Email Marketing Is Still Key for Boosting Conversion – Here’s Where to Focus Your Brand Strategy

Brand marketing is getting more high-tech and experimental, but some of the most reliable tools are also the most simple. Email marketing continues to have significant influence on conversions for brands – when done correctly. A new report from marketing technology company Bluecore offers insight into what makes for a successful campaign and where companies might be falling short.

Bluecore’s 2020 Email Benchmark Report looked at over 9.5 billion emails sent from over 400 retail brands, in order to assess how email type and strategy impacted important metrics like customer acquisition, customer retention, and conversion. By looking at data collected from March 2019 through February 2020, the platform was able to draw conclusions with long-term relevance outside of the pandemic’s specific impact.

“Email is the most powerful channel for any digital retail marketer,” wrote the report’s authors. “Time and again, email has confirmed its ability to help retailers double down on highly personalized, people-based marketing efforts, all while maintaining stringent new privacy standards. Email has also emerged as the most valuable channel to achieve these goals, due to its ability to ignite engagement and revenue by providing retail marketers with direct access to customers.”

With so much on the table, it is imperative that brands fine-tune their email strategy for maximum impact.

One approach that brands must adopt? Personalization. Bluecore reported that it has the biggest impact on performance, with the presence of any personalization leading to greater results. But a higher degree of personalization within each email also corresponded positively to the overall performance of the email campaign.

Customers receive a large volume of emails, so brands need to tailor their communications to those most likely to convert.

Personalization has been a buzzword in brand marketing for years now, but the report warns that successful scaling requires “access to automated, AI-driven workflows” that can identify customer behaviors and detect the products with which they currently engage or might in the future engage. When combined with a trigger, such as a change in merchandise inventory, these workflows can automate hyper-personalized communications to a select audience.

“The retailers that see the most success with merchandising triggered emails layer in customer data to narrow down the recipients,” said the report. “In doing so, marketers have a strong opportunity to proactively engage customers in relevant ways, since they don’t have to first wait for those customers to take action onsite.”

The data supports these conclusions: Bluecore found that emails with a high sense of urgency had the highest click-through rates, including for triggered emails such as price decrease (10.57%), back in stock (9.32%) and low inventory messaging (7.41%). These kinds of emails also reported higher click-to-open rates, suggesting consumers are more interested in these offers than broad informational messaging.

Within consumer segments, the report found that customer retention was more valuable than customer acquisition, with existing customers more likely to be converted than new or one-time customers. This was particularly true for apparel, footwear and home goods markets where shoppers are likely to make frequent, average-value purchases.

The study also found that return customers were more likely to browse with intent than first-time visitors. This makes it easier to create effective targeted email campaigns tied to their recent browsing activity; multi-time buyers were nearly twice as likely to convert than one-time buyers nearly three times as likely than non-buyers.

“The average conversion and click-to-conversion rates are notably higher for multi-time buyers compared to both other groups,” said the report. “This shift reveals that customers’ past purchase history impacts whether their interest in viewing products (as displayed by opening and clicking on emails) leans more toward curiosity and research or true purchase intent.”

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