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Email Marketing: A Deep Dive Into Email Analytics, Tracking and Statistics for Bike Retailers

Email Marketing for Bike Shops
Even though it might seem old-school, email marketing still has a lot of relevance in today's market

So, you're sold on the power and importance of email marketing (if not, see part 1) and you're keen to start working on your e-marketing strategy. You may already be using email marketing as part of your store's marketing and communications strategy, but you know you've got to measure it, don't you?

Not measuring and benchmarking your email marketing is, as the Brits would say, "like pissing into the wind." Or, to out it into cycling terms, it's like training without keeping a training diary or recorded data. Apart from 'feel,' you have virtually no idea whether what your doing is working, why it's working when it does, what to replicate and what to stop doing, and what needs improvement or tweaking.

Email 'Process Metrics' - What should I be measuring and why?

Email Marketing for Bike Shops
Taking a look at your email data can prove incredibly informative

Process Metrics are the diagnostics that illustrate how the various elements of your email send-outs have performed. It should be monitored every time you send out marketing related emails and tracked longitudinally.

There are some quite sophisticated metrics which professional digital marketers will be looking at (retention, engagement, share of wallet etc.), but the following are the key process related elements you should be looking at, as well as the easiest to understand and to improve upon.



1. Open Rate - the percentage of emails opened versus the number sent out.

Why is this important? In simple terms, it illustrates how catchy or relevant your subject line was, as well as how trusted your business or brand is.

If your email marketing is going to have any effect on improving your sales, foot-traffic, web traffic, brand awareness, brand value, or whatever it is you are trying to achieve, it has to be read first. And to be read, it needs to be opened in the first place. High open-rate: good. Low open-rate: bad. Low open rates will suggest you need to look at a few things, including: message appeal, message relevance, your brand value/perception, timing of delivery, or poor delivery rate.


2. Click Through Rate - the number of 'openers' (yes, that's what they're called) who then clicked through to your promotion, message, content, etc.

Why is this important? It directly points to the relevance of your message, the value of your offer, your content quality, and basically whether it hit its mark or not.

If your click through rate is poor, it shows you need to improve your targeting (offers on road bikes to previous road bike purchasers and so on), the thinking about message value (is it a price, product, or value-add that will spark a purchase or inquiry response?), and whether the email looked professional, attractive, and was easy to digest.


3. Bounce & List Churn Rate - how many emails failed to be delivered, or even worse, were actively rejected or prompted a spam complaint or unsubscribe.

Why is this important? Firstly, it tells you how up to date and accurate your email address list is. Secondly, it suggests whether your emails are valued, welcomed, or deemed appropriate.

Think about bounce and churn as the customers who walked into your store and then straight back out again, the ones who complained about the sales person being pushy or for following them around the store, and the customers who never came back. Needless to say, high bounce and churn rates are not good for your sales performance and also a signal you are not doing things right.

Email Metric Benchmarks - What sort of numbers should I be aiming for?

Email Marketing for Bike Shops
Knowing how many people are opening your emails can help you understand the effectiveness of your marketing

Monitoring and measuring your process metrics over a period of time will provide you your own baselines and benchmarks. However, it's useful to understand what benchmarks are the norm globally, and most importantly, in your territory and industry.

To my knowledge, there is no benchmark data on email marketing metrics available specific to bicycle retailers. So, I'll run with the benchmarks for 'Retail & Ecommerce' email marketing, which is certainly available, as well as the benchmarks per territory.

Also, I'll only bother listing the 'median' percentages, as opposed to the 'mean' percentages. If you have forgotten the difference, you'll need to refer back to your junior high math books. But, the rates that the likes of Amazon, eBay, Chain Reaction, and Wiggle get on their email marketing kind of blows the data out for the likes of 'Joe's Bikes & Mowers,' if you get my point.



1. Open Rate Benchmarks

'Unique' Open Rate Medians by Territory
Global 17.4%
U.S.A. 16.7%
Canada 11.4%
U.K. 19.4%
Europe / ME / Africa 17.9%
Asia - Pacific 21.5%
'Unique' Open Rate Median
for Retail & Ecommerce
Global 16.1%


Email marketing is money well spent
More open emails = more sales

If you're scoring Open Rates of 33.8% or higher, you're performing in the top quartile globally. Well done. But, if you're only securing 6.6% Open Rates or less, you're in the bottom quartile. Maybe it is time to review your message title, targeting, and timing.

Sending 'Transactional Emails' will more than double those rates, with top-notch email marketers seeing their messages opened more than three quarters of the time.

What's a 'Transactional Email'? Basically any email that wasn't bulk sent and was in direct response to an action (or inaction) by the recipient, such as subscribing to your website, booking in their bike for a service, purchasing something from you, or abandoning their shopping cart on your ecommerce site.


