The level of online marketing emails has overtaken that of print direct mail-outs for the first time ever, according to new industry figures.

Research by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) found that many companies are increasingly opting for the low costs and other benefits that online marketing approaches offer.

The company estimated that in the fourth quarter of 2006 there was a 50 per cent year-on-year increase in commercial email volumes.

This trend was particularly driven by retailers that emailed shopping vouchers in the ruin-up to the traditionally busy Christmas sales period.

Skip Fidura, spokesman for the direct marketing group Ogilvy One Worldwide, told the Financial Times that emails sent on a Wednesday were traditionally the most successful but this could vary depending on the product.

“We have had some campaigns where e-mails sent between Friday at 2pm and Sunday at 2pm generated the best response,” he added.

The DMA figures were based on consumers who had ticked an ‘opt-in’ box to receive marketing emails.

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