Email clicks from the firewall10. October 2018
Email editors and newsletter builder under the microscope27. March 2019
Study: email marketing in e-commerce
How online shops in Germany deploy email marketing
The EHI Retail Institute identified the 1,000 highest-grossing online shops in Germany* – and we scrutinised their email marketing activities. Which of these shops actually send promotional emails? What are the most popular email sending platforms? How do online shops attract email subscribers? Read the answers to these questions and many more in our HIVE blog.
In collaboration with the EHI Retail Institute, we conducted a study entitled “E-Commerce Market in Germany in 2018” and looked at the email marketing of 1,000 online shops that are among the highest grossing in Germany. To do this, we subscribed to newsletters from these e-commerce enterprises over a period of at least three months – provided it was possible to sign up without making a purchase. To identify the email systems deployed, the newsletters we received were searched according to criteria that uniquely identified the sender. We examined which online shops sent marketing emails during the survey period, which platforms were used and how email subscribers were attracted.
1. There’s still plenty of life in email marketing
Almost 95% of all the online shops* offer an email subscription. This means email marketing is still definitely the standard means of communication for e-commerce companies.
2. A quarter of e-commerce companies send (almost) nothing
Email marketing needs emails – but some shops don’t want to overdo it. We were able to subscribe to a newsletter from 95% of the shops, and we did actually receive emails from 936 shops. However, around 25% of the shops offering email subscriptions** only sent one or two emails during the three-month survey period, not including the double opt-in email and the registration confirmation.
3. ESPs dominate the market
The vast majority (82%) of the online shops we looked at** send their emails using an email marketing platform (email service provider, ESP), that is, services that were developed exclusively to meet the requirements of email marketing and that provide the most common functions for creating, sending and tracking commercial mass emails and for managing lists and opt-in and opt-out features. These include omnichannel marketing suites that not only serve the email channel, but can also handle campaigns, for example, using the web, banners, social media, messaging, text and print.
Some 3% of the shops we analysed use a sending service, in other words, a solution that plugs straight into the shop system (or other in-house system) through interfaces (APIs). In these cases, the in-house system is usually responsible for target-group selection and automation and sometimes for templating, while the sending service takes care of distribution, deliverability and tracking. These setups tend to work well for developers and less so for marketers. Only a small proportion of the shops use their own solutions or their shop’s sending solution to send emails (7.4%). In 7% of cases, we were not able to identify a sending system. We can therefore assume that these shops master the challenge of managing topics such as email server configuration, distribution management and email deliverability themselves – or they rely on the expertise of their shop provider.
4. Huge variety in the systems used
The market for email platforms remains fragmented and the choice of products confusing. We managed to identify 64 different email service providers (ESPs) in the online shops *** we analysed. 89% of these shops use one of the 20 most common platforms found in this survey. In three quarters of all the companies (74.5%), one of the 10 most prevalent solutions is used. This means the market for email platforms has just moved from the “low” to “medium” concentration mark, as defined in economic theory. It will be interesting to see how and whether this trend continues.
5. The market shares of email service providers in Germany
Below, you can see which email marketing sending solutions are deployed by the e-commerce companies we looked at and how frequently they are used.***:
|Email service provider||market share ***|
|Salesforce (Marketing Cloud)||5,3%|
|Mapp (eCircle + Bluehornet)||5,1%|
|Smartfocus (Email Vision)||1,2%|
|SC Networks (Evalanche)||0,9%|
6. Registration: well-hidden or immediately obvious?
Most online shops (89%) make it easy for prospects to subscribe to their newsletter – but not all of them do! With 11% of the e-commerce websites we looked at, there was no reference to a newsletter on the start page or in the header or footer section of the shop. With 6.5 % of the online shops, it was only possible to sign up for the newsletter once we had set up a user account, and in 4.2% of cases, we could only find the newsletter option by using the website search function or Google, making it almost invisible for “normal” users. Having said that, almost 16.6% of the online shops deploy pop-up layers to actively advertise their email subscriptions. And if pop-ups are used to draw attention to the newsletter, the subscription offer is usually incentivised (74.8%).
7. Incentives are very common
Almost 42% of all shops incentivised their newsletter registration, for example, with vouchers or free delivery for the first order.
Basis: The 1,000 highest-grossing German B2C online shops for tangible goods in 2018, determined by the EHI Retail Institute for the study “E-Commerce Market in Germany in 2018,” sorted according to e-commerce sales in fiscal year 2017.
** Basis: 936 of the 1,000 shops that sent us emails during the survey period of at least three months.
*** Basis: 768 of the 1,000 shops that sent us emails via a sending platform identified as being an ESP during the survey period of at least three months: the percentage market share was calculated from the number of companies where the ESP was identifiable.