LONDON: Marketing email volumes in the UK reached a record level in the first half of 2012, averaging more than 3bn a month, according to latest figures from the industry's trade body.

The National Email Benchmarking Report H1 2012, from the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), measured performance on a number of important metrics and revealed a 46% jump in sent emails while click through rates exceeded half a billion.

It also found greater integration with social networking, as 87% of social media marketers used email marketing and 61% planned to increase their email efforts.

The DMA's Email Marketing Council attributed the growth to "a change in attitude" and Dela Quist, chief executive of Alchemy Worx, the sponsors of the report, pointed to a more assured sector.

"A self-confident email marketing industry is beginning to throw off a 'fear and self-loathing' in email," he said, adding that UK brands saw email as "an indispensable marketing channel".

In addition to the increasing email volume, there was a 57% rise in the number of campaigns to 12,937. Contact frequencies fell, however, with consumers receiving no more than 2 emails per month per brand on average.

The upshot was, the report said, that conversion rates from email had overtaken search by 60%.

"What these figures don't highlight is the effort and sophistication behind these volume increases," observed Quist. "Brands are working hard to deliver better content to their customers."

James Bunting, chair of the DMA Email Council's benchmarking hub, urged marketers to monitor social media activity.

Doing this, he said, "will help to understand their audiences' priorities and interests, which can shape email content".

"Marketers need to focus on quality of content," he added, "and using data to drive relevant content should be key for marketers."

Data sourced from DMA; additional content by Warc staff