Benchmarking Your Email Results in a Pandemic: 2020’s Impact on Email Marketing

By Natalie Jackson, Marketing Director, emfluence

If it felt like you received more marketing emails in 2020 than ever before, you were right. Across the board, email providers and marketing automation platforms (like the emfluence Marketing Platform) reported triple digit increases in email send volume last year as marketers scrambled to stay connected to their target audiences in a disrupted marketplace. But all that extra email didn’t always create a great experience for recipients.

“2020 was the year that email marketing made national headlines (and memes) in the worst possible way,” says Jen Capstraw, Co-founder of Women of Email. “As our world was thrust into chaos in March 2020, panicked executives rushed to distribute email announcements detailing their coronavirus response. Email was exactly the right channel for these communications. The problem was the lack of adherence to email marketing’s golden rule: Be certain it’s relevant. And they quickly learned that not every patron and prospect in their database cared about their virus mitigation efforts.”

As the emfluence Marketing Platform team pulled together data for our 2020 Email Marketing Benchmarks Report, it was clear the pandemic made an impact on email marketing metrics beyond the increase in send volume. The metrics told stories about which industries were most impacted by disruption, which audience bases were primed for the switch to digital buying, and what types of emails were most effective.

This year’s report also prompted us to think about the ways in which marketers used email in 2020—and how that shift in usage impacted traditional engagement metrics, like open rates. One of the most interesting shifts in email strategy last year was the increase in marketers using email to communicate community-centered messages, like “in this together” COVID messages or emails in support of Black Lives Matter. These messages often lacked a traditional call-to-action, which served as a good reminder that measuring the success of email is about more than open and click rates (if you’re interested in all the ways we recommended tracking email ROI, check out this post).

Even in normal years, the emfluence team recommends evaluating your standard email metrics (e.g., clicks, opens, unsubscribes) against industry and category benchmarks. It’s a great way to see if your overall engagement is on track or needs a little help, and it can lead to impactful conversations around email strategy and success. You can download emfluence’s Email Marketing Benchmarks Report for a look at:

  • Average email metrics by common industries
  • B2B email marketing metrics
  • The impact of COVID shutdowns and holiday email traffic in the inbox
  • Send volume across industries
  • Automated versus manual email performance
  • And more!

Get your copy of emfluence’s Email Marketing Benchmarks Report here.