Uncovering Email Campaigns that Led to +89% Higher Read Rates than Average

Email
Content & Messaging
Brand & Positioning Strategy
February 25, 2022
Sporting Goods & Outdoor

Key Takeaways

Brands in the biking industry are segmenting their campaigns for more tailored content. Here’s how:

Optimizing Campaigns

  • Prioritize Read Rates: From 2020 to 2021, 88% of high read rates correlated with spikes in email web traffic. 
  • Optimize for Mobile: Mobile only accounted for 0.3% of email web traffic in 2021. Prioritize email design for mobile to support a cleaner reading experience.
  • Cadence & Timing: Brands are sending emails 5 times a month, with top performing emails sent at 16:00 and 17:00 UTC. 

Content & Messaging

  • Community & Exclusivity: Emails with the top five average read rates include limited edition launches, giveaways, about us, new products and new collections. These emails mix community-driven content with product-focused selling. 

Generating & Maintaining Leads

  • Prioritize Segmentation: Brands are allowing visitors to choose their biking interests so they can target specific emails to smaller segments within their lists. From 2020 to 2021, 80% of brands reduced the volume of their average recipient list per campaign. 

The following companies were included in the competitive set for this analysis:

From January 2020 to December 2021, brands in the competitive set saw 401K total website visits from email marketing. From 2020 to 2021, there was a -21% decrease in traffic.

From 2020 to 2021, read rates and website traffic have seen a positive correlation for the competitor set 88% of the time, except for three instances where traffic to the site and read rates were opposing in February 2020, July 2020 and November 2021.

In 2021, 99.7% of all website traffic from email marketing across the competitor set came from desktop devices. Mobile traffic accounted for 0.3% of email traffic, a -24% drop in mobile traffic from 2020.

A higher percentage of click through on desktop can stem from a lack of mobile email optimization or a reader base that is more comfortable doing research about biking on larger screens.

In 2021, all brands in the competitor set, except for SRAM and 100%, saw a decrease in web traffic generated by email marketing.

In 2021, only Specialized and Salomon increased their monthly campaign cadence where Rapha and SRAM decreased their cadence. Amongst the competitor set, the average monthly email campaign cadence is 5 emails a month in 2021.

*Email marketing data for 100% is only available from June 2021 and beyond.

In 2021, brands in the competitive set are segmenting their email distribution by sending emails to niche groups of subscribers rather than their entire subscriber base. Brands saw a -42% decrease in average individual campaign recipients.

List size is the max number of subscribers a competitor reached out to on a campaign within the year.
*Email marketing data for 100% is only available from June 2021 and beyond. 

From 2020-2021, brands in the competitive set saw an average read rate of 19%. In 2021, Specialized has the highest average read rate at 29%.  

List size is the max number of subscribers a competitor reached out to on a campaign within the year.
*Email marketing data for 100% is only available from June 2021 and beyond. 

Emails in the competitive set with read rates greater than 50% were sent the most within the hours of 17:00, 16:00 and 00:00 UTC.

The competitive set focuses most of their content on product specific emails such as product highlights or new product launches while top performing emails based on read rates indicate subscriber interest in community and exclusivity such as limited edition collections, giveaways and ‘about us’ information. 

While emails based on storytelling are sent out frequently, these email typically receive an average read rate of 21% which is lower than the top five categories that see an average read rate of 36%. Storytelling emails from the competitive set include the science behind the product, biking films and series as well as introductions to the sponsored team.

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Top Performing Email Category:

#1. Limited Edition

Limited edition emails focus on exclusive drops that are generally released once in the product line. 

These emails focus on collaborations or products that serve very niche or specific focus in the biking community. 

Tactics: 

  • Include “Limited Edition” in the email subject line to grab viewer attention. 
  • Experiment with calls to action that support the content. Play to the fact that these collections are special using a call to action like “Get Yours”.
  • Short but sweet introductions about the limited edition release with strong photography to complement the email is the perfect combination to avoid overwhelming readers.
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#2. Giveaways

Re-engage your email subscribers by hosting a giveaway. This enables readers to click through to your website in order to enter and keep browsing. 

Tactics: 

  • Go big. Brands have offered full equipment from their site for giveaways or partnered with aligned brands to offer unique experiences.
  • Try to build urgency in your communication by highlighting when the giveaway ends.
  • Play with your readers. In Salomon’s giveaway with Field Mag, they built in two calls to action, one that says “Enter Contest” and the other that says “Nah, I’d Rather Shop” viewers are likely to select what people expect them to choose - but if they don’t, at least they still have the option to shop.
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#3. About Us

Specialized sent out an About Us email twice at two different dates to two different email lists. They focused on a short email that highlights the benefits of shopping with Specialized.   

Tactics: 

  • Keep about emails value-based. Specialized wants to demonstrate their interest in their readers and their retailers and offers two CTAs to submit feedback and find a retail location.  
  • Highlighting the main benefits of shopping with the brand can help increase conversion rates by giving readers access to information they may not have known about the online store.
  • Choose a powerful image that represents the brand to capture attention and show off the product.
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#4. New Product

A staple email for most online retailers, new product emails communicate launches for readers to stay up to date with the latest of the brand’s offerings. Note that new product emails are different than product highlights which focused on sharing product regardless of if they are new or not.

Tactics: 

  • Clear, clean imagery is a must. Both Salomon and Specialized use solid colour backgrounds with product imagery to give readers the best example of new products. 
  • Include a brief description of the purpose and benefits of the new product before going on to showcase more imagery or different colour ways.
  • Include a call to action to shop under each SKU displayed to encourage click through to the site. 
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#5. New Collection

New collection emails are similar to new product emails however they have the opportunity to build a stronger story around the set of products being promoted.

Tactics: 

  • Use new collection emails to focus on a theme or inspiration for a range of products within one line. 
  • Tell a larger story. Rapha uses a collection launch to tell the story about riding in Norway and asks readers to explore the story behind collections before showing specific products. 
  • 100% uses their collection launch to be witty and show brand character with their communication by tying collection inspiration to summer and the feelings it inspires in riders.
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Currently Specialized, Salomon, 100% and Rapha have newsletter sign up pop ups on their homepages when landing on the site. 

Specialized, Salomon and 100% are collecting numbers for SMS marketing as well.

Specialized and SRAM currently do not have a welcome email flow. 

Salomon’s lead capture pop up offers 10% off an order when visitors subscribe for both email and sms marketing. After subscribing, visitors receive their discount and the ability to add a pre-made Salomon contact to their phone to build a sense of ‘friendship’ with the brand.

Rapha’s pop up and welcome email does not focus on an promotional content but instead urges subscribers to set their email preferences to receive only content that is relevant to their interests. Similar to the homepage pop up, the preference page allows viewers to select their product preference, riding style and country.

Click to view

100%’s welcome email flow incorporates two emails, three days apart. The first email is a simple introduction to the brand and what subscribers can expect. Similar to Rapha, 100% asks viewers to choose their preferences. Three days after the first email, a second email with links to all of 100%’s social medias is shared including a Spotify account hosted by their athletes.

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