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You’ve Got Mail. A Look at Email Frequency Within The Retail Industry.

How many newsletters should apparel retailers send to their customers? We've benchmarked value, mass, premium and luxury market segments to find the average
You’ve Got Mail. A Look at Email Frequency Within The Retail Industry. | EDITED

When brick and mortar goes digital, so too must one of its most trusted marketing tools, the lavish window display. And while retail itself has found a satisfying analog in the browser, the window display, with its come-hither appeal, is still learning how to transition. Social media? Sure, to a point. But as it stands, marketers rely heavily on email to bridge that gap. So considering that, how many marketing emails should a retailer send per month? The answer rests in a retailer’s market segment.

Now, before we come off like we’ve closed the casket on traditional store windows, declaring them a relic best left to go beat the drum of irony out in some Texan desert, let us clarify: it’s not the case. Just ask Warby Parker. But it doesn’t lessen email’s role in converting through content and design.

So okay, we’re still left with our initial question: how many emails is too many? Or rather, what are the existing industry standards?  To help retailers with this, we created our Visual Merchandising software, which captures thousands of newsletters sent from global brands and retailers. It allowed us (and now you) to benchmark your communications with the industry and lays out competitors’ comms.

Our initial hypothesis ran that the magic number was probably aligned to market segment. As a question, it sounded something like: “Is there correlation in the price of a product and how much promoting it requires?” Seemed logical enough. So to the data we went.

To begin with, we familiarized ourselves with what constitutes industry norm. To do that we looked at the monthly average of newsletters sent January – March 2015 by over 400 retailers in flash, value, mass, premium and luxury markets. To be clear, these emails aren’t all received by every customer – retailers’ lists are segmented and spliced.

How many newsletters do retailers in each segment send on average?
How many newsletters do retailers in each segment send on average?

What we immediately saw was that flash sale retailers send the most email newsletters, 40 to 52 per month. This we attributed to their short-lived promotions and fast sell-through rates. Our ‘price-point vs. monthly emails’ hypothesis was taking shape.

As an aside, it’s worth noting too that this market also had the highest variance in per-month email frequency, 12.

Over on the other side of the price spectrum we found another piece of supporting evidence: luxury retailers send the fewest email newsletters, 11 or 12 a month. Motivated by a desire to retain an aura of exclusivity, it seemed, these retailers were happy enough to wait for customers to come to them.

Over in the middle ground our results largely fell in line with the hypothesis. Value retailers were the second chattiest with 20 to 22 emails per month. Which made sense, less than the flash retailers and more than luxury retailers.

Within the premium market, we found a mean average of 16 emails per month. This finding put it roughly on par with the next lowest-priced segment, the mass market. It was here that the statistical variance seemed to be less conclusive, but nor was it contradictory. One EDITD employee summed it up nicely, calling it “kind of a dud”. Can’t win ‘em all.

Additionally, it’s especially interesting to note the seasonality of newsletter frequency – or lack thereof! January, a sale season across all levels of the market, sees little to no lift in frequency of send. Retailers simply switch their regular newsletters over to promotional campaigns. Consistency appears to be key to strategy – in February and March, when new season stock arrives and brings with it many editorial opportunities, levels of newsletter sends do not rocket.

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