LONDON: Email marketing is in "robust health", according to a new analysis, but the industry is concerned about the potential effects of a proposed EU privacy directive.

The DMA, a trade body, aggregated data on the performance of more than 57bn emails sent in 2015 by the major Email Service Providers (ESPs) operating in the UK – each of which uses its own technologies and methodologies – for its Email Benchmarking Report 2016.

This noted that the majority (84%) of marketers used email, and that 41% rated it as the best-performing channel.

Between 2010 and 2015, the DMA observed a steady increase in the proportion of emails delivered, from 87% to 98%.

Unique open rates have fluctuated, however, falling from 20% in 2013 to 15% in 2015, while unique click through rates have been on a downward trend, from 6% in 2010 to just 2% in 2015. Unique click-to-open rates have also declined – to 20% from a high of 32% in 2013.

While the historical picture may be reasonably rosy, the DMA's more immediate concern is the impact of the EU's proposed ePrivacy Regulation, which it said "will severely restrict the use of third-party data and hold back technological developments in the digital economy".

The tightening of the rules for passing electronic communications information on to third parties would, it noted, "place a great deal of power in the hands of the internet browsers or other software companies".

Stricter opt-in rules have also been proposed but, as one observer noted, these could actually benefit email marketers: "although they will be an expensive pain to implement, they will also allow lists to be cleaned up and bounce rates reduced", which, in turn, ought to help boost deliverability rates.

Earlier DMA research has suggested that almost half of UK consumers have "ghost" email accounts that are active but no longer used because of the volume of marketing material they receive.

Data sourced from DMA, MediaPost; additional content by Warc staff