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2020 Retail Email Benchmark Report

Based on Insights from Nearly 10 Billion Emails, Bluecore’s “2020 Retail Email Benchmark Report” Reveals Key Benchmarks For Retailers Leading Into Unprecedented Holiday Season 

Bluecore, the marketing technology company reimagining how the world’s fastest-growing retail brands transform casual shoppers into lifetime customers, today released its 2020 Retail Email Benchmark Report. This year’s benchmarks reveal how personalization is no longer an option for retailers, but a requirement to connect with consumers on one of the most critical digital channels leading into the first digitally dominant holiday season. The new report, based on nearly 10 billion emails sent by more than 400 retail brands over the past year, shows how different types of email communications and levels of personalization influence customer acquisition, customer retention and other high-value shopper behaviors.

Bluecore’s 2020 Retail Email Benchmark Report is based on data from March 2019 through February 2020. It establishes a series of benchmarks for 11 types of communications critical to driving eCommerce revenue including triggered emails and one-time sends, and informs retailers of key areas of focus to ignite engagement. A reliable, long-term benchmark for retail marketers to measure their performance against, the time frame was specifically chosen to avoid any unusual activity due to COVID-19.

Bluecore’s research revealed, among other things, that the retailers that send more emails personalized to recipients’ interests and behaviors reap the biggest rewards in customer acquisition and retention.

Key findings include:

Cart size is a key indicator of retailers’ campaign success.
There’s a strong correlation between consumer spend level and email engagement across retail verticals. Those shoppers that spend more, and therefore have a bigger cart size, have higher conversion rates for most retail verticals. For example, apparel’s high spenders have a .77% conversion rate, compared to average spenders with a .61% conversion rate and low spenders at .52%. Higher spenders are also more likely to engage with emails and less likely to unsubscribe, with an average unsubscribe rate of .21% compared to .24% among low spenders. The more shoppers spend with a brand, the stronger the connection they are likely to feel, which creates loyalty to buy time and again.

• The long-term benefits of customer retention far outweigh those of customer acquisition.
Existing customers -- even those who are considered at-risk or lost -- are easier to convert and make higher value purchases when they do convert than non and one-time buyers. Customers that have purchased from a brand six times have a 53% likelihood of purchasing again, while a one-time buyer only has a 18% chance of making another purchase. Retailers also see higher average conversion rates (0.51%) and click-to-conversion rates (6%) among multi-time buyers than other groups. When compared to non-buyers, one-time buyers come out on top with an average conversion rate of 0.28%, and an average click to conversion rate of 4%.

With personalization now a requirement, retailers’ focus is shifting to how fast they can personalize their entire email program.
Retailers with a larger percentage of personalized emails across their entire program see better overall performance. And the faster retailers can achieve a fully personalized email program, the faster they’ll see results in consumer engagement and revenue. For example, retailers using only personalized one-time sends see better performance across the board, including an 81% increase in click rates, 133% increase in conversion rates and 142% increase in revenue per email compared to retailers using only static one-time sends. As a comparison retailers using both personalized and static sends see only a 6% increase in click rates, 46% increase in conversion rates and 26% increase in revenue per email compared to retailers using only static one-time sends.

There isn’t one end-all be-all type of email; high performing programs require a well-curated email mix.
The overall composition of the types of emails retailers send make a significant difference in how a program performs. Certain types of emails consistently deliver better results on different engagement measures, for example triggers consistently deliver high engagement. Open rates are highest for product abandonment (33%) and cart abandonment emails (31%) and click rates are highest for cart abandonment (12%) and price decrease emails (11%). Cart abandonment emails see the highest conversion rate as well (1.74%), with price decrease emails being the closest following with a conversion rate of 0.55%. These reactive emails need to work together with proactive sends, like personalized batch emails, to create a mature marketing program that responds to the dynamic needs of the consumer.

“Retailers need to be able to reference baselines for the long term, especially as digital customer retention, performance and customer lifetime value become increasingly important with the acceleration of the 50/50 online/offline revenue split,”said Sherene Hilal, SVP of Marketing and Operations at Bluecore. “Email is an especially important channel right now as it is the strongest addressable identifier in the digital world and the most preferred channel by consumers. Our email-specific benchmarks will help retailers navigate the first digitally dominant holiday season in an incredibly dynamic retail landscape.”

The full 2020 Retail Email Benchmark Report is available for download here.