Following the decrease in sends and the lower than expected open and click-through rates in the last few years, there are signs that things are on the up, with both an increase in messages sent and improving stability in open and click-through rates.

The latest report shows that email marketing sends are on the increase too, with 92% of ESPs (we are one of them!) saying they expect to record a 20% rise for the whole of 2010.

Consumers increasingly receptive

There is more good news for email marketers too, with consumers demonstrating more engagement with the email messages they receive. The proportion of people opening emails and clicking a link counteracted 2009’s downward trend, with unique opens for retention-based emails coming in at 24% in Q1 2010 and 23% in Q2, compared to just 20% and 21% in Q3 and Q4 2009 respectively.

Whether this is driven by greater consumer confidence or better targeting by email marketers, it is hard to tell. But it is a positive sign nevertheless.

Let’s get social

Finally, as with last quarter’s results, the use of social media in email marketing continues to rise. Almost a third of email marketing messages (30%) contained social media links in the first half of 2010, up from nearly nothing the year before.

In addition, 93% of ESPs said closer integration with social networks was the biggest opportunity for the channel in the future.