Email delivery rates slid significantly between the first and second quarters, accentuating their recent downward trend, according to a new report by the Direct Marketing Association's Email Marketing Council.
Acquisition slid by seven percentage points to 68% while retention levels dropped by the same amount to 80%.
The report identified an email service provider's reputation as the most important factor influencing deliverability of campaigns.
The findings led the DMA to call for the direct marketing industry to place greater importance on factors influencing the delivery of emails.
According to the DMA's latest figures, email delivery rates for acquisition and retention have dropped for the last three quarters in a row. The delivery rate for acquisition in quarter four of 2006 was 92%, while the figure for retention stood at 94%.
The DMA's Email Marketing Council is advising clients to make use of email service providers' spam filters, ensure recipient permission has been obtained, maintain list hygiene and develop good ISP relations.
In addition to email service provider reputation, the report highlighted email content and authentication as the other decisive factors in ensuring delivery rates are kept high.
Despite the continuing fall of acquisition and retention levels, email service providers send an average 50m monthly emails, a figure expected to rise by 65% in the next year.
Skip Fidura, deputy chair of the DMA Email Marketing Council, said: "The first step in any marketing campaign is getting the message to the consumer. Regardless of how good the copy and creative are and how compelling the offer is, a campaign will fail if your target audience never sees the message.
"It's therefore vital that email marketers place more importance on ensuring that a message reaches the inbox."
The full report, 'Email Deliverability: How We Got Here and What Marketer's Should Do About It', is available through the DMA.
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