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Ah, email. The marketing channel that steadfastly refuses to die. 

And why should it? Clearly it still works, particularly when it comes to ecommerce.

But as an email marketer it can be difficult to know what success looks like. Never fear, though, because in this post I’m going to share some ecommerce email marketing benchmarks for 2016.

The benchmark figures come from some recent research by Remarkety, which studied millions of emails across thousands of ecommerce brands. 

Newsletters

Sending out regular newsletters is important. It’s a chance to promote specific products or content, or to make your customers aware of any new promotions.

But while email newsletters can take a lot of effort to create, the sad truth is that most people are going to ignore it. 

Spam email newsletter

In fact, the average open rate for the newsletters in the Remarkety study was just 23.4%. 

Worse than that, the conversion rate was only 1%. 

Yes, these figures make a somewhat depressing read for email marketers, but as long as you are aware of them you can at least be clear on what return on investment (ROI) you can expect. 

Here are all the benchmark figures for email newsletters:

  • Open rate: 23.4%
  • Click rate: 17.8%
  • Conversion rate: 1%

Order follow-up

Once somebody has actually bought something from you you’d expect them to be more receptive to further contact. 

And you’d be right. 

The open rate for order follow-up emails is roughly twice that of a standard newsletter, at 46.1%, and click rates are roughly the same too. 

But what is most interesting here is the conversion rate jump, from just 1% on newsletters to 5% on order follow-ups. 

People are willing to take action – whether it’s through giving feedback or signing up to a loyalty program – once they have bought from you, so it is important to take advantage of that.  

Here are all the benchmark figures for order follow-up emails:

  • Open rate: 46.1%
  • Click rate: 16.7%
  • Conversion rate: 5%

Inactive customers

These figures are perhaps the most surprising. 


Despite being sent to people who are not regular customers, inactive customer email campaigns achieved a significantly higher open rate than standard customer newsletters.

There is one very simple potential explanation for this, of course: if somebody reads one email from your brand which doesn’t appeal to them or isn’t relevant, they are likely to ignore subsequent ones. 

But if something comes through from a brand they haven’t heard from in a while, or in a format which is new and different (such as a coupon code or similar offer), they are more likely to pay attention. 

This includes the inactive customer campaign and win-back occasional customer campaign.

Here are the overall benchmark figures for inactive customer emails:

  • Open rate: 38.9%
  • Click rate: 19.5%
  • Conversion rate: 2.6%

Abandoned cart

We often talk about reducing basket abandonment on the Econsultancy blog, and with good reason. 

If brands don’t keep on top of it they could be losing out on an enormous amount of revenue. 

One very effective way to bring people back to your site once they’ve walked away from a purchase is through basket abandonment emails

The figures in this study show that people are definitely receptive to this kind of communication, with abandoned cart emails achieving a 46.6% open rate on average, and a very impressive 28.7% click rate. 

Here are all the benchmark figures for abandoned cart emails:

  • Open rate: 46.6%
  • Click rate: 28.7%
  • Conversion rate: 5%

Member follow-up

The humble welcome email. Very important to make customers feel valued once they’ve bothered to sign up to your newsletter, but also an opportunity to encourage further action from new members. 

Open rates on member follow-up emails are fairly decent at 39.2%. 

Here are all the benchmark figures for member follow-up emails:

  • Open rate: 39.2%
  • Click rate: 22.4%
  • Conversion rate: 2.7%

You can read the full Remarkety report here.

How can you better your chances?

There are a number of steps you can take to increase your email marketing success. Clear calls to action, for example, or offering coupons

Check out the posts below for more tips and advice:

Jack Simpson

Published 14 January, 2016 by Jack Simpson

Jack Simpson is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

252 more posts from this author

Comments (6)

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Stefan Tornquist

Stefan Tornquist, Vice President, Research (US) at EconsultancyStaff

Haven't seen the study itself, so should keep quiet, but regarding newsletters at the top of the piece, those stats don't strike me as particularly low. Newsletters are great for many things, but their direct conversion rates don't usually compare favorably with solo/promotional emails. It's especially problematic when many newsletters have multiple calls to action for separate products/events, etc.

11 months ago

Peter Duffy

Peter Duffy, Director for Strategic Accounts at Mercanto

Email marketing is still just getting started!

Machine learning is arguably the 'next big thing' in email - self-learning algorithms that immediately and continually self-optimize - based on conversion rates and engagement.

Cordial is doing a good job at this: http://cordial.io/machine-learning/

11 months ago

Richard Hussey

Richard Hussey, Owner at RSH Copywriting

Stefan, I think you rightly highlight some of the confusion around email marketing. In the old days when direct response marketing involved printed media you had to be focused, disciplined and skilled. Otherwise you were going to waste a load of cash.

Sending emails is cheap (relatively). Without the cost driver the process has become devalued. I'm sure this goes a long way to explaining why open and conversion rates are so low (just look at the subject lines in your inbox!).

If you want to improve open and conversion rates hire an experienced writer who understands how conversion actually works.

11 months ago

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Jim Hunter, Consultant at VersionUX

Are open and conversion rates really that disappointing? Direct marketing has had those sort of rates for decades. For me it's obvious that email isn't dead and I'm pleased that Econsultancy gets that. How can it be dead when there's nothing to replace it yet? When something has around for a while and teenagers don't use it they assume it's dead. Not yet. And I don't know about your kids but mine have few responsibilities, don't pay any bills and don't need one place to go to organise their stuff....so it remains a happy hunting ground for marketing.

11 months ago

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Steven Ransom, Business Coach at Ransom Business Coaching

@PeterDyffy; I was reading from your website: "Cordial Experiments can mean less lost revenue, more relevant communications, and higher customer lifetime value."

How is this any different from google analytics that can achieve the same thing?

11 months ago

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Peter Applebaum, Managing Director at Tick Yes

Agree with Stefan. You're a really tough marker if you think getting engagement with a quarter of your target market (with eNewsletters) is low. How does that compare to other forms of customer engagement? I've seen eDM campaigns not just achieve strong email metrics but also have a direct impact on the bottom line. It's important to also remember that email marketing - as with other forms of communication - can prompt action even if the email is not opened. Having used every digital platform and strategy, email still offers the greatest bang for not many bucks.

11 months ago

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