With brick-and-mortar stores closed earlier this year, it was naturally for retailers to rely more on email marketing. But as retailers have sent more emails, consumers have engaged with them more. During Q1 of last year, our retail customers experienced an average open rate of 15.1%. That number that jumped to 16.9% during the six-month period between February and July. Tory Burch, Burton and MATCHESFASHION were among the top performers, according to Marigold Engage by Sailthru’s brilliant Strategy & Analytics team.

Two years ago, the team created a benchmarking tool that quantifies the millions of emails we send every single minute, compiling all the open and clickthrough rates. Read on to learn what made these three rockstar retailers rise above.


Subject Line: [Varied by recipient]

When a retailer adds hundreds of items to its website every day, that could create a potentially overwhelming shopping experience. However, that’s a non-issue for MATCHESFASHION customers, given the fashion retailer maintains millions of individual customer profiles, using artificial intelligence and machine learning to update them constantly based on their behaviors and buying history. What’s more, MATCHESFASHION hedges its bets by asking customers for their help personalizing their recommendations. Linked at the top of this message, the retailer’s preference center is particularly robust. It includes favorite designers, in addition to communication preferences.

Every element of this email exemplifies that. MATCHESFASHION utilized Zephyr, a sophisticated templating language that enables Sailthru customers to easily add dynamic content to their marketing messages, to personalize both the subject line and the products featured. Here, MATCHESFASHION makes sure to show shoppers not just what’s new, but what’s new and what predictive analytics say they’re most likely to purchase.

Make “P” Feel “VI” Like VIP Tory Burch

Subject Line: By invitation only: early access to our summer capsule

We all know loyal customers are the best customers, and what better way to build loyalty than by treating people like VIP? Tory Burch does that well here, using every element of the email to come together and create a sense of exclusivity.

With one image and two lines of copy, this email doesn’t have too many bells and whistles competing for’ attention. The language in the subject line evokes the feeling of being included in something very special. That message is solidified by the call-to-action, which further emphasizes the point that you get the first look at Tory Burch’s summer sale. This tactic works particularly well for Tory Burch since there’s often a blurry line between the designer and her eponymous brand, making the email feel like a personal invite from Tory Burch herself. It’s worth noting that of all the retail emails in this guide, this one had the highest clickthrough rate.

Work With What You’ve Got Like Burton

Subject Line: Home Workouts for Riders: Session 2

Economic uncertainty, shipping delays, foot traffic coming to a standstill: The pandemic presented no shortage of complications to retailers. For many brands, there was an additional challenge of primarily selling products that aren’t necessarily quarantine-friendly. Burton certainly fell into this category, focusing on ski and snowboarding equipment while virtually every mountain in America was closed.

Adversity breeds innovation and Burton did a great job pivoting and leaning into relevant content. Messaging its segment of quarantine openers, Burton promoted livestreamed virtual workouts. By framing them as “workouts for riders,” Burton kept it on brand, while helping ensure customers would be in tip top shape when they’re able to hit the slopes again. Our favorite part of this email lies in the subject line. Notice this is session two; that means that people liked the first session enough that this message had a higher open rate.

To see more standouts, download our latest Top Performing Emails guide here.