The first half (H1) of 2021 is already in the books, and we are coming up on not only the holiday season but also the impending death of the email open rate, thanks to the iOS 15 privacy update. For ecommerce brands, understanding which channels are seeing increased adoption and performance, and which tactics are paying the largest dividends, is essential for increasing ecommerce sales.
At the beginning of 2022, we released a new annual ecommerce statistics report with main takeaways from 2021.
Like with our previous ecommerce statistics reports, we analyzed all messages sent through the Omnisend marketing platform in the first half of 2021—over 10 billion emails, nearly 25 million SMS, and 20 million web push messages. We compared these metrics to the performance from 2019 and 2020.
This report references three types of messages: campaigns, automated, and transactional.
- Campaigns: Manually scheduled emails sent by a brand (ex. Valentine’s Day sale).
- Automated: Emails sent automatically by an Omnisend workflow, triggered by user behavior, such as abandoning a shopping cart.
- Transactional: Non-marketing emails related to a “transaction,” or purchase, where information is provided and no opt-in is required.
Ecommerce Statistics Summary
What’s clear from this report is that opt-in marketing channels continue to be trusted, go-to sources for consumers along their shopping journey. Established channels like email continue to perform well while rising channels like SMS and web push notification have become more popular than ever.
The conversion rates for promotional email campaigns increased in the first half of the year to 6.82%, from 6.49% in 2020. As strong as this is, it pales in comparison to automated messages, which saw a 33.19% conversion rate.
It’s clear that automated emails are the path to increasing email marketing sales. In H1, they were responsible for 32% of all email marketing orders and only 2.4% of sends.
Over the past 18+ months, we have seen a steady increase in open and conversion rates. However, this is accompanied by a decrease in click-to-open rate (CTOR) (the number of clicks divided by the number of opens). This simply indicates an increase in intent-based shopping. Relevant messaging, including automation, is the key to turning intent into action.
One final word on email for now—the conversion opportunity doesn’t end after a sale. One in every four customers who click on an order confirmation message goes on to make another purchase. Ecommerce brands would be wise to optimize their transactional messages for additional sales opportunities.
SMS and Push Messaging:
SMS has joined email as a must-have marketing channel and brands need to start collecting mobile numbers if they aren’t. SMS recorded an 11% click-through rate (CTR) (the number of clicks divided by the number of messages sent) and a 2.4% conversion rate. Omnisend customers are on pace to send more than three times the number of SMS than they did in 2020. To put that in perspective, welcome emails were the only automated message to have more sends than SMS.
Brands are also increasingly utilizing web push messages. While a newer channel, it’s following the same trajectory as SMS. In only six months, Omnisend customers sent over 20 million messages (nearly double those sent in all of 2020) while conversion rates for web push messages are an astounding 35.7%—meaning one of every three people who click on them make a purchase. Be an early adopter and begin using them to increase sales.
As strong as the performance of each individual channel was in the first half, they are stronger when used together. Combining email, SMS, and web push messages in the same automated workflow allows ecommerce brands to provide a consistent, more unified, and relevant customer journey.
2021 Email Marketing Conversion Rates
In H1, conversion rates for both scheduled promotional campaigns and automations continued their climb from 2020:
- Campaigns increased from 6.49% to 6.82%
- Automated messages increased from 29.75% to 33.19%
It’s no secret that automated messages are a lever for increasing sales. Through the first half of 2021, automated messages generated 32% of all email marketing orders with only 2.4% of sends. This is an increase from the 29% of orders seen in 2020.
Overall, automated messages see a conversion rate nearly four times better than scheduled promotional campaigns. When it comes to the revenue impact of these messages, it’s important for brands to recognize this and implement and optimize messages accordingly.
The highest converting automated marketing messages in H1, not including transactional emails, were welcome messages (52.9%), abandoned cart (39.7%), post-purchase cross-sell (20%), lapsed-purchase (19.8%), and product abandonment (17.9%). As you can see from the performance table below, any automated message performs better than a promotional campaign (6.82%). Talk about increasing your sales, not your workload.
H1, 2021 Email Marketing Conversion Rates
Lift Over Campaigns
How Kerrits automates nearly a quarter of their email marketing sales
2021 Email Marketing Click Rates
In past reports, we reported only the CTOR and not the CTR, as CTOR typically shows a more direct measure of email engagement. However, with the impending iOS 15 changes making open rates unreliable and therefore dead, CTOR will suffer the same fate. Below, we will report on both of these metrics for two reasons:
1. Reporting CTOR will make it easier to relate back to and compare previous report results.
2. CTR will provide a baseline for measuring your metrics moving forward.
CTR for promotional campaigns in 2021 ended H1 at 1.47%, up from 1.41% in 2020. For automated messages, the CTR was expectedly better, ending at 5.68%. That’s nearly three times higher than promotional campaigns (286%).
When it comes to CTOR, campaigns ended the first half at 12.58%, while automated messages finished with 17.96%.
We have seen a general decline in click rates and an increase in conversion metrics over the past 18+ months, indicating an increase in intent-based shopping. As sends and opens continue to increase due to consumers’ preference for trusted opt-in channels, this trend seems to remain constant.
H1, 2021 Email Marketing Click Rates
CTOR Lift Over Campaigns
CTR Lift Over Campaigns
2021 Email Marketing Open Rates
Note: Open rates of scheduled promotional campaigns are one of the most challenging email metrics to benchmark. List management and hygiene, the number of unengaged contacts, segmentation, send cadence, and the use of Booster sends (remails) on a per-client basis impacts overall 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.
