Finding the right amount of triggered emails for your ecommerce store

How many emails should I be sending in my flows (also known as autoresponders or triggered emails)? It’s a question that we get asked often.

While many ecommerce marketers believe it is in between 1-3 emails, we decided to dive into the data and look for a data-driven answer.

We looked at 3 of our most popular flows: abandoned cart, welcome series, and win-back emails. Combined, these three triggered emails totaled over 16 thousand messages sent to over 97 million people.

Here’s what our benchmarks were:

Flow type Open rate Click rate Revenue per recipient
Welcome series 44.24% 9.50% $1.68
Abandoned cart 43.61% 8.68% $5.81
Win-back 32.90% 7.69% $0.39

The first thing you might notice is that the statistics for the win-back series are significantly lower than the other two. That makes sense, the purpose of this flow is to “win back” customers.

Also, abandoned carts have the highest revenue per recipient (RPR). Which is understandable, these are the people that came the closest to purchasing a product. All they needed was a little push across the finish line.

Now that we have our averages, let’s look at the data to see how many emails per flow is the right amount of emails.

Starting with Welcome Series flow.

Welcome series

The number of emails you send in your welcome series is very important. You don’t want to set a bad example and oversend. This might prompt your new subscriber to unsubscribe early. But you also want to provide them with enough information to develop a strong relationship with the goal of getting them to convert early.

So how many emails is the right amount of emails? Let’s take a look.

Emails Open rate Click rate Revenue per recipient
1 65.72% 14.34% $4.14
2 42.51% 7.74% $0.96
3 34.71% 6.76% $0.56
4 32.16% 5.73%% $0.45
5 30.29% 5.22% $0.42
6 28.18% 4.56% $0.33
7 27.36% 4.62% $0.31

Open rate

The first email in the series performs the best, and no surprise, they just joined your newsletter. Which means they’re excited about what you have to offer resulting in a high open rate. The second email performs just below the average but still produces a great open rate.

And then they begin to lose interest a little, dropping 10% below the average. Although it drops, we still see open rates above 30% (that’s still really good).

Based on open rate alone, you should stop sending after email #3.

Click rate

Not much of a difference here. Great performance from email #1, slightly below average from email #2, and a respectable click rate from #3.

Looks like we’re starting to see a trend.

Revenue per recipient

Here is where it gets interesting.

In our first email, RPR performs 146% higher than the average. That’s huge! But then it drops more than $3 in email #2 and closer to $4 in email #3.

Based on the data, I recommend sending 3 emails in your welcome series.

Testing is key. If you’re seeing high engagement and low unsubscribes from your welcome series after 3 emails, then begin thinking about extending your welcome series.

Abandoned cart

One of our highest converting flows, the number of emails to send in your abandoned cart series is a commonly asked question.

To find our answer, I looked at individual email performance of 7761 messages sent to 56 million people and broke it down by open rate, click rate, and revenue per recipient.

Emails Open rate Click rate Revenue per recipient
1 52.52% 11.00% $8.65
2 43.58% 10.06% $5.55
3 39.70% 8.78% $3.19
4 35.25% 6.98% $3.89
5 30.69% 5.86% $1.31
6 29.36% 5.30% $1.26
7 27.28% 4.22% $1.89

Open rate

So no surprise here— the first email in the series averages an open rate 10% higher than our datasets average. That’s amazing!

But it doesn’t stop there, email’s 2 and 3 are also hovering right around the benchmark average.

After that, our open rates begin to drop, and fast. If you’re looking at open rate alone, this is where you should stop sending. The lower your open rate drops, the more likely you are to hurt your sending reputation.  ISP’s determine email deliverability in many ways, it’s good to know exactly how.

Click rate

Click rate is in the same boat as open rate. The first email performs extremely well at 11.00%, 1.5% higher than the average.

The second and third emails are also up there with click rates that hover around the average.

After that, you’ll see a similar drop off that you saw in open rates.

We’re starting to see a trend here.

Revenue per recipient

Here we have our money making stat, revenue per recipient.

The first email in the series performed the best with an RPR of $8.65, $3.14 above the average. Good sign.

The second email drops a little but still comes in above the average. These numbers make sense. The first two emails are sent while the product is still fresh in the customer’s mind, resulting in higher performance.

From here their performance starts to drop. Email 3 and 4 are below the average but still have a very respectable RPR. After that, no bueno.

In conclusion, the data is telling me that the right amount of emails in an abandoned cart series is 3-4 emails. In each of the categories, you see a significant dropoff after the email number after 4 emails.

If you want to learn more about abandoned cart emails, check out these 11 resources to help increase conversions.

Win-back

Win-back emails are sent with the goal of reactivating those subscribers who have gone awhile without opening emails or purchasing. So naturally, its performance is going to be a little lower than your other flows.

Emails Open rate Click rate Revenue per recipient
1 36.83% 8.12% $0.49
2 31.34% 7.91% $0.32
3 28.48% 6.15% $0.44
4 26.51% 6.17% $0.18
5 27.01% 5.34% $0.36
6 27.22% 6.65% $0.48
7 27.46% 4.02% $0.15

Open rate

At first glance these aren’t the best open rates, but you have to take into consideration that these are customers that haven’t been interacting with your organization in some time. With our average being around 32%, the first email comes in with an open rate 4% higher than the average.

The second email, again, hovers around the average and the third email drops even further.

If we’re basing our decision based on open rate, then stick to two emails.

Click rate

No game changers here.

The first email is well above the average, second hovering right above, and the third dropping drastically.

This tells me you should stick to 2 emails.

Revenue per recipient

Even making one sale on a win-back email is a win. With the average RPR being $0.39, our first email comes in 10 cents higher. And then it drops. But weirdly enough, email number 3 comes in almost as high as email 1.

Although you’d be leaving money on the table, I still recommend sending 2 emails. If you keep sending to unengaged subscribers, you risk damaging your sending reputation.

In conclusion, 2 emails are the right amount of emails for a win-back flow.

Putting it all together

Although our data is telling us to send a specific number of emails, remember that this might not work for everyone. We’ve seen companies who are successful sending a single email and others that are successful sending a dozen.

It’s all about testing and finding out what works best with your audience.

If you haven’t completely figured out what your audience looks like, start off with these number of emails:

  • Abandoned cart: 3-4 emails
  • Welcome series: 3 emails
  • Win-back: 2 emails
Phil Weltman
Phil is on the marketing team here at Klaviyo. He's super excited to help marketers take their email marketing strategy to the next level. Prior to marketing, Phil spent a year on the growth team helping lead the charge to build a digital marketing platform for nonprofits and fundraising organizations.
Showing 3 comments
  • greg

    Interesting analysis, thanks!

  • Matt

    Great post Phil. Useful stuff knowing how not to annoy your customers.
    I know myself that I switch off after the first few emails when I’ve signed up for something. It’s not because I’m not interested but because the novelty sometimes wears off a tad and there is so much noise in my inbox.

    Matt

  • Phil Weltman

    Thanks Greg and Matt! Glad you guys enjoyed the post

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