Ecommerce Email Marketing: Industry Performance Benchmarks


Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on February 15, 2018. It’s been updated as of the current publish date to reflect the most recent data. 


How many total sales were made during the 2018 Cyber Weekend? $20.5 billion, according to TechCrunch. And that figure was up nearly 20 percent over 2017.

With more than 165 million people shopping for themselves and others, according to Forbes, this holiday shopping weekend is like the Superbowl for ecommerce. 

This year’s Cyber Weekend is fast-approaching, so it’s critical for brands to lay the proper foundation now so they can maximize their holiday season sales. 

As brands look to improve their marketing strategies ahead of the holidays and for the year ahead, it’s common to wonder what others in the ecommerce world are doing and how their strategies and tactics are performing for their brand. 

But what exactly does “good” look like, anyway? What is the average conversion rate for email marketing? What is a good conversion rate for email marketing? The answer: it depends. Your metrics will vary based on your business, your audience, and what strategies you put in place. 

To help you benchmark your performance, Klaviyo reviewed the email performance of more than 18,000 customers, across 13 different industries, during the full 2018 calendar year. We looked at campaigns and automated flows, including welcome emails, abandoned cart emails, browse abandonment emails, and winback emails. 

Across everything, we looked at five key metrics. Here’s how we calculated them:

Metric Formula
Open Rate (Open) Opens/Number of Emails Delivered
Clickthrough Rate (CTR) Clicks/Number of Emails Delivered
Conversion Rate (Conversion) Orders Placed/Number of Emails Delivered
Revenue Per Recipient (RPR) Revenue/Number of Emails Delivered
Average Order Value (AOV) Revenue/Orders Placed

Use these benchmark performance figures when you test things like your subject lines, email content, and calls-to-action as you prepare for both 2019’s Cyber Weekend and the year ahead.  


Campaign Industry Performance

As you browse through the data in the following tables, you may wonder, “Why are the metrics for campaigns lower than the metrics for automated flows?” 

Across all industries, this is the case because it’s typically much more difficult to get subscribers to convert on a campaign email than it is to get them to convert on an automated flow email. This could be due to several factors, but one reason is that customers may not have been actively engaged before receiving the campaign email.

With automated flow emails, shoppers have actively engaged in behaviors, like shopping onsite or their past purchase behavior, that trigger an automated email.

Take an abandoned cart email, for example. Say a shopper engages with your brand by visiting your site and adding an item to their cart. Shortly afterward, they get an email featuring the product they left in their cart. Not everyone gets this email. It’s specific to the person who took the specific action of leaving this particular item in their cart. 

Here are the email performance benchmarks for campaigns across 13 different industries.

Industry Open CTR Conversion RPR AOV
Animal & Pet Care 12.60% 1.10% 0.08% $0.05 $57.88
Arts & Crafts 14.20% 1.80% 0.13% $0.13 $98.51
Automobile & Parts 15.80% 1.60% 0.08% $0.17 $220.71
Beauty & Cosmetics 10.80% 1.00% 0.10% $0.06 $65.81
Computers, Electronics & Acc. 13.80% 1.10% 0.06% $0.05 $77.23
Fashion & Apparel 11.40% 1.30% 0.08% $0.08 $96.83
Food & Beverage 12.60% 1.10% 0.16% $0.15 $93.67
Garden & Home Goods 12.20% 1.10% 0.08% $0.09 $116.79
Health & Fitness 12.50% 1.20% 0.15% $0.09 $60.61
Jewelry & Accessories 11.60% 1.20% 0.09% $0.07 $75.22
Media & Entertainment 17.30% 1.90% 0.09% $0.03 $29.06
Outdoor & Wilderness Gear 14.60% 2.50% 0.09% $0.10 $113.54
Toys & Games 13.10% 1.80% 0.11% $0.14 $129.11
AVERAGE ACROSS INDUSTRIES 11.81% 1.24% 0.09% $0.08 $86.07

While businesses across all industries get a boost in revenue from sending campaigns, both the health and fitness industry and the food and beverage industry saw the highest conversion rates (0.15 percent and 0.16 percent, respectively). 

Looking to improve the conversion rates of your campaigns? Here are four tips and additional resources. 

  1. Use data to drive ecommerce email campaigns.
  2. Finetune your audience with targeted segmentation.
  3. Optimize your email subject lines.
  4. Find the right time to send your campaigns.

Next, let’s take a look at the email performance benchmarks for automated series across the same industries.


Automated Flow Emails Industry Performance

What’s an automated flow email? It’s a single email or series of emails sent to a subscriber based on an action that triggers the email. 

Say you have a subscriber on your site and they abandon their cart while shopping. That action can trigger a series of emails that use the data from that shopper’s abandoned cart to entice the shopper to return to the site and make their purchase.

Let’s take a look at how several automated flow emails performed.


