2017 Email Marketing ROI Statistics: Open Rate to Revenue

Unfortunately, most studies on email statistics are limited to open rates, click through rates, and bounce rates.


But for most of us, the ultimate KPI for eCommerce email campaigns is profitability.


This study, conducted over two years from 2016-2017 across hundreds of eCommerce sites and millions of emails, illustrates the entire email marketing funnel - from open rate to conversion. 

Summary: Top of Funnel Email Stats

Year

Open Rate

CTR

CTOR

2016

44.22%

8.31%

18.78%

2017

45.59%

8.69%

19.06%

Summary: Email Conversion Stats

Year

CR (Sent Base)

CR (Click Through Base)

Highest Total Rev. Email Type

Highest AOV/Email

2016

1.44%

17.39%

Shopping Cart Abandonment

Email my Cart

2017

1.53%

17.63%

Shopping Cart Abandonment

Email my Cart

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Average Email Conversion Rate Statistics

Challenges with Conversion Rates

Email conversion rate is a nuanced metric. 


There are a variety of end goals that your email may want to achieve - from capturing leads, to soliciting a response, to completing a purchase.


Because this study focused on eCommerce sites, we defined a conversion as a completed purchase. 

How to Calculate Email Conversion Rate (CR)

There are three simple steps to calculate email conversion rate.

  • Define your end goal - First, you need to determine what a conversion is to you.  While we chose completed purchases, it can be any valuable goal your are trying to accomplish. 
  • Define your base - Second, you need to decide what base makes more sense to you. Should you base your conversion rate on all sent emails or should your base only be emails that resulted in a click through?
  • Calculate - Finally, calculate your conversion rate by taking the total  number of conversions in step 1 divided by your base in step 2.

Using sent emails as your base will result in a more comprehensive metric that depends on the effectiveness of your subject line, email deliverability, and email copy. 


If you choose to use the number of clicked through emails as your base, you will control for all the variables above. Instead, your conversion rate will be more sensitive to how effective your landing/product pages are, the strength of your offer, and how well your offer matches the segment you are emailing to.

Average Email CR Statistics Over Time

The first thing we notice is that email remains an incredibly effective channel at driving purchases.


Here, we see that a full 17.63% of clicked through emails ultimately result in a purchase, up slightly from the 2015 CR of 17.39%.


In fact, according to Custora E-Commerce Pulse, email accounted for 19.8% of all transactions - trailing only paid search (19.9%) and organic traffic (21.8%).

Email accounted for 19.8% of all transactions - trailing only paid search (19.9%) and organic traffic (21.8%) - Custora E-Commerce Pulse

When calculated as a percentage of total emails sent, the conversion rate drops significantly.


This, in part, illustrates how various email statistics interact and influence each other.


When you are able to create effective, personal subject lines that compel prospect to open their emails, the chance that they click through and convert is very high.


No matter which base you use, conversion rates depend on effective segmentation and communication.

Average Email Conversion Rates by Campaign Type

Segmenting by campaign type reveals how effective engaging customers across all levels of intent is. 


While browse abandonment only converts at 3.83%, it is still a substantial improvement over not having this type of prompt and engagement.


However, once customers have demonstrated purchase intent by placing items in a cart, emails convert at a substantially  higher rate.

  • Browse Abandonment Emails: 3.8% - These customers have shown the lowest for of intent, not adding any items to their cart. 
  • Email My Cart Emails: 22.73 - These customers have added items to their cart, clearly demonstrating purchase intent. However, we don't have anyway to contact them.
  • Cart Abandonment Emails: 18.64% - These customers have filled out the purchase form, but decided to not follow through with their purchase. You can maximize conversions by addressing the top reasons for cart abandonment.

Limitations of conversion rate metrics

Email conversion rate is one of the best "macro" KPIs that you can select.


While some prefer to focus on overall profitability or ROI, the truth is not all of your customers are going to be big spenders. 


With proper segmentation, you can (and should be) optimizing for both overall revenue and ROI. The problem is that in isolation, your conversion rate is not very prescriptive. How to increase your conversion rate is impossible to tell from this metric alone.

