Metrics Merry-Go-Round: Automated Emails Dominated In 2021, But Some Numbers Fell

Email marketers had a pretty good year in 2021 -- if you discount the anxiety caused by Apple’s iOS 15.

Open rates jumped by 59% versus the nine months prior to December, mostly due to the inflation produced by Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection program that went live in September. But that wasn’t the only change. 

First, there was the shift in conversion rates. 

Automated messages continued their dominance, generating 29.6% of all email marketing orders with 2.2% of the sends. But there were marked declines in conversions for some types of messages. 

Campaign emails achieved a 0.10% conversion -- a 14% increase YoY. In contrast, welcome emails pulled 2.81%. But that was down by 14.06%. 

The study attributes this decline to lapsed-buyer messages, which saw a 20.09% decline to 0.55%, and product review emails, which plummeted by 23.96% to 0.66%.  

But abandoned-cart messages saw the largest YoY increase of all non-transactional automated messages, at 13%.    



In contrast, order-confirmation messages saw a 2.4% conversion rate -- a 53% increase. And shipping confirmation messages had a 1.5% conversion -- a 24% uptick. 

Cross-sell emails hit 0.64%, for a 19.37 decline YoY. But abandoned-cart messages drove a 2.37% conversion rate -- a 12.93% increase over the prior year.   

To give this some context, Omnisend reports that brands sent 63% more promotional campaigns and 93% more automated emails in 2021.  

Then there were clicks.  

Email promotional campaigns saw an average click rate of 2.8%, a 1.37% increase YoY, and automated emails achieved 5.48%. a decrease of 15.7%. 

Why this falloff? It could be due to the rise in automated SMS messages, the study says.  Automated SMS increased in sends, and also produced a 20% increase in the conversion rate -- to 0.62%.

Shipping confirmation emails led to a 23.60% click rate, down 10.65% from the prior year. 

As for opens, promotional emails registered a 45.02% increase to 14.73% -- again likely due to MPP.

Opens also rose for most categories of automated emails, but not to the same degree: This was largely caused by “automated messages already commanding very high open rates, leaving less room for an artificial lift than promotional campaigns, the study notes.  

Of course, there’s no mistaking the main message of this study. It points out that 34% of email subscribers who click on an automated message go on to make a purchase, versus 7% of those who click on a campaign email. 

Moreover, while promotional emails generated 72 orders for every 1,000 sent, automated messages drove nearly 343 orders for every 1,000 automated emails.

But email is no longer the only channel. 

"Automated messages have outperformed promotional campaigns for years, and for a good reason, but it's no longer about a single channel," states Greg Zakowicz, Ecommerce Marketing Expert at Omnisend.. "Brands are smartly evolving to meet consumer preferences by sending relevant and timely automated messages to consumers via multiple channels of their choosing.”

Omnisend analyzed over 12 billion marketing emails, 63 million SMS, and 54 million web push messages sent by its merchants in 2021.

It determined  conversion rates by looking at attributed orders compared to total emails, SMS, and push messages sent. And it calculated click rates by looking at the number of clicks compared to the number of emails, SMS, and push messages sent. 



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