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Data analysis: The state of email marketing after March 2020

· 8 min read · Email marketing · Apr 6, 2020

Email marketing is still playing a central role in how businesses and people stay connected. And it's growing.

Since our favorite MailerLite data scientist, Deividas, had all his DJing gigs canceled in March, he had extra time to run some numbers and find interesting statistics to share about the shift in email marketing over the past few weeks.

As most of the world practice physical distancing and confinement, it’s no wonder that Internet usage has exploded. Whatsapp grew 70% in Spain and 40% across the globe. YouTube experienced over 10X growth in parts of Europe. And, Zoom has become a household name with a record 62 million downloads.

What about email marketing? Are people still reading emails to stay connected with their favorite companies? 

The short answer is: yes. Email marketing is still a healthy channel, experiencing growth in key areas. Let’s look at the data and see what we can learn.

Email marketing volumes are increasing by a double-digit percentage in March. Businesses that send emails using MailerLite have not ceased their marketing campaigns and are making efforts to connect with their customers.

While the increase in sending volume is showing steady growth, we also found that both email engagement and e-commerce purchases made from email increased too. 

Email sending volume increased by 19% in March compared to January, while the number of accounts sending emails rose by 18%.

emails sent per week and number of accounts sending the emails

While BigCommerce's research shows that there has been a positive effect on e-commerce sales, we have also found that e-commerce purchases through emails have risen from 6,179 to 12,154. That’s a 96.7% increase.

ecommerce email marketing statistics

For email engagement, the average open rate grew from 17.04% in February to 18.97% in March. The click rate increased from 2.57% in February to 2.72% in March.

email subscriber engagement in 2020

Main takeaways

It is encouraging to see both email volumes and email engagement maintain their growth at the same time. It’s clear that you should not pull back or stop your email marketing, but instead continue to use email as a way to provide value to your audience. Just be sure to stay away from non-essential COVID topics (see COVID data below).

People like email because they are able to control their experience. They can pick and choose which emails they want to read when they want to read them. This is particularly good in the current environment where there is so much noise on social media and newsfeeds. An inbox is a place where people can interact with the businesses that they like and chose to interact with.

That said, it’s important to adjust your email strategy to show your empathetic side. Resist the urge to send promotion after promotion. Anticipate how your subscribers are feeling and use your platform to support them. 

Now is the perfect time to strengthen your customer community and provide useful content. This type of soft inbound marketing will pay off eventually.   

More people are subscribing to mailing lists. This stat was an insight that we didn’t expect. It seems that people are searching out new things during this time, and they are happy to subscribe to new brands that they discover. People have a lot more time to explore their interests and find new businesses to connect with. 

You can see in the chart below that the average weekly signups per account increased 34.9% since March 9. 

average new weekly signup statistics

What you can do to grow your subscribers?

The first thing we recommend is that you revisit all of your webforms, pop-ups and landing pages to ensure the messages are still appropriate under the current situation. Are you speaking to people in a positive manner? Are you providing something your audience needs?

Secondly, ask yourself where else you could be gaining new subscribers. Are there new places such as social media or new pages on your website that could use signup forms?

This is the time to get creative with new channels or ideas to reach your customers where they are. For example, so many people are now doing IG live and places like Twitter have become more relevant. 

Or, try more landing pages ideas. Experiment with different offers or other lead-generation ideas. 

We wanted to better understand how COVID topics are affecting email and looked at the percentage of emails sent that contain the keywords COVID or Corona in the subject line. 

As you can see from the chart below, 5.3% of the total emails sent from MailerLite contained these keywords. While 5.3% doesn’t sound like a lot, it represents over 46 million emails sent in just a few weeks.

covid usage in email subject lines

Be cautious about using COVID topics

It’s not a surprise people are using these keywords, but we recommend resisting the urge to use them unless it’s absolutely necessary. COVID-related emails should only be used for official purposes where the recipients need information that will help them.  

Anecdotally, we are hearing a lot of complaints about businesses using COVID as clickbait. This type of tactic will hurt your reputation in the long run. According to an Unhooked Communications survey, more than one in ten UK consumers are actually boycotting brands based on COVID-19 related content.

If your organization is directly responding to the COVID-19 crisis, here is a helpful overview of how to use email marketing during this time.

The current email marketing growth is positive news for businesses, but is it the same for all industries? We analyzed our data by industry to find out. These are the top 5 industries that experienced a jump in sending volume from earlier this year to now.

  • Authors: 48.32%

  • Online courses: 47.72%

  • Publishing: 43.03%

  • Media: 41.12%

  • Education: 33.57%

email sending volumes by industries

The takeaway for all industries

The industries that saw the largest jump are ones that people are gravitating to during physical distancing. If you are in one of these industries, be aware that there is a ton of competition for your subscriber's attention.

What can you do differently to deliver a special experience? If you are looking for some inspiration, you can read our article 100+ newsletter ideas.

For all other industries, this is not the time to cut off communications. You can still benefit from the overall increase in email marketing engagement by finding new ways to interact with your customers.

For example, let's take a look at the travel industry. Even though people are not thinking about booking trips right now, communication can focus on future trips. A recent survey found 55% of respondents 'may' or will 'likely' book future holidays while confined to their homes during the coronavirus outbreak. 

Anticipate what your customers are thinking for the future, and stay top of mind through email.

What questions do you have that our data might be able to answer?

Jonas Fischer
Jonas Fischer
I'm Jonas, Content Manager at MailerLite. I’m not the 4th Jonas Brother, but I do write content (which is similar to being a teen heartthrob). After writing for a bunch of companies over the years, I discovered my professional passion—helping add some humanity to B2B marketing. Email is the perfect place to start!