The Pandemic Barometer: Email Opens Are Up, But Revenue Down In Some Sectors

Bad news continues to pile up, but the pandemic has led to one gain for ecommerce brands — higher email open rates, according to a study by the SaaS technology provider now rebranding itself as Wunderkind.

Email opens shot up by 17% from March 12 to March 18 as more consumers shifted from mobile to desktop, in part because of work-at-home needs and social distancing, according to BounceX data.

But this was accompanied by staggering revenue drops in some ecommerce categories as brands slashed their ad budgets by anywhere from 40% to 70%, the study says.

The study is largely based on Week Over Week (WoW) metrics from the week of March 5 to March 11 to the week of March 12-18. 

The results? “Since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 “a global pandemic, email open rates have seen a 13% lift, with a slight disproportionate dip in email click rate.

The highest ecommerce opens WoW were for relatively low-ticket items, and the lowest for more expensive products:

  • Intimates — 15%
  • Gifts — 14%
  • Education — 14%
  • Food — 11%
  • Luxury — 7%
  • Beauty — 6%
  • Lifestyle — 6%
  • Health — 5%
  • Art Supplies — 5%
  • Fashion & Apparel — 5%
  • Electronics — 3%
  • Home — 5%
  • Automotive — 5%
  • Telecom & B2B — 2%
  • Jewelry — 2%



However, what they opened isn’t necessarily what they ordered. The intimates sector suffered a 25% fall in conversions and a 15% revenue decrease.

Education did the worst of all, with a 46% decline in conversions and a 48% hit in revenue. The luxury field also fared poorly.

Why this dismal performance? Because these items are non-essential, the study notes.

In contrast, food purveyors enjoyed a 69% in conversions and a 75% revenue uptick as people stocked up. 

Electronics were a distant second, with a 45% conversion rate and a 50% revenue rise. The Home category enjoyed a 38% conversion rate and 36% hike in revenue. 

In general, email’s performance has been flat, producing a 1.45% lift in conversions and a 0.40% lift in revenue. But there was “a proportionally smaller decrease in email performance relative to their decreases in overall performance.”

The study says that for “retailers where triggered emails make up a large percentage of their email revenue, the decrease in traffic that occurs as paid media efforts are scaled back will result in less than normal send volume,” the study notes. 

However, “the increase in email conversion rates have kept that channel steady,” the study adds. 

In the end, marketers have to adjust to the new environment.

"Industry-wide email frequency is likely to increase in light of this shift in behavior, which will necessitate brands increasing their email to keep up," it says.

That would entail “a diverse email program that balances transactional and content driven messaging will reduce list fatigue during this time,” it adds.



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