This will be one of the last times we report on open rates because, as we know, open rates will soon be dead. Open rates for promotional campaigns increased and ended H1 at 11.69%.
Automated messages performed nearly two times better (31.63%). And just like conversion rates, the open rate of any automated message outperforms promotional campaigns.
H1, 2021 Email Marketing Open Rates
Lift Over Campaigns
2021 Transactional Message Performance
Order and shipping confirmation messages present prime opportunities for DTC brands to increase their email marketing sales. These messages are highly read and clicked on, and each person who does is already a customer—making each conversion more profitable than the last.
In H1, these messages generated a:
- 56.7% open rate
- 21.3% CTOR
- 12.1% CTR
- 18.2% conversion rate
Order confirmation messages convert especially well at 26%—meaning one in four who clicked on the order confirmation message made another purchase.
While order confirmations convert better than the 6.5% rate of shipping confirmations, the latter (because people click to track their orders) generate a higher CTR (24.2% vs. 9.0% for order confirmations).
H1, 2021 Order Confirmation Email Statistics
H1, 2021 Shipping Confirmation Email Statistics
Next Steps for Email Marketers
Ecommerce brands can use this data to identify gaps and strengthen their marketing programs by applying the following lessons:
- Automation is critical for increasing sales. Implement as many messages as you can, especially welcome, cart abandonment, and browse/product abandonment messages.
- Implement one automated message at a time. Because they perform so well they can earn revenue while you work on other messages.
- Use workflow splits to optimize your automated emails, such as by splitting messages based on purchase history.
- Optimize transactional messages for cross-sell by including product recommendations and purchaser-only offers inside of these messages.
- Maximize click opportunities within your messages by promoting competitive differentiators and value-adds such as free shipping, return policies, and satisfaction guarantees.
- Again, set up automated messages—they’re proven to perform better than promotional campaigns.
- Invite customers to sign up for both your SMS and email program (remember, not all customers are active subscribers) inside your transactional messages.
Prepare your email marketing program for a world void of open rates by doing the following:
- Focus on writing effective subject lines—and test them now.
- Use pre-header text to support the subject line.
- Prepare your marketing automation for iOS 15.
2021 SMS Marketing Statistics
SMS marketing had a breakout year in 2020, with double the conversion rates and 378% more SMS sent than in 2019. As it turns out, SMS was only getting started. Omnisend customers continued to use SMS actively as consumers increasingly turned to SMS as a preferred opt-in channel.
The click rate for SMS messages ended the first half at 11.02%, and the conversion rate finished at 2.44%.
As a trusted opt-in channel, SMS sales continue to increase year over year. There is no doubt that during the holidays, when SMS sends and sales historically increase dramatically, SMS will be a go-to marketing channel for brands. And with the death of the open rate of email, we expect SMS to fill the void that remailing email non-openers once occupied.
H1, 2021 SMS Marketing Statistics
Next Steps for Ecommerce Brands
If you’re not using SMS by next year, you’ll be playing catch up. It’s important for ecommerce brands to take full advantage of SMS as a consumer-preferred marketing channel by applying these lessons:
- Collect mobile numbers along with email addresses on all sign-up forms.
- Include a callout to join your SMS program inside of all of your emails.
- Include SMS messages into the same automated workflows as your emails. This will provide subscribers with a unified and relevant experience on their preferred channel(s).
- Use SMS for last-chance reminders, flash sales, and to cut through crowded inboxes on high send days, such as Black Friday.
See how Divatress grew their SMS subscribers by 70K in eight months
2021 Web Push Message Statistics
SMS had amazing growth in H1. Consider 2021 the coming out party for web push messages. Through the first half, Omnisend customers sent nearly double the amount of web push messages than all of 2020.
Conversion rates ended H1 at 35.66%. Brands that utilize web push messages see one of every three people who click on them go on to make a purchase. Talk about effective!
While conversion rates are up, open and click rates for the first half are both down from 2020. Open rates ended the half at a healthy 26.5%, while the CTOR ended H1 at 2.13%.
Experimenting with where and when to deploy these messages can initially lead to lower open and click performance. Considering the massive increase in sends, we expect this to be the case. But when brands figure it out, they reap the rewards.
H1, 2021 Push Message Marketing Statistics
Next Steps for Ecommerce Brands:
Brands saw the continued rise in SMS and are now seeing the same trends with push messages. To take advantage of an opt-in channel that converts exceedingly well, brands should apply these lessons:
- Begin testing the use of web push messages. Shopping cart abandonment is a great place to start.
- Consider using web push on high-volume shopping days, especially Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
- Include push messages into the same automated workflows as SMS and email.
See how Black Halo generates a $48 earning-per-message using web push messages inside of their abandoned cart automation.
Closing Out H1, 2021
Successful brands recognize how customers want companies to engage with them and how to maximize their time to generate the highest marketing ROI. Increasing online sales is about recognizing which channels are trusted by consumers, the tactics that convert the best, and the tools that can help them execute a unified strategy.
Automated messages are a proven tactic for increasing sales. SMS has become a must-have marketing channel. And web push messages are following in SMS’ footsteps, with early adopters seeing one in three people who engage with them make a purchase.
Small businesses may have limited time, but not limited growth. Having multiple marketing tools in the same platform can maximize sales and reduce cost while delivering customers what they want—a unified and relevant customer journey.
See how Omnisend can help you increase your sales, not your workload.