SparkPost’s 2020 Benchmark Report Finds Senders Neglect Testing, Deliverability and Engagement to Support Transactional Email

New Report Reveals Email Senders Value Transactional Email but Aren’t Prioritizing User Experience

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 29, 2020 SparkPost, the world’s largest email sending platform delivering email deliverability solutions and performance insights, today released its 2020 Transactional Email Benchmark Report, a snapshot of email professionals’ approaches, techniques and beliefs. Key findings show that while senders are ramping up transactional emails and view them as powerful tools for engagement and conversion, they do not invest enough in these vital communications to maintain consistent quality and engagement. 

Transactional emails, and select triggered emails, are on the rise, with nearly half executing up to 1 million or more a month. Senders recognize these transactional and triggered messages as effective ways to welcome new brand followers, deliver application notifications, as well as onboard new users because they offer an opportunity to expand content capabilities. Unlike commercial emails, which require recipients to opt-in, transactional emails are in response to specific actions, behaviors or events. In today’s global era of tightening email privacy regulations, transactional emails are one of the few communications channels brands can leverage without explicit consent. 

The report indicates senders recognize how transactional email can accelerate the customer journey: 95 percent say it’s very or somewhat important for engagement; 83 percent say it’s very or somewhat important for retention and 88 percent indicate it’s very or somewhat important to conversion.  But despite survey respondents’ strong recognition of the critical role transactional email plays, other survey findings show that many don’t “walk the talk” when it comes to the way they handle engagement, testing and deliverability.

  • More than one-third of transactional emails are still written by technical personnel who have little to no connection with recipients and lack the context of how they fit within the customer journey.  
  • A/B testing is growing, but not fast enough. While only 27 percent A/B tested two years ago, nearly 64 percent of survey respondents have yet to start A/B testing.
  • On authentication, only 52 percent say they use it, with an additional 21 percent unsure. Additionally, only 22 percent have implemented DMARC to prevent email spoofing.  
  • On the mobile side, more than a third, or 37 percent of senders, are unsure what percentage of mobile engagement is actually happening, citing a major potential experience issue. 
  • Customer complaints are also on the rise. Nearly half of respondents, or 47 percent, claim customers complain about non-received transactional emails, compared to 38 percent on SparkPost’s last survey.  

 “There is a direct correlation between a lack of investment in fundamental elements – such as testing, deliverability authentication, and email analytics – and the increase of customer complaints,” said April Mullen, Director of Strategic Insights for SparkPost. “When teams have fragmented responsibility and workflow, neglect authentication protocols and lack analytics, they’re missing vital insights and control over their email program. As email volume continues to grow, there are significant opportunities for brands to remedy some basic issues with minimal investment, resulting in positive impacts on customer experience.” 

Beyond complaints, respondents also reported that deliverability issues are on the rise. Almost 40 percent of automated email senders report deliverability issues, with only 62 percent saying their deliverability rate is 95 percent or higher. Authentication methods like DMARC paired with better email analytics can help address this problem significantly. 

“Senders must pay closer attention to the opportunity that transactional communications offer and ensure these emails perform well,” adds Mullen. “There is a lot of unrealized potential in transactional emails, which can lead to long term retention, revenue and satisfaction goals. A simple audit against industry best practices can provide the necessary insight for the right adjustments for senders.”  

The 2020 SparkPost Transactional Email Benchmark Report, which will now be conducted annually, assesses email senders’ attitudes, approaches and techniques for transactional email. The report aggregates responses from more than 300 senior executives responsible for corporate transactional email efforts. The 2020 Transactional Email Benchmark Report can be viewed or downloaded here. To learn how SparkPost can improve email insight and engagement, please visit

About SparkPost

SparkPost is the first and only predictive email intelligence platform, seamlessly unifying email deliverability and analytics globally. SparkPost enables the delivery of more than 37 percent of the world’s B2C email, more than five trillion messages, making it the #1 email sending platform. SparkPost’s analytics cover 90 percent of the world’s email footprint, giving companies deep insight into email deliverability and engagement analytics. Companies such as Zillow, The New York Times,, Ebates, and Zynga trust SparkPost to significantly increase email-marketing performance. More information on the company can be found at or @SparkPost on Twitter.


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