Automated Flow: Welcome Series

When you consider which automated flows are the most important to set up, a welcome series is at the top of the list next to an abandoned cart flow. With an average conversion rate of three percent, a welcome series is a great way to reach subscribers when they’re most interested. 

The series also serves as an opportunity to make a good first impression with a subscriber—after all, they gave you their email address and opted in to communications from your brand. Many brands offer a time-sensitive incentive in their welcome series to drive quick first purchases, too.

Here are the email performance benchmarks for welcome series across the same 13 industries we looked at earlier.

Industry Open CTR Conversion RPR AOV
Animal & Pet Care 17.60% 3.10% 0.71% $0.31 $43.71
Arts & Crafts 27.00% 5.50% 4.24% $2.90 $68.57
Automobile & Parts 25.40% 6.10% 2.84% $6.69 $235.70
Beauty & Cosmetics 32.80% 6.60% 3.83% $1.99 $51.88
Computers, Electronics & Acc. 24.70% 3.60% 2.04% $1.42 $69.50
Fashion & Apparel 26.00% 4.90% 3.47% $3.27 $94.20
Food & Beverage 26.80% 5.50% 2.31% $1.56 $67.60
Garden & Home Goods 25.40% 4.90% 3.09% $5.58 $180.43
Health & Fitness 26.20% 4.90% 3.02% $2.24 $74.03
Jewelry & Accessories 25.10% 4.60% 2.53% $2.29 $90.48
Media & Entertainment 20.30% 2.30% 2.70% $1.07 $39.52
Outdoor & Wilderness Gear 32.10% 7.60% 2.54% $3.36 $132.35
Toys & Games 28.10% 5.50% 5.19% $3.40 $65.53
AVERAGE ACROSS INDUSTRIES 26.50% 5.10% 3.04% $2.71 $89.21

The industries that saw the best conversion rates with their welcome series are arts and crafts (27 percent open rate and 4.24 percent conversion rate) and toys and game shops (28.10 percent open rate and 5.19 percent conversion rate). 

Looking for more resources on how to improve the conversion rates of your welcome series? Learn more about the power of a welcome series and how to revamp your welcome series.  


Automated Flow: Abandoned Carts

Abandoned cart automated flows are usually the first or second flow that ecommerce shops put in place because they’re easy to set up and they tend to drive a significant amount of revenue. In fact, approximately 3,000 customers in this data set recovered more than $60 million in abandoned cart revenue in just three months using an abandoned cart email series. Because these emails are time-sensitive and highly targeted to the individual subscriber, they have conversion rates that are 3x greater than other automated flow emails on average. 

Here are the email performance benchmarks for abandoned cart automated flows. 

Industry Open CTR Conversion RPR AOV
Animal & Pet Care 21.30% 5.10% 3.06% $2.24 $73.12
Arts & Crafts 29.10% 8.70% 7.63% $6.95 $91.03
Automobile & Parts 32.20% 8.80% 10.44% $29.82 $285.78
Beauty & Cosmetics 25.80% 5.20% 3.31% $2.17 $65.53
Computers, Electronics & Acc. 23.50% 5.30% 3.59% $3.59 $99.89
Fashion & Apparel 18.40% 4.10% 2.31% $1.90 $82.18
Food & Beverage 33.20% 9.10% 7.99% $7.33 $91.66
Garden & Home Goods 18.20% 4.5% 2.76% $3.95 $143.22
Health & Fitness 28.00% 6.60% 6.02% $6.39 $106.11
Jewelry & Accessories 19.40% 4.30% 2.42% $1.94 $80.14
Media & Entertainment 36.40% 10.40% 7.76% $8.69 $112.10
Outdoor & Wilderness Gear 29.60% 10.50% 8.82% $9.06 $102.68
Toys & Games 21.90% 6.20% 5.33% $4.49 $84.18
AVERAGE ACROSS INDUSTRIES 20.50% 4.60% 2.86% $2.58 $90.31

The industries that saw the best conversion rates with their abandoned cart email series are automobile and parts (32.20 percent open rate and 10.44 percent conversion rate) and outdoor and wilderness gear (29.60 percent open rate and 8.82 percent conversion rate).  

While some industries stand out in terms of their performance, every ecommerce store should prioritize creating an abandoned cart series given the high performance rates across all industries and categories.

Want to learn more about how to increase your abandoned cart email conversion rates? Check out this benchmark report and this article about how to strategically plan and time your abandoned cart emails. 


Automated Flow: Winbacks

A winback series of emails is a critical part of customer lifecycle marketing. You can use these automated emails to re-engage inactive customers who haven’t made a purchase from your store in a while. Winning back previous customers is a key growth strategy given how much it costs to acquire new customers. New customer acquisition costs are estimated to cost nearly five times more than the cost to retain an existing customer, according to invesp. And increasing your customer retention rate, even by 5 percent, can help to increase profits by 25-95 percent, according to Bain & Company.  

