A recent report has suggested that the use of email marketing is on the increase, with a 41% rise in email volumes in the last quarter of 2011. However, although it appears that consumers are subscribing more frequently, the news is not necessarily as good as it first appears.

The research, completed by Epsilon, shows that whilst overall inbox volumes increased in the final quarter of the year, much of this would have been driven by the seasonal shopping flurry. Furthermore, despite these higher volumes, click rates fell.

The fall in click rates is even more worrying for online marketers, as the open rate rose by over 4% throughout the entire year.

This information can be read in two ways. Firstly, it shows that subject headings are likely being more effectively written but the quality of writing within the emails does not seem to be engaging action.

It also suggests that consumers are becoming more selective with what they choose is worth their time. Understanding this is where marketers can really make a difference and the tried and tested methods of personalising things still seem to reap rewards.

Contacting subscribers with a ‘Happy Birthday’ message still proves an effective hook for example, but this win can easily be negated by an impersonal text body.

Another area that needs greater focus is the optimisation of emails for mobile devices.

More than a quarter of emails are now viewed on the go, so delivering your message and call to action quickly and effectively is ever more essential.