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Retailers are clearly keen on finding new customers, as four in 5 (81%) digital retail leaders say that in 2018 acquisition marketing was among their largest marketing investment priorities, making it the leading investment initiative. This appears to have been a sound investment, as a new report [download page] by CommerceNext and Oracle shows that of the 100 digital retail senior leaders surveyed, 77% say their acquisition marketing performance met or exceeded expectations.

These stats lean towards larger retailers, with more than half (51%) reporting at least $100 million in annual online revenues. As two-thirds (65%) of respondents expect to see their e-commerce marketing budget increase this year, what did they learn from last year that will inform how they use their budgets in 2019?

1. Acquisition Marketing Performing Better Than Retention Marketing

The received wisdom among marketers is that it’s better to retain a customer than to find a new one. But the data from these retailers may suggest that maxim isn’t always valid.

While acquisition marketing performance largely met or exceeded expectations, retention marketing performance did not fare as well in 2018. Of the 93% of respondents that used retention/loyalty marketing last year, a little more than half (55%) felt its performance met or exceeded expectations. More pointedly, 45% felt that their retention marketing performed below expectations. This is compared to the much lower 23% of respondents who said their acquisition marketing performance was below expectation.

2. Personalization Not Getting the Job Done

Despite other research showing that personalization has a positive effect on ROI and leads to improvements to the customer experience, this particular study suggests that respondents were not satisfied with the performance of their personalization efforts.

Of the 81% who used personalization as part of their marketing, only slightly more than one-third (37%) felt that their initiatives met or exceeded expectations. Conversely, 63% found personalization performed below their expectations. It is possible that personalization efforts failed to meet expectations due to respondents having unrealistic expectations of personalization, fueled by results from research such as the ones cited above.

Perhaps in an effort to improve the performance of personalization efforts, of the 76% of respondents who have made an investment in personalization technologies, about two-thirds (68%) say they will increase their investment this year compared to last year.

3. Low Investment In Voice Search

This year, ClickZ and Chatmeter revealed that voice search was one of the top five search trends this year. As more people become comfortable with voice technology like Smart Speakers, voice search is bound to become more of the norm.

However, almost two-thirds (62%) of respondents from this recent survey report not having made an investment in voice-enabled search technology. Of the 38% of companies that have made an investment in this emerging technology, 58% say they will make the same level of investment in it this year as they did in 2018, with only about one-third (34%) saying they plan to increase their investment.

To read more, download the report here.

About the Data: Results are from a survey of 100 digital retail senior leaders 51% of whom are from retailers with at least $100 million in annual online revenues.

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