In its new 2021 Retail Insights Report, Bluecore, the retail marketing technology company, looked at over 5 billion emails sent by a subset of its over 400 e-commerce brands to see the impact of email as a digital marketing tool as digital transformation accelerated across all retail.
The company notes in its report that as retailers felt the unique swings of the pandemic, coupled with being an already highly seasonal industry, email was particularly under the microscope for digital marketing — it was also found to be the most mature and least expensive marketing channel for most retailers who faced reprioritization and reorganization during the pandemic. Notably, Bluecore’s data found that email send volume increased by 160% from December 2019 to December 2020.
However, increased email sends do not increase conversion rates, said the authors of the report. During Amazon Prime Week 2020, retailers reviewed for Bluecore’s report sent an average of 77,462,859 total triggered and promotional emails daily and saw an overall conversion rate of 2.51%. In comparison, the same retailers sent 128,500,075 total emails daily during Cyber Week and saw a conversion rate of 2.5%.
At the same time, the company’s research revealed shoppers are 2.4 to 5 times more likely to convert in response to personalized emails than promotional emails — meaning when the email is targeted with personalized or triggered communications based on first-party knowledge about them rather than with promotional blast emails. To illustrate, the authors of the report pointed to the just 0.52% conversion rate for promotional emails sent during Prime Week 2020 compared to a 2% conversion rate seen from personalized emails sent. Similarly, during Cyber Week 2020, personalized emails saw a conversion rate of 2.1% compared to a 0.42% conversion rate from promotional emails.
“As retailers further their email sends, they’ll inevitably convert more of that engagement into sales,” said authors in the report.
Notably, despite a 66% average daily email volume from Prime Week to Cyber Week, Bluecore reported retailers managed to hold engagement rates steady between the two seasonal events — possibly suggesting that consumers are still more likely to shop during the more traditional Black Friday events than Prime Day. Another probability could be that many consumers either held out for bigger deals during Cyber Week or used an event to get a deal they missed the month before.
Still, Bluecore’s report finds that Prime Week email conversations are set to eclipse Cyber Week conversions in 2021 due to Prime Week leading slightly in personalized email open rates and click rates. Overall, said the authors of the report, “the data indicates that those shoppers who do engage with emails during these seasonal events are more serious about buying compared to those who engage year-round.”