This is why it is imperative that we look to the "
micro-conversions" leading up to purchase. 

How to Improve Email Conversion Rates


There are two main ways to improve conversion rates.


First, you can improve how personalized your offer is through proper segmentation and omnichannel strategies.


Second, you can improve the mechanics of the offers themselves (implementing best practices such as send times, optimal subject lines, etc). 


Email Marketing ROI Statistics

Email marketing has always been a high ROI channel for eCommerce. This section will break down the highest revenue generating email types.

Revenue Generated Per Email

By far the most effective type of triggered email is Email My Cart campaigns.

These emails created 54.9% more revenue per email than the second highest converting campaign type (cart abandonment emails), and 168% better than the average. 

Back to stock and post-purchase emails proved to be much less effective than the other campaign types.

Other Email Marketing ROI Statistics

While our database is heavy on automated triggered emails, the Data & Marketing Association has identified a number of other key email marketing ROI statistics. 

  • Average ROI - 3,800%, or $38 for every $1 invested
  • Top Performers- 18% of companies achieve ROI greater than $70 per $1 invested
  • Low Performers- 20% of companies achieve ROI less than $5 per $1 invested
  • Segmented Emails- Generated 36% of total email revenue
  • Triggered Campaigns- Generate 306% more click throughs per email than non-triggered emails. 


Email ROI Takeaways 


There is a massive difference between low and high performers in email marketing. While high performers achieve $70+ per dollar invested, low performers are recognizing gains of less than $5 per dollar invested. 


To maximize email marketing ROI, focus on email personalization, triggered email campaigns, and implementing email capture strategies such as email my cart and browse abandonment. 


Average Email Open Rate Statistics

Email open rate is a base metric provided by every major email service provider.


It is a great "top of the funnel" metric for eCommerce email marketing campaigns.  

Challenges & Limitations of Email Open Rates

As we will see, open rates vary dramatically across campaign types.


Win-back campaigns by nature are going to have much lower engagement metrics than cart abandonment emails. That doesn't make win-back campaigns useless - far from it.

Because different email types have vastly different expected open rates, average email open rate statistics are relatively useless. 


Note: the same applies to all other email statistics: CR, CTR, CTOR, AOV, etc. When able, look to compare similar campaign stats.


Further, using open rate as your main KPI doesn't make a lot of sense.


If you focused on only maximizing open rate, you would only send to those customers most likely to engage with your messaging (for example, your “best” and “loyal” customer segments in an rfm analysis).


That being said, open rate is a very valuable metric to gauge the effectiveness of your subject line, relationship with your audience, and quality of your offer.

How to Calculate Email Open Rate

Open rates are one of the easiest metrics to track.


Email open rates are calculated by taking the total number of opened emails and dividing it by the total number of sent emails.


As mentioned, most ESP providers will be able to provide this data for you at both an aggregated and per campaign level in their dashboard. 

Average Email Open Rate Statistics Over Time

Our study compared email open rates from 2016-2017. 


We found that like conversion rates, open rates increased slightly over the years. In 2017, email open rates reached an incredible 45.59%!

Average Email Open Rates by Campaign Type

There is a huge variance in open rates across the most popular campaign types. 


"Back in Stock" emails had the highest open rate (65.32%), performing almost 70% better than the lowest performing email campaign type of post-purchase emails.


Like conversion rates, "email my cart" triggered emails performed extremely well, and markedly better than the lower intent browse abandonment email.


Shopping cart abandonment emails were opened 44.76% of the time, in line with previous shopping cart abandonment email statistics.

How to Improve Email Open Rates

The single most immediate way to improve your email open rate is to improve your subject line.

We’ve covered the best types of cart abandonment email subject lines here.  


After you improve your subject line, you can focus on building relationships with your user base through regular, valuable communication. Look at your own inbox. Which emails do you read religiously and which do you auto-delete?


It is interesting to note that open rates from our database are significantly higher than other more general platforms.


For example, in Mailchimp's latest Email Marketing Benchmark Report, they broke out a variety of email open rates by industry. 

