The volume of marketing offers sent by e-mail has overtaken print direct mail in the UK for the first time as companies exploit the low cost and other benefits of electronic campaigns.The milestone highlights the challenge to Royal Mail and others with sizeable businesses charging for producing and delivering print direct mail when advertisers are reducing print volumes in the £14bn-a-year industry.
Latest figures from the Direct Marketing Association estimate that in the fourth quarter of 2006, commercial e-mail volumes increased by 50 per cent year on year. The electronic format was heavily adopted by retailers e-mailing vouchers in the run-up to Christmas and that is likely to be repeated this year.
Specialists questioned by the DMA predicted the volume of e-mail marketing would grow by another third.
E-mail campaigns are much cheaper and quicker to produce than print work, as well as being easier for advertisers to target and evaluate for customer response rates.
Most marketers however believe a combination of print and online is the most effective approach, particularly as campaigns can be confused with spam, which is estimated to account for up to 90 per cent of internet traffic.
A new study from Royal Mail found customers prefer to receive both mail and e-mail in different contexts, and spend more if communicated with by both methods. But researchers seem unable to answer a key question: when is the best time for marketing e-mails to be sent?
Skip Fidura, e-mail partner at Ogilvy One Worldwide, a direct marketing group owned by WPP said there was a widely held assumption that e-mail sent on a Wednesday was most likely to be successful. But it varied by brand, product and industry. Mr Fidura said: “We have had some campaigns where e-mails sent between Friday at 2pm and Sunday at 2pm generated the best response.”
All the e-mail measured by the DMA was from “opt-in” schemes where consumers had requested e-mail.
The rates at which people opened e-mail and clicked on any embedded link were both lower during the quarter, and there has been an upward trend in people opting out of schemes.
Source: Financial Times