LONDON: Email marketing in the UK has reached a landmark, surpassing traditional direct mail in volume terms for the first time, reports the latest National Email Benchmarking study by the Direct Marketing Association's Email Marketing Council.

The report, which covers the last quarter of 2006, is based on data from leading UK email service providers. It reveals that year-on-year volumes increased by 52% - compared with direct mail where volumes decreased over the past year.

However, the decline in DM volume reflects improved targeting and increased use of multichannel integrated campaigns. And revenues have risen in tandem with the focus on quality.

But in terms of volume email marketing now rules the roost. According to the report, the average volume of emails rose 50% in the last quarter.

It underscores the medium's continued effectiveness due its ability to react swiftly to market opportunities and a short production cycle

Comments the DMA's Richard Gibson: "The continued growth of email marketing reiterates its importance as an effective marketing channel - both for retaining existing customers and generating new customer relationships."

Gibson is conscious, however, of the dangers posed by spammers and rogue emailers. "It's vital that the medium is used responsibly. Breaching best practice guidelines and the DMA Code of Conduct not only brings the medium itself into disrepute but also has the potential to massively damage a brand."

The email benchmarking survey was completed by 75% of British email service providers (including non-DMA members), who between them deliver the majority of outsourced email messages both to business and consumer email accounts in the UK.

Data sourced from DMA (UK); additional content by WARC staff