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Measuring eCommerce Success with Triggered Email Benchmarks

By Paul Vithayathil

Over the past several years, triggered emails have become a must for eCommerce marketers.

Shoppers leave items in their cart without checking out? Cue the abandoned cart email. People search for products and then leave the site without taking any action? Off goes the abandoned search email.

Today, the options for triggered emails are plentiful, and top retail marketers are using those options to their advantage. But how well do most eCommerce marketers’ triggered emails perform? And how does the performance of your triggered emails measure up? You’ve come to the right place.

New Triggered Email Benchmarks: The Latest Update to Bluecore’s Email Performance Calculator

Earlier this year, we introduced our Email Performance Calculator, a customizable dashboard you can use to measure your triggered email performance against that of similar retailers. All you have to do is select your industry, average order value (over $100 or under $100) and monthly unique visitors (over 300,000 or under 300,000) and the calculator will adjust to display the best triggered email benchmarks based on results from similar retailers.

To keep the Email Performance Calculator fresh, we committed to updating the data each quarter, adding on to previous data so that we ultimately have a rolling year’s worth of data powering the outputs. As of today, the Email Performance Calculator now contains data from Q1-Q3 of 2017.

How the New Data Impacts the Triggered Email Benchmarks

With the addition of a new quarter’s worth of data comes changes to the benchmarks. At the start of the last two quarters, we uncovered several insights within the benchmark data that we shared on this blog.

For example, we discussed the relationship between open, click and conversion rates, explained why better metrics for retailers with fewer monthly unique visitors may be misleading, identified that triggered email programs are getting more mature and took a deep dive into how average order value impacts triggered email performance. You can read more about these insights in our blog posts from April (Benchmarking Triggered Email Performance Made Easy) and July (The Latest eCommerce Benchmarks for Triggered Email Performance).

Despite the fact that the addition of the latest data changes the triggered email benchmarks slightly, we’ve found that all of the previous trends continue to hold true. Perhaps more importantly, the changes to the numbers this time around are far more subtle than they were last time, meaning that the addition of more data to the Email Performance Calculator is helping us arrive at a more stable benchmark. That said, we will always expect slight changes when we update the data due to the seasonality of the retail industry.

Three Ways to Use the Email Performance Calculator to Benchmark Your Triggered Emails

Since the trends we previously found in the Email Performance Calculator data continue to hold true, today let’s review a few ideas for how to best use the tool to benchmark your triggered emails.

Obviously you can input your information and see how you compare to the numbers from retailers that fall in the same buckets, but that’s only one option of many. As we shared previously, you can also compare click-to-open and conversion-to-click ratios with a few simple calculations.

In addition to using the Email Performance Calculator to compare your performance to that of others, we also recommend using it to understand changes in your own triggered email program performance over time. For instance, you should:

1) Prioritize Overall Revenue and Send Volume When Measuring Performance

The data that goes into the Email Performance Calculator has made clear that triggered email programs are getting more mature, with retailers adding new types of triggers to their arsenal and expanding the number of touches for existing triggers. This program maturity can absolutely lead to better results, but understanding those improvements can be challenging if you’re not looking in the right place.

As the number of campaigns you run increases, your metrics like clicks and conversions may very well go down. Ultimately, this decrease will result in a lower revenue per email (RPE). However, while those benchmarks are a good gauge of email performance, their decrease can be misleading. What you really need to do in order to understand your overall program performance is weigh revenue against send volume. That’s because as you expand your trigger campaigns, the number of emails you deliver will increase, which will lead to a decrease in metrics like opens, clicks, conversions and RPE. That said, your overall revenue from triggered emails will likely increase, and at the end of the day, it’s that overall revenue that really matters.

2) Determine Where to Focus Improvements Within the Benchmark Funnel

If you want to improve the performance of your triggered emails, how do you know where to start? The strategy you would follow to optimize for opens (e.g. honing your send rules, A/B testing subject lines) is very different than the one you would follow to optimize for clicks (e.g. testing different messaging and creative within emails), which is very different still from the strategy you would use to optimize for conversions (e.g. evaluating the page to which you send people).

You can use the Email Performance Calculator to determine where you’re doing really well and where you might have room for improvement. For instance, if your open rates are similar to those benchmarked in the calculator but your click rates fall short, then you have a good case for focusing your efforts on improving your click rates.

3) Develop a Strong Baseline Against Which to Measure Your Holiday Performance

Finally, with the holiday season coming up, now is a good time to set a baseline that you can use to measure your performance during the holiday shopping season. The important thing to note here is that benchmarks for open, click and conversion rates actually don’t change that much during the holiday season. Rather, it’s the send volumes that change.

With that in mind, you shouldn’t be disappointed if your click rates don’t skyrocket during the holiday season. In fact, you should be extremely happy if they stay the same. That’s because if you’re sending twice as many emails as you normally do, typically the follow-on metrics will decrease. During the holidays, however, if you can take advantage of the opportunity to double your send volume while maintaining the same click rate, that’s actually quite impressive.

Start Calculating

So how well do your triggered emails perform? And where should you focus your efforts for improvement? Check out our Email Performance Calculator to find out how you compare to similar retailers, set baselines for your program and more. Plus, be sure to sign up to receive updates when we refresh the data each quarter.


Paul Vithayathil

Paul Vithayathil

Paul joined the Bluecore team in 2017 with 4+ years of analytics experience in the industry. As the Data Analytics Manager at Bluecore, he is responsible for understanding and analyzing the rich retail data that Bluecore gathers to help retailers solve different business challenges, whether that is through building custom reports, developing retail-specific models or help test different marketing strategies.