For Stores, Email Still Beats Pants Off Social

When it comes to shopping, consumers still prefer to learn about promotions via email, and by a large margin, according to a new survey from Millward Brown Digital. After search engines, email comes in at No. 2. And 40.6% of people choose email as a tool when they shop, compared to only 27.3% for social networking sites.

Emails are more personalized, says Uyen Chand, senior analyst for retail and CPG with Millward Brown, and appeal to people because they can open them when they feel like it, on their own terms. “Although social media involves a lot more interactions, those are mostly with friends,” she tells Marketing Daily. “Email provides a more intimate and private environment.”

Emails can often provide more content as well -- including photos and videos -- whereas social has some inherent limitations, whether it’s 144 characters or going to a separate brand page, which typically involves only a brief interaction.

The survey finds that 94.6% of people would visit a retail site immediately after reading an email from the retailer.

By category, people who are buying clothes (50%) and electronics (49%) online are more likely to rely on retailer emails than the average online shopper (41%). 

It’s not that retailers aren’t connecting socially. More than four in ten online shoppers are fans of between one and five brand/retailer Facebook pages, and 26% are fans of more than 10.

But only 8% of consumers visited those pages, and 22% have never visited one.

Millward Brown Digital, which is owned by Kantar, also reports that 46.2% of people receive more than 10 emails from retailers in a typical week -- with 19.9% receiving more than 30, a number that was higher than she expected. “There are people out there who are very interested in what promotions and events retailers are offering.”

In general, 41.7% of consumers say use coupon sites frequently when shopping online, and 36.8% use deal-of-the-day or group buying sites.

She says it is too soon to assess the impact of Google’s new promotions tab in its Gmail program. Still, she adds, “email continues to be hit or miss. Retailers need to push out a lot of emails, because they don't have a full understanding of what the end user is thinking when he or she sits down to look at their inbox.”

"Mobile Shopping" photo from Shutterstock

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3 comments about "For Stores, Email Still Beats Pants Off Social".
  1. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , August 26, 2013 at 8:33 a.m.
    Direct Mail needs some love too. It's real and works.
  2. Mark Schmulen from Constant Contact , August 26, 2013 at 4:53 p.m.
    You probably won’t be surprised to hear that we absolutely agree that email is one of the most best ways to develop customer relationships – in fact, our data shows that 83 percent of small businesses find email marketing effective for their organization, outperforming all other marketing activities. That said, we’ve also found that businesses are best served in combining their social and email marketing efforts. We conducted a survey with Chadwick Martin Bailey which found that one of the main reasons why consumers “like” brand pages are to receive discounts, special offers, and exclusive promotions. We have also found that 51% of consumers who “like” a