Metrics That Matter: Email Benchmarks for 2018
Last month, I shared a collection of retail industry benchmarks to help with 2018 planning, and noted the fact that email has grown significantly to 3.7 billion users in 2017. As we enter the new year, it’s also an ideal time to review how specific performance metrics from your email program compare with other email senders. While every business is different, with revenue drivers that range from order frequency to membership renewal, having a baseline measure is a smart step before committing to quotas or goals for the new year.
Email Is the Digital Workhorse
Email remains the strongest digital channel when it comes to return on investment. Generating a solid $38 for every $1 spent, email is an established purchasing channel that consumers are comfortable engaging with to make online transactions. In fact, approximately 70 percent of consumers in every age group prefer email for brand communications. As you're building a digital communications plan for the year and making a case for where to invest your resources, keep these statistics in mind to demonstrate the effectiveness of email, as well as its acceptance among consumers.
Mobile Consumption of Email Has Matured
Fifty-five percent of consumers around the globe now consistently reach for a mobile device to open email, up from just 29 percent in 2012. At this rate, mobile engagement with email is higher than both webmail (28 percent) and desktop (16 percent) combined. In the United States, mobile email usage is substantially stronger than the average at a whopping 71 percent. Put simply, mobile is now the norm.
The Impact of Inbox Engagement on Retail
Just 80 percent of commercial email is delivered to the inbox worldwide, with 20 percent going to spam folders or blocked altogether. In the United States, inbox placement is a bit lower, averaging just 77 percent, with 23 percent of mail being filtered. As mailbox providers leverage subscriber engagement activities more heavily in their mail sorting algorithms, it’s critical for retailers to closely understand their response metrics and build strategies to drive toward engagement in order to evolve with the times.
Not only is it harder than ever to reach the inbox, getting subscriber attention is equally challenging. With an average of 25.7 percent of commercial email being opened, retail trails the overall average with an open rate of just 20 percent. With this kind of engagement lag, it’s important for retailers to consider the impact of trending response metrics on their businesses. By industry segment, open rates are as follows:
- Apparel and accessories: 18.7 percent
- Beauty: 14.0 percent
- Department stores: 18.7 percent
- Grocery and pharmacy: 20.0 percent
- Home: 19.4 percent
- Luxury: 15.6 percent
- Shoes: 21.0 percent
- Specialty: 21.3 percent
Among the retail industry segments, there are pockets of stronger performance, particularly in shoes, where both opens and click rates are well above the industry average. However, the overall trend for clicks and click-to-open rate is similar to opens, with retail email generating a 1.9 percent click rate and 9.2 percent click-to-open rate. Specific metrics for each retail industry segment are as follows:
- Apparel and accessories: 1.9 percent click, 8.8 percent click-to-open
- Beauty: 1.1 percent click, 7.0 percent click-to-open
- Department stores: 2.0 percent click, 9.1 percent click-to-open
- Grocery and pharmacy: 1.8 percent click, 8.7 percent click-to-open
- Home: 1.5 percent click, 6.9 percent click-to-open
- Luxury: 1.6 percent click, 8.9 percent click-to-open
- Shoes: 2.6 percent click, 12.5 percent click-to-open
- Specialty: 1.7 percent click, 6.9 percent click-to-open
As consumer preferences have evolved, email continues to deliver strong revenue as a channel. Being knowledgeable about how the shifting trends in metrics are impacting retail and your industry segment, specifically, is a powerful approach for preparing and justifying continued focus on the channel.
Bonnie Malone leads the consulting, client training, and knowledge and editorial organization of Return Path, an email data solutions provider.
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Bonnie is passionate about excellent customer experience. With a background in marketing, merchandise buying and retail management, she helps companies stay relevant amid the changing digital landscape. Bonnie leads the knowledge and consulting teams at Return Path, the global leader in email deliverability. She is an active Email Experience Council committee member, featured speaker for events, and writes monthly for the Return Path blog and Total Retail.