If you look at Q2 2020 through an ecommerce lens, you’ll see a massive uplift in the share of sales that ecommerce took from brick-and-mortar stores. In Q2, U.S. ecommerce sales rose 44.4% year-over-year and was responsible for 20% of all retail sales—up from 16.2% in Q1.
Here at Omnisend we send a lot of email, SMS, and push marketing messages. Because of this, our clients serve as a good barometer for how the ecommerce space is trending. When analyzing email sends during the heart of the pandemic, we saw that consumers gravitated toward trusted marketing channels such as email when doing their online shopping.
For Omnisend customers, email increased in performance year-over-year (YoY) during the rise of COVID-19. However, as Q2 came to a close, many stores were once again opening back up to the public. The question is, how will consumer behavior change vis-a-vis email and other digital marketing channels?
We once again went into full data-mode and analyzed email, SMS, and push message performance during Q2. We analyzed email send data for over 2.4 billion emails sent from the Omnisend marketing platform during Q2, further breaking these messages down by scheduled promotional messages (campaigns), automated lifecycle emails, and transactional messages.
We also looked at more than 1.8 million SMS and push messages sent through the Omnisend platform. This data included sends, opens, clicks, and conversions from April 1st through June 30th for both 2019 and 2020.
Email Marketing Performance
Email Open Rates:
Email open rates increased year-over-year for both promotional campaigns and automated messages during the second quarter. Promotional campaigns (traditional scheduled messages) registered an overall open rate of 10.85%*, a 29.37% lift compared to the same period in 2019.
This increased performance is not entirely surprising. As we saw in the COVID-19 email marketing metric report, when consumers increased their online shopping they turned to trusted marketing channels like email as a source of product discovery and awareness.
The increase in open rates for lifecycle automated messages is the real story of Q2. While automated messages traditionally have better engagement metrics than promotional campaigns, the open rates for automated messages saw a 76.25% YoY increase.
When comparing open rates in Q2 of this year, automated messages see an improvement of 178.6% over scheduled promotional campaigns.
When looking at the types of lifecycle messages sent, the best performing open rates belong to the three abandonment messages: product, cart, and browse—further illustrating that sending relevant messages to the right person at the right time matters.
Online DTC brands who don’t send these types of messages because their ecommerce platform isn’t integrated with their email provider are missing a huge growth opportunity.
Type of Automation
Lift Over Campaigns
* List management, send cadence, and the use of Booster sends (remails) on a per-client basis impacts promotional campaign open rates—often resulting in lower overall numbers. For instance, it is common for remailed messages, because they specifically target non-openers, to receive roughly half of the open rate as the initial send—therefore reducing the overall open rate.
Email Click Rates:
Click rates (click-to-open) during Q2 told two different stories. The average click rate for promotional campaigns was 14.22%, representing a YoY decrease of 9.5%. However, considering YoY click rates declined by over 17% from January 1st through April 26th, this 9.5% decrease is an improvement over that figure.
While promotional campaigns saw a decrease in click rates, the same cannot be said for automated messages. Automated messages generated a 21.24% click rate, marking a 15.37% YoY lift over automations in 2019.
When comparing click rates in Q2 of this year, automated messages see an improvement of 49.36% over scheduled promotional campaigns, with birthday, cart abandonment, and welcome emails leading the way.
Type of Automation
Lift Over Campaigns
Email Conversion Rates:
Email marketing trends at the beginning of the pandemic showed similar trends to what we saw in Q2, with an increase in opens and a decrease in clicks—ultimately leading to increased conversions.
Overall, the conversion rate for promotional email campaigns was 5.37%—an 88% year-over-year lift. Maybe more promising for brands is that the conversion rate increased each month of the quarter, hinting at an increased reliance on not only ecommerce but email marketing as a primary purchase channel.
This behavior is indicative of intent-based shopping. Instead of consumers clicking on an email and casually browsing the website, emails had to ‘earn’ their clicks—but once the subscriber clicked on the email their intent to purchase was higher.
When it comes to automated lifecycle messages, the conversion rate jumps to a stunning 22.39%—a 63% lift over 2019 automations and a 335% increase over promotional campaigns.
While all automated messages have high conversion rates, welcome, cart abandonment, and lapsed-purchaser messages convert the best for Omnisend clients—with welcome messages seeing a nearly 800% lift over promotional messages.
Most importantly, automated messages drove 26% of the email marketing conversions while accounting for less than 2% of the email sends.Online brands should look to automation as a major component for increasing their sales.
Type of Automation
Lift Over Campaigns
Overall Campaigns and Automation Performance:
Scheduled promotional campaigns made up 98% of the email volume sent during Q2 2020. These campaigns saw YoY increases in open and conversion rates, while click rates slightly decreased. As previously mentioned, this impact was partially driven by consumer shopping changes resulting from COVID-19, however, reinforced that consumers are increasingly turning to trusted, opt-in marketing channels like email.