2. Click Through Rate Benchmarks

Click Through Rate Medians by Territory
Global 1.4%
U.S.A. 1.3%
Canada 0.6%
U.K. 2.0%
Europe / ME / Africa 1.9%
Asia - Pacific 2.0%
Click Through Rate Median
for Retail & Ecommerce
Global 1.8%


Now the numbers start to look a lot smaller, don't they? Which only serves to emphasize just how important it is that you get every element right. Think about British Cycling's successful 'marginal gains' strategy. They look to improve every aspect of their performance by 1%. And when it comes to email marketing, so do you.

Top quartile e-marketers in Retail & Ecommerce record CTRs of 7.5% or more, while bottom quartile marketers are lucky if they score 0.3% CTRs.



3. Bounce & List Churn Rate Benchmarks

As with Open Rate and Click Through Rate metrics, there are several sub data sets you can look at. But, let's look at the two major metrics: Hard Bounce Rate and Unsubscribe Rate.

Hard Bounce Rate is basically the emails that literally 'bounced' back to you. You'll receive a notification telling you every time this happens. This typically identifies out of date or incorrect email addresses in your data set or the level of your 'Data/Contact Hygiene' (not my favorite term to use, I have to admit). A simple, but essential, metric to constantly work on improving, for obvious reasons.

Hard Bounce Rate Medians by Territory
Global 0.021%
U.S.A. 0.026%
Canada 0.000%
(Oh, Canada!)
U.K. 0.016%
Europe / ME / Africa 0.008%
Asia - Pacific 0.080%
Hard Bounce Rate Median
for Retail & Ecommerce
Global 0.013%


Unsubscribe Rate Medians by Territory
Global 0.021%
U.S.A. 0.021%
Canada 0.000%
(clearly the place to be an e-marketer)
U.K. 0.028%
Europe / ME / Africa 0.030%
Asia - Pacific 0.014%
Unsubscribe Rate Median
for Retail & Ecommerce
Global 0.038%


Email marketing is money well spent
It's worth tracking your bounced emails

Good news for those of you working in Retail & Ecommerce, because your industry has by far the lowest HBR globally. Great to be offering what people want, isn't it? Globally, top quartile e-marketers see their emails bounce less than 0.001% of the time, whereas bottom quartile marketers record 1% and greater HBR every time they send out a message, (ouch).

Apparently the reason for Canada's virtually zero unsubscribe and HBR numbers is because Canadian companies regularly send re-opt in subscription emails, which compels subscribers to regularly re-commit. While it does whittle down the total customer list, it results in people on your list who definitely want to be there and are always happy to receive your messages. Something for us all to learn from, I think.

Top quartile Retail & Ecommerce marketers record Unsubscribe rates at less than 0.0197%, with bottom quarter marketers scoring more than 0.288% Unsubscriptions.

I know these numbers seem very small and insignificant to you, but to put it into a context you might value; If you can lower your Unsubscribe rate by just 0.1%, that means you would be keeping 100 customers every time you send out an email, should you have 100,000 customers on your list. That's 10,000 customers extra you keep per year, based on sending out 4 emails per week.

Like I said, these metrics and benchmarks really matter and it will pay you to constantly monitor and work on improving them.

There is another major set of metrics we can look at, called Output Metrics. But let's discuss those when you've got these simple, but essential, metrics working for you and your business. For now, start by making sure that the service you use to send you emails has good tracking and analytics reporting, and then be sure to you keep an eye these important stats for each email that you send.




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Profile imageAuthor: Jonathon Nunan
Back in 1989 I went to watch the opening of a local velodrome in Perth and immediately fell in love with the sport. By the following weekend, I started my first club race on a $400 road bike. The next 12 years of my cycling adventure was spent as an elite track cyclist, in Australia and the UK, including numerous national medals and a British title. It was 1997 in Manchester where I started in bike retail, at the iconic “Harry Hall Cycles”, re-booting and running their road department in their post-IRA bomb location. From “Harry’s” I moved on to repping with Jim Walker & Co. in 2000, establishing and managing a 250+ IBD territory spanning most of the UK. Within months of moving back to Australia in 2002, I started working with Australia’s leading ‘A’ brand P&A distributor, Bikesportz Imports, where I helped transform the company, its turnover and profitability as National Sales & Marketing Manager for the next 11 years. Late in 2013 I parted ways with Bikesportz to start up “Better Bike Business”, Australia’s first bicycle industry focussed business consultancy. As well as helping international brands, distributors and retailers do better bike business, I also commentate at state and national cycling events and write for leading industry publications, now including ‘Bike Roar’.

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