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Email, Digital Marketing's "Old Gray Mare," Still Competitive In Performance And Cost

Email is one of the original online marketing tools, but it is also a top performer. Fully 67% of respondents in a May 2012 CMO Council survey found it to be the most effective of digital marketing tactics, followed by website performance and interface solutions (52%), and paid and organic search (45%).

Digital Marketing Association (DMA) found much the same in a June study, charting improvements to both US email open rates and clickthrough rates (CTR) for in-house and prospect-intended emails between 2010 and 2012. eMarketer created the above graphic to detail the findings.

The average open rate in house lists (containing both past and present customers) was up 2.6% over 2010, while the CTR was up 1.1%. The open rate for prospect lists increased just slightly, but the CTR nearly doubled between 2010 and 2012, “pointing to an increased ability to resonate with prospects once they opened an email,” said eMarketer.

But while direct mail campaigns garner the highest response rates among channels—3.4% versus just -0.12% for email—the cost per order or lead for is roughly equivalent, at $51.40 for letter-sized direct mail, $54.10 for post cards, $55.24 for email and $52.58 for paid search.

So while it is tempting to budget for the maximum number of impressions, the cost per actual lead is fairly even, and email (with its advanced automation and segmentation capabilities) bears up fairly well—wonderfully well in some sectors, found the DMA.

CPG boasted the highest email click to open rate (46.5%). Financial services emails have a very high 30%. Retail (apparel) emails have open rates averaging 14.7%, slightly less than for publishing and media (14.9%). Publishing and media leads with the highest action rates per impression (0.13%).


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