have increased," reasons Loschen for some of the decline.

But for the future, Loschen believes click-through rates will stabilized -- just as email open rates have. She notes that the email open rate in the third quarter of 2010 is 22% -- which has been roughly the same across the last several quarters.

Looking at individual categories, Loschen says, consumer product, media, and telecom companies have seen a decrease in click-through rates -- while business products, financial services, general retail and travel are up.

She says improving companies are being more efficient -- holding back and decreasing email frequency -- which is resulting in higher click-through rates with these companies.

Loschen also predicted that frequency could be a problem for email marketers -- and why some click-through rates may be suffering.

"Throw me a wild card," suggests Dylan Boyd, vice president of sales and strategy for eROI, who was also on an Email Insider panel on email metrics. "Surprise me. Perhaps sending something on a Sunday night."

2 comments about "Permissions-Based Email Continues To Grow, But Click-Through Rates On Decline".
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  1. Peter Saridakis from CommunityKard, December 9, 2010 at 9 a.m.

    Interesting that 2% for social media given the dollars that are being thrown around by CPG companies to get their messages into communities....

  2. Blaine Mathieu from Compound Marketing Group, December 9, 2010 at 12:08 p.m.

    No surprise that family and friends email flow is dropping. Obviously that type of email is rapidly being replaced by social media-based conversations. Over time it is pretty clear that commercial and business-related email will make up the vast majority of non-spam email flows. This is both good news and bad news for companies trying to leverage email as a channel since a reduction in the use of personal email may lead people to be less attentive to their in-boxes. All the more reason that marketers need to take a "compound marketing" approach. More info here on my blog at

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