Email continues to be a powerhouse digital marketing channel, according to a recently-released WBR Digital whitepaper presented in conjunction with Emarsys. Based on a survey conducted by eTail of 254 retail professionals at companies with less than $100 million in annual revenues, the study’s results [download page] indicate that email marketing is the clear leader among all online activities for both acquisition and retention.
This result brings to mind research from a couple of years ago, in which US marketers deemed email the most effective digital channel for awareness, acquisition, conversion and customer retention.
Search is also a strong performer, per the Emarsys research. Among the 10 specific digital activities listed, organic and paid search ranked second and third in customer acquisition, with paid search third for retention and organic search fifth.
While the issue of ROI continues to persist with respect to social media, retail SMBs do feel that it’s effective for them. Social media ranked fourth among all channels as a customer acquisition driver, and second in driving retention.
Meanwhile, email also benefits from being relatively easy to execute and relatively inexpensive. In fact, asked to rank their marketing spend across six areas, just 20% of respondents to the Emarsys survey said that email is where they spend the most. By comparison, almost three times more respondents (57%) pointed to search as their top spending channel.
Notably, social media seems to be a strong performer in acquisition and retention despite smaller budgets. Only 4% of respondents named it their top-spending area, although an additional 21% put it in their top-2. The analysts note that “while it is not a primary piece of a marketing strategy, it is a versatile complement to other channels and a key part of an omnichannel approach.”
About the Data: The results are based on in-person and online surveys conducted by the eTail team of 254 retail professionals from a variety of industries, including apparel, beauty, consumer electronics, hard and soft goods, home furnishings, books, music, and department stores. Survey participants included decision-makers and executives with responsibility for their firms’ marketing, e-commerce, sales, and operations capabilities and strategies.
A slight majority (52%) of companies represented are multi-channel, with 35% being pure-play online and the remaining 13% being other company types.