Industry

Open Rate

Beauty and Personal Care

18.48%

eCommerce

16.75%

Retail

20.96%

Why is this?


First, and most importantly, many of Barilliance's triggered email campaigns are set off when customers express interest in a product. This allows eCommerce stores to send highly relevant emails at the exact time of consideration.


Second, many of our clients utilize personalization in their subject lines, injecting product names that customers either added to their cart or simply spent the most time on.


The lesson is to maximize engagement by capturing contact information and automating personal, relevant messages to continue the education and motivation process. 

Email Open Rate Take-aways


Email open rate is best used to evaluate the relevancy of your offer to the specific segment you are communicating to, the effectiveness of your subject line, and your overall relationship with your audience. 


To improve your open rate, focus on email subject line best practices, personalization through segmentation and product recommendations, and timing emails to clients actions.  

Average Email Click Through Rate Statistics

Email Marketing CTR Statistics

Like open rates, email click through rate (CTR) is a basic metric that is easily assessable through most professional email providers.


It is a fantastic metric to evaluate your emails message and offer. 

How to Calculate Email Click Through Rate

The standard definition of email click through rate (CTR) is to take the total number of visitors who clicked through on the email (usually a link within the email to a website page) divided by the total number of sent emails.


However, recently another form of CTR is gaining popularity.

 

Instead of using the total number of sent emails as the base, it uses the total number of opened emails.


This "new" click through rate is called click to open rate, or CTOR.


CTOR is a narrower metric which focuses on the quality of the email body, and controls for outside variables such as subject line and delivery.

Average Email CTR Statistics over Time

As with conversion rate and open rates, 2017 slightly outperformed 2016 across both CTOR and CTR.


It is interesting to compare these numbers to industry averages. Constant Contact has a great Industry Comparison Chart that breaks down both open and click through rates on a wide range of industries. 

Industry

Click Through Rate

All industries -Overall Average

8.00%

Retail (both brick and mortar and online)

7.53%

These numbers are dramatically higher than industry studies compiled by Mailchimp.

Industry

Click Through Rate

Beauty and Personal Care

1.96%

eCommerce

2.32%

Retail

2.50%

Regardless of which industry benchmarks you use, there is a substantial difference between our database numbers and these figures.


Our database shows a 15.4% increase over Constant Contact's industry average and 275% increase over Mailchimps.


Like open rates, this difference can be attributed to the high percentage of triggered emails in our database, segmentation best practices, and personalization techniques embedded within the email.

Average Email CTR Statistics by Campaign Type

By far the highest converting email type was "email my cart" campaigns.


39.42% of email recipients ultimately clicked through on these emails, 101% more often than the second highest campaign type (cart abandonment - 19.6%).


Outside of "email my cart" campaigns, the other campaign types were close to each other. 

The lowest click through rates came from post purchase and browser abandonment emails.

How to Improve Click Through Rates

Your email click through rate depends entirely on how well your offer is crafted for each individual recipient.


One key to success is to leverage personalization throughout your email copy and ultimate offer. A study published by Aberdeen shows that personalization increases CTR by 14%.


Our own studies show that using dynamic product recommendations within your email communication can increase email click through rates by 35%!


Lastly, you can further personalize your messages by triggering emails based on user's actions.


We've cited numerous examples in this study, such as "email my cart" and "browse abandonment" triggers for visitors who are shopping but not converting.

Next Steps...

Use these email marketing statistics to benchmark your own ROI and conversion metrics.


Then, make sure you are implementing the most effective email types:

  • Email My Cart and Browse Abandonment - Engage and capture email addresses of visitors who engage with content but don't have an account. 
  • Cart Abandonment - Recover sales with effective, triggered cart abandonment campaigns.
  • Dynamic Product Recommendations - Increase relevancy with personalized subject lines and email content.

We wrote a short book illustrating all of these tactics and more titled "19 Tactics to Increase Email Subscribers".  You can download it for free here.


Lastly, to learn how Barilliance empowers eCommerce and retail brands execute these strategies (and more), request a demo here


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