60% of top online retailers don’t optimized their emails for smartphones, a new report finds.

Apparel brand Club Monaco Corp.  is outpacing the competition when it comes to email marketing, according to “Measuring Email’s Effectiveness,” an October 2017 report by RSR Research LLC and email marketing provider Coherent Path.

RSR evaluated 138 online retailers, focusing on well-known brands in apparel (which includes accessories, jewelry and shoe retailers), big box specialty (such as Lowe’s Cos. Inc. or Menards), department stores, health and beauty, home goods and sporting goods. RSR used email marketing provider Coherent Path and email service provider MailCharts to analyze email marketing campaigns between March 2016-March 2017.

Retailers were given a score between 1-100 based on the retailers’ email frequency (normalized as average number of emails sent per day); the breadth of the product catalog highlighted in the emails; the percentage of emails that featured multiple categories; the presence of a shoppable menu at the top of the email; the overall email length; the consistency between subject line and the main content of the email; mobile email optimization; and the minimal use of promotions in the subject line.

Within these categories, RSR did not define what the “ideal” number was but based the retailer’s score on how it compared with the average among the tracked retailers. For example, the report finds that the average number of emails to send per day is 0.95, based on the frequency of the retailers it tracked. So while 0.95 emails is the benchmark and comparison point, RSR does not define this as the “ideal” number.


“The idea is simple: an apparel retailer isn’t competing against just other apparel retailers for a consumer’s attention within her inbox,” says Nikki Baird, managing partner at RSR. “They’re competing against all retailers sending emails. Too many, and the retailer stands out as a spammer. Too few, however, and the retailer risks their message getting lost.”

The “ideal” number is directly related to how relevant and engaging the retailer’s message is, says James Glover, co-founder and CEO of Coherent Path.

“If you’re only sending promotions and discounts, the frequency needs to be less,” he says. “The optimal frequency should be directly tied to how much of your catalog you are exposing.”

The report finds that of the 138 retailer analyzed 41% of retailers send one or more emails a day.


Overall, out of all the tracked categories, no retailers scored higher than 80 and the average score across all the retailers was 51.7 out of 100.


Club Monaco scored the highest among all retailers, with a score of 79.9, because it averaged less than one email per day, made sure its emails contained a lot of categories in case its main content did not appeal to shoppers, had a shoppable menu at the top of every email and did not rely too heavily on promotional email subject lines.


“If you only get one email per day to entice a subscriber, you should be making sure that everything you put in that email is directly relevant to that specific subscriber,” Baird says.

The top five retailers and their point totals were:

  1. Club Monaco (79.9)
  2. Crabtree and Evelyn (76.8)
  3. BCBG Max Azria (76.0)
  4. Hudson’s Bay C0. (75.1)
  5. Hanes (74.7)

One of the more surprising findings in the study, Baird notes, is that only 4% of top online retailers send all of their emails optimized for smartphones. The report analyzed this by calculating if the email width is longer than the width of the smartphone, which is about 400 pixels.

What’s more, 60% of retailers had none of their emails optimized for smartphones. Such a low number of mobile optimized emails is especially surprising because the majority of emails, 55%-60%, are opened on smartphones, Glover says.


While it does take additional time to design emails for mobile or to make them responsive, more retailers should take the time to cater to consumer behavior,  Glover says.

“Brands see huge opportunity in improving both the conversion rate and the order size in mobile emails, which are still lower than desktop,” Glover says.



Overall, the apparel vertical had the highest average score  while health and beauty retailers scored the lowest.