The numbers don’t lie — automated lifecycle messages are powerful sales enablers for ecommerce businesses. Even though these messages accounted for less than 2% of the email volume sent during Q2, they generated 26% of the conversions. In fact, the worst-performing automated message, in terms of conversion rate, still saw a rate nearly double that of promotional campaigns. Online businesses who fail to utilize automated lifecycle messages are limiting their growth potential.
Transactional messages, namely order and shipping confirmation messages, are highly read yet often-overlooked messages when it comes to performance. These messages have some of the highest open rates of emails, giving them the potential to generate significant revenue.
The open rate of the two messages was 47.26%, click rate 31.87%, and the conversion rate was 6.04%—slightly beating out promotional emails for the quarter. Year-over-year, open rates increased by 13.34%, click rates by 17.59%, and conversion rates by 129.22%.
Looking at the differences between order and shipping confirmation messages, we see very similar open rates. However, clicks and conversions tell a slightly different story.
- Shipping confirmation messages have a much higher click rate (45.77%) than order confirmations (25.35%)—which makes sense since people are clicking tracking links.
- Order confirmation messages sported a much higher conversion rate (8.61%) than shipping confirmations (3.02%).
Be sure to optimize your transactional messages—they have the power to be effective revenue-drivers.
SMS and Push Message Performance:
While email gathers the majority of attention, SMS, and push message marketing are two channels increasingly being adopted by both retailers and consumers. While both serve as excellent complementary channels to email, SMS is quickly becoming a channel that is effective both on its own and in tandem.
Let’s have a look at how these channels are being adopted by retailers and, more importantly, how consumers respond to them.
SMS as a marketing channel is increasing in usage by ecommerce businesses. In Q2 alone, there was a 239% lift in messages sent over the same period in 2019. Not only are companies increasingly sending them but, as an opt-in channel, consumers are increasingly wanting them.
Looking at performance, SMS messages generated a 14.8% click rate and a 2.13% conversion rate. This represents a 43% and 35% YoY lift respectively—meaning customers are engaging with them.
Even though there was a YoY increase in SMS messages sent, the percentage of email-to-SMS shifted drastically in 2020. In 2019, the percentage of SMS messages sent compared to the number of emails sent was 0.09%. This year, that number nearly doubled to 0.17%, indicating that not only are companies sending more SMS but they are relying on it as a fully-fledged marketing channel.
Take advantage of this new-normal and begin to collect mobile numbers along with email addresses. These messages are read quickly and can be included in the same automated workflows as your emails.
Like with SMS, push messages are another more “instantaneous” marketing channel increasingly being used by retailers—and we have seen a large increase in adoption so far in 2020. In Q2 alone, push messages have seen a 1,035% increase in messages sent compared to the same period in 2019.
During the second quarter in 2019, the volume of push messages sent compared to email messages was .01%. In 2020, that number rose to .04%. While that may seem small, this year more than a half-million push messages were sent in Q2 alone. While push messages are still in ‘relative infancy’ in terms of adoption, it is a rising channel.
In terms of performance, push messages gather an impressive 56.6% view rate, a 3.9% click rate, and a 16.5% conversion rate—a 184% lift YoY.
Like with email, we saw a YoY decrease in push click rates accompanied by an increase in conversion rates, signaling an intent on shopping and reliance on trusted, owned marketing channels. Open rates, still sitting at an impressive 56%, also saw a YoY decrease—which got us thinking.
Even though push message open rates decreased by 16%, a 56% view rate sounds pretty good. In assessing the drop we looked at the significant increase in use as a natural factor for it. As more DTC brands increased their use of push messages, there was an accompanying rise in testing and experimentation of use-cases, which can result in lower overall metrics.
INGLOT Canada is one brand who experimented and found success using them. They incorporated push messages into their cart abandonment workflow and experienced a 4,798% lift in revenue per message compared to cart abandonment emails.
While push messages haven’t yet become as mainstream as email and SMS, if used correctly, they can be a pretty effective marketing channel.
The Final Word: Ecommerce Takeaways
Email marketing, along with SMS and push messages, had a strong Q2. Coming off the heart of the pandemic they showed no signs of slowing down in performance. Likely adding to their success is the fact these channels are owned, meaning that since consumers willingly sign up for each channel, they are naturally more receptive to receiving brand messages—unlike with search and social media.
Online DTC brands should find ways to take advantage of these findings to accelerate their own ecommerce growth.
- As a trusted marketing channel, email marketing continues to improve in performance. Focus on optimizing all aspects of your email program, from having a solid ecommerce platform integration to the message content itself.
- Implement automated messages, such as welcome, cart abandonment, and browse abandonment. With 26% of conversions coming on less than 2% of email sends they’re too valuable to ignore.
- Optimize your transactional messages. These messages can serve as valuable revenue-drivers.
- Collect mobile numbers along with email addresses. SMS is on the rise—you can use it as both a stand-alone and tandem marketing tactic.
- Test the use of push messages and find where they work to capture sales—as INGLOT Canada did with their abandoned cart strategy.
Growing your online sales through marketing automation doesn’t have to be hard or time-consuming.Schedule your personal demo here, and see how Omnisend can help you increase your sales, not your workload.