Is Your Personalized Email Game Up to Holiday Demands? - eMarketer

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Is Your Personalized Email Game Up to Holiday Demands?

Many retailers have only basic personalization info to work with

November 14, 2014

With the holiday season drawing ever closer, retailers are launching full-scale marketing blitzes to make sure that shoppers go to their stores for Black Friday and Cyber Monday instead of to competitors'. Data from L2 Think Tank's "Specialty Retail 2014" report indicated that email marketing is still working—and should be part of any marketer's arsenal in the days leading up to Christmas.

Reasons that US Internet Users Sign Up for Emails from Companies, Q2 2014 (% of respondents)

Average frequency of marketing emails increased in 2014. The study revealed that the home and gift segment sent the most emails—5.4 per week—while apparel (4.6 per week) and accessories and shoes (3.1) followed close behind. Those numbers were markedly lower at the same time last year, with the home and gift segment at 2.9 emails on average per week, apparel at 3.1 and accessories at 2.5. The frequency with which watch and jewelry businesses sent emails jumped to almost four times that of last year: from 0.6 emails on average each week to 2.2.

Retailers face problems when it comes to personalization though, largely because they only collect customer information at the time they opt in to marketing emails, and additional information is not collected until a user purchases. What information retailers do have is more general.

The study found that 21% of brands can identify a user's gender and only 11% are able to identify shoppers' department preferences. Only 5% gather demographic information like age, family size, and income and a mere 2% collect precise product preferences. If retailers were able to collect data along the way—about clicks and opens within the emails, maybe also tie that information to purchases—retailers would have a much easier go at targeting delivering the right message to the right shopper at the right time.

Either way, email marketing is still a widely effective channel at informing consumers about special Thanksgiving and Cyber Week deals. According to L2, between 33% and 44% of shoppers found out about deals over the 2013 holiday season because of marketing emails landing in their inboxes.

Users sign up for these types of emails specifically so that they can receive news about discount (80.1%), BlueHornet announced in an August 2014 survey of over 1,300 US internet users. Others hope to receive tailored or exclusive offers (35.9%) or get product or service updates (30.7%). Many do it because they love the brand (29.9%).

Regardless, over half of the nearly 1500 respondents told StrongMail and Harris Interactive that email marketing influenced their purchase decisions over the 2013 holidays. And with the frequency of emails brands send climbing higher still, that number may increase for the 2014 season.

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