Looking for a marketing edge?
Of course you are, but little did you know that the elusive edge may be closer than you realize.
Omnisend’s recently released yearly email and SMS marketing benchmark report analyzed more than 17 billion marketing emails and 107 million SMS sent by brands in 2022. It showed how deeply consumers used email and SMS as part of their shopping and product discovery journey as well as provided clues as to what makes the messages appealing to consumers.
Here are the primary email and SMS marketing highlights from the report and ways brands can apply these consumer shopping trends to gain an edge in 2023.
Overall Email Marketing Trends
Email marketing continues to be a core component of e-commerce brands’ online marketing strategies. Continuing its year-over-year (YoY) trend, brands sent 42 percent more email messages in 2022 than the year before, resulting in a 12 percent increase in email-related orders.
The reliance on email was also prevalent at a crucial time for retailers, Q4. YoY, email was responsible for a 13.8 percent increase in orders on Black Friday, a 34.4 percent increase during the Cyber 10, and an 18.7 percent increase in overall Q4 orders.
Along with increases in sends and orders came a little insight into what makes consumers engage with email. The top industry verticals in terms of customer click and conversion engagement all have an aspect of personal enjoyment to them, including hobbies and leisure, food and drink, and health and wellness.
Regardless of vertical, brands should lean into this and review their campaign content strategy to ensure their emails are customer-centric and have an emotional aspect to them. This can include actively promoting value-adds like friendly shipping and return policies, customer testimonials and product star ratings, loyalty programs, and SMS programs across all messages. These tactics will help build consumer confidence and increase the likelihood of future email engagement.
Email Automation Trends
Automated emails continue to be the way for brands to increase the effectiveness of their email marketing program, guide the customer shopping journey, and generate sales. In 2022, automated emails were responsible for 31.5 percent of all email marketing orders and only 1.8 percent of sends.
Looking deeper into the types of automated messages reveals which messages are most valuable within the shopper journey. Back-in-stock messages commanded the highest conversion rate of any automated message, coming in at 7.2 percent. In comparison, the conversion rate for scheduled promotional campaigns is 0.08 percent. Because back-in-stock messages are targeted and combine a sense of urgency, FOMO and social proof, brands would be smart to add them to their automated toolbox.
The traditional automation stalwarts, welcome and cart abandonment messages, round out the top three messages in terms of conversion rate, coming in at 3.0 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively. However, the biggest shift in strategy in 2022 came from how brands approached using automation in the middle of the shopper journey, one usually filled by paid search and paid social.
With the fluctuating cost of paid retargeting, brands put greater emphasis on the lower cost, more consistent performing email channel in the form of browse abandonment messages as a means to reengage lost visitors.
Browse abandonment messages — i.e., those sent to online shoppers who view products but don’t place them in their carts — saw the largest YoY increase in sends of any automated message. Brands sent an incredible 221 percent more messages YoY, resulting in a 51 percent increase in orders. In comparison, cart abandonment message sends increased by 36 percent YoY and welcome messages decreased by 2 percent YoY.
Brands are recognizing the direct sales impact automated messages can make when used to guide the shopping journey. Welcome, cart abandonment and browse abandonment messages — all sent at different stages of the customer journey — combine to account for nearly 82 percent of all automated email orders.
SMS Marketing Trends
SMS remains the not-so-new new kid on the block everyone wants a part of. SMS sends again increased in 2022, up 62.3 percent YoY. With a conversion rate of 0.19 percent, brands increased their SMS-related orders by 23.8 percent.
Interestingly, while overall SMS sends increased, automated SMS sends declined by 21 percent. Still, automated SMS orders increased more than 600 percent YoY. The reason for this dichotomy is simple but meaningful.
Brands went from including SMS in every automated email workflow to using them more selectively in high shopping intent workflows like cart abandonment. Therefore, the messages were more targeted and converted better.
SMS is an established opt-in marketing channel and there’s plenty of opportunity for brands to capitalize on it. Brands should be actively collecting mobile phone numbers along with email addresses and including SMS messages in their automated email workflows, especially high-intent ones like the welcome, cart abandonment and browse abandonment series.
Email and SMS marketing plays a vital, and still growing, role in the consumer purchase and product discovery journey. Brands that can use these channels wisely and make them more relevant to consumers will find themselves improving the branded customer experience, increasing sales, and reducing paid retargeting costs.
Greg Zakowicz is a veteran marketer and the senior e-commerce expert at Omnisend, the all-in-one e-commerce marketing automation platform.