NEW YORK/LONDON: Brands that use email in their marketing mix differ widely in their performance, with the best of them making use of customer data to improve message timing and content, according to a new study.

Dotmailer, an email marketing platform, identified 10 online retail brands out of 100 globally, that it said "dramatically outperform the field" when it comes to their email marketing activities.

Online fashion retailer ASOS topped the list, having "excelled with a three-part welcome program that included a gender-specific confirmation email, an email that highlighted new fashion trends as well as the brand's loyalty program, and an email offering a discount off the first purchase".

Electronics retailer Best Buy came second, although British brands performed particularly well, with supermarket Asda, budget airline EasyJet and department store John Lewis rounding out Dotmailer's top five. J. Crew, Holiday Extras, New Look, Overstock and Trainline also featured in the top 10.

According to Dotmailer, while some brands excel at using customer data and automation, many are failing to make the most of the technology and this can have an impact on sales.

For example, most (86%) send a welcome email to new customers, but just 40% deliver abandoned cart reminders, which could prove costly because the Baymard Institute has calculated that the global shopping cart abandonment rate currently stands at 69%.

Similarly, the report found that many organisations falter during the after-sales experience because just 46% do not send feedback requests following purchases.

Dotmailer also asserted that 92% of brands in its survey use offer-led emails, but many of these messages are irrelevant because they don’t match customer activities or preferences.

And while 71% offer mobile-friendly purchasing options, such as PayPal and Amazon Pay, many fail to provide optimised customer journeys.

"Retailers across all sectors have adopted basic email marketing techniques, but the top 10 brands dramatically outperform the field by delivering compelling, timely email messages through automation," said Skip Fidura, Client Services Director at Dotmailer.

"In many cases, the only difference in this top 10 and the rest comes down to easy-to-implement automation programs which allow marketers to deliver human conversations at scale and deliver real ROI to their businesses."

Data sourced from Dotmailer; additional content by WARC staff