 Here are the email performance benchmarks for winback flows.

Industry Open CTR Conversion RPR AOV
Animal & Pet Care 13.90% 1.80% 1.20% $0.59 $49.43
Arts & Crafts 24.00% 5.40% 2.97% $1.99 $67.08
Automobile & Parts 15.70% 0.70% 0.08% $0.13 $160.47
Beauty & Cosmetics 15.60% 1.60% 0.63% $0.36 $57.59
Computers, Electronics & Acc. 6.90% 0.80% 0.30% $0.20 $66.37
Fashion & Apparel 12.80% 1.70% 0.93% $0.56 $59.94
Food & Beverage 23.10% 4.10% 2.61% $1.46 $55.86
Garden & Home Goods 16.70% 2.10% 0.80% $0.64 $79.91
Health & Fitness 11.40% 1.70% 1.18% $0.92 $77.62
Jewelry & Accessories 15.10% 2.80% 1.03% $0.54 $52.62
Media & Entertainment 22.70% 4.80% 1.92% $0.98 $51.20
Outdoor & Wilderness Gear 24.90% 6.30% 4.46% $2.23 $49.89
Toys & Games 20.50% 3.30% 2.07% $1.93 $93.43
AVERAGE ACROSS INDUSTRIES 14.00% 1.80% 0.89% $0.55 $62.01

We were surprised to see the conversion rates for winback emails were highest for the outdoor and wilderness gear industry (4.46 percent average). We thought products more consumable in nature (such as food and beverage) that need to be regularly replenished would have higher conversion rates than products that are more of a want in nature (like camping gear) because they’re typically bought more frequently and with greater need. 

But food and beverage brands came in not too far behind and we found 76 percent of the top performers in this industry use a winback series.

Want to work on your winback email strategy? Here are three types of winback emails, insight on when to send your winback series, and thoughts on how you can run a re-engagement campaign


Automated Flow: Browse Abandonment

Most people who visit your website for the first time aren’t usually there to purchase, but a browse abandonment email could help. 

When someone visits your site, views a product, but doesn’t add it to their cart or purchase, you would send them a browse abandonment email if they’ve given you their email address. 

A browse abandonment series helps you send automated, targeted emails to shoppers who viewed a particular product on your website. These emails help move people further down the buying cycle. They’ve already discovered your brand, they’re interacting on your website, but they may need a few more personal touchpoints to be ready to purchase. 

Browse abandonment emails have the highest average open rates (28 percent) out of any automated flows. They also generate the second-highest average gross revenue per recipient ($89.94). This automated flow is an easy and smart way to drive re-engagement and recover potentially lost revenue.

Industry Open CTR Conversion RPR AOV
Animal & Pet Care 36.40% 5.20% 2.20% $1.35 $61.42
Arts & Crafts 44.90% 9.90% 3.13% $2.25 $72.07
Automobile & Parts 31.60% 5.60% 1.05% $2.89 $274.12
Beauty & Cosmetics 30.80% 4.50% 1.18% $0.77 $64.74
Computers, Electronics & Acc. 37.00% 6.20% 2.07% $1.77 $85.44
Fashion & Apparel 23.40% 3.70% 0.97% $0.85 $88.55
Food & Beverage 40.20% 6.40% 4.71% $3.45 $73.26
Garden & Home Goods 27.50% 4.30% 1.41% $2.08 $147.16
Health & Fitness 25.60% 6.50% 2.93% $2.37 $81.05
Jewelry & Accessories 31.60% 5.70% 1.98% $1.50 $75.85
Media & Entertainment 38.30% 6.10% 2.68% $2.16 $80.58
Outdoor & Wilderness Gear 40.80% 10.40% 2.24% $2.55 $113.55
Toys & Games 35.50% 6.30% 2.77% $3.06 $110.37
AVERAGE ACROSS INDUSTRIES 28.20% 4.60% 1.38% $1.24 $89.94

The industries that saw the best open and conversion rates with their browse abandonment emails are food and beverage (40.20 percent open rate and 4.71 percent conversion rate) and arts and crafts (44.90 percent open rate and 3.13 percent conversion rate). 

Looking for more resources to help you improve your browse abandonment email flow? Here’s an article containing everything you need to know about browse abandonment emails, tips on browse abandonment A/B tests you can run, and examples of the best browse abandonment subject lines

Key Takeaway

Benchmarks are a useful way to gauge your email marketing performance, but when looking at them it’s important to keep in mind that “good” is a subjective term. Metrics like open rates, clickthrough rates, conversion rates, revenue per recipient, and average order value will all vary based on your specific business, your particular audience, and your chosen marketing strategy. Use these benchmarks and resources to lay a solid foundation in the coming weeks with your holiday email marketing strategy so you can maximize your 2019 Cyber Weekend sales and your sales for the year ahead. 


Learn more about how building relationships and planning ahead impact Cyber Weekend sales. 

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