SmartEtailing Blog

You've Got (E)Mail

By Andrew Smith


A Year of Email Marketing Reviewed

Email is a major part of a great retail marketing strategy. Having the ability to send marketing materials directly to your customers is gold at a time when search and social algorithms are constantly changing. As more people adopt social media in its various forms, the number of messages seen by a customer on any given day is in the thousands. All of it carefully delivered based on equations and computer processes. Email does not work this way.

Email is still unique to the customer. Customers receive emails based on whether or not they have opened previous emails from the sender. It is not determined by what cat video they watch on repeat. Because of this, the likelihood that your marketing messages reach their intended audience is significantly higher.

To give some context to how successful email marketing can be, let's compare engagement rates on social media to those in the average inbox. A good engagement rate on platforms like Facebook or Instagram ranges from 1% to 3%. For every 100 people that see your post, if three people like, comment, or share, you are doing amazing.

What does that look like for email? Retailers using popular email marketing platforms see open rates of 16% and click rates of 2%. That means for every 100 people receiving an email message, 16 of them are engaging by opening the email. Those people are viewing the content void of any other posts surrounding it. On top of that, an average of 2 people are taking the next step and visiting the sender's website, engaging with content.

This is phenomenal considering the ever-increasing amount of messaging going out and the decreasing amount of time we have to focus on those messages. To take a look at this from the bicycle retailers perspective, we audited the email marketing of our Elite level partners. This snapshot not only shows us how the bicycle industry is doing compared to the rest of the retail world, but can give us some key areas to focus in on to improve our marketing efforts.

Crunching the Number

For our audit we decided to focus in on a few key performance indicators, or KPIs. There is a lot of data that can be pulled from email marketing stats, but these four provide the most focused information.

  • Open Rate: Percentage of recipients who opened the email.
  • Click Rate: Percentage of those who opened the email and clicked a link
  • Bounce Rate: Percentage of emails that were undeliverable
  • Unsubscribe Rate: Percentage of recipients who opted out sender's list

These numbers will be able to tell you how successful your email marketing efforts are. By assessing the interactions of your subscribers, adjustments can be made to improve any one of the KPIs and increase your overall marketing success.

The Results

These numbers represent an average of our Elite level partners and do not represent a specific bicycle retailer. If you are a SmartEtailing marketing customer, reach out to your account representative to discuss your specific email marketing numbers.

  Bike Shop Average Retail Benchmark*
Open Rate 19% 16%
Click Rate 2% 2%
Bounce Rate† 0.65% 0.42%
Unsubscribe Rate† 0.42% 0.24%

*Retail Benchmark is based on MailChimp and MailerLites industry averages for retail businesses. † For these stats, lower is better.

Next Steps

There are many things that affect the KPIs looked at above. Some of them are beyond anyone's control. These are things like the customer’s internet connection, the environment they are checking emails in, or even notifications on their phone. Let’s look at the things we can control.

Weekday Sent

A majority of our Elite partners send out emails on Thursday or Friday. Studies have shown Tuesday to be the best day to send marketing emails, followed by Thursday and Wednesday.

This depends heavily on the audience receiving emails. They might be used to seeing messages come in on Friday, or they might prefer a different day. Finding the sweet spot can greatly increase open rates. We continually experiment and encourage you to as well.

Time Sent

This is another variable that is impacted by the preference of the audience. Testing out different times should give you a good idea of what works best. Most of our partners send out their emails between 10:00 AM and noon. Studies show that there are three peak times when people check their emails. When people wake up (6:00 AM), at the beginning of the workday (10:00 AM) and before they go to bed (8:00 PM).

Getting dialed into the time your audience checks their email will not only increase your open rate, but click-throughs increase as well since customers are in a mindset of browsing.

Subject Length

The subject line is the first thing people notice in their email inbox. Having a short, catchy subject will make your email jump out in the sea of messages. This will increase open rates, which ultimately increases the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. Best practice for subject lines is around 20 characters, or roughly 5 words.

This is due to the myriad of email clients being used and the increase of people checking email on their smartphones. Smaller devices show previews of 27 characters, with larger devices showing up to 35.


We are receiving so many messages throughout the day. Our attention is being requested by email, social media, work, and people around us. It can be hard to focus enough to read a short paragraph before being distracted by something else. For a majority of people, this is the case. The effect of content on email KPIs can be hard to pinpoint, but one thing has never changed. A compelling message will get a response.

The best way to get a compelling message across is not to deliver it with conflicting messages. An example of this might be sending an email focussing on an apparel sale, but also including information about service specials, group rides, and new store hours. While useful information, the focus of the email, the apparel sale, gets lost and the marketing campaign loses its effectiveness.

For email marketing, the less said, the more time there is to respond to it. Say your one thing and either leave it at that or speak more about that topic. When you send an email about apparel sales only include other information about apparel, like reviews or staff picks.


These four areas of focus can greatly affect the success of your email marketing efforts. Dialing them in will not only help you get a great return on your marketing investment, but it will also help your customer have a better overall experience with your business.

When making adjustments to these parts of your emails and other areas of your marketing, it’s best to adjust one thing at a time. Pick one thing--time or day sent, subject length, or content--and test as you adjust. This makes it easier to see how the changes impact your KPIs.

If you are a SmartEtailing marketing client, contact your account representative today to go over your email marketing and see how you can improve its effectiveness.

Topics: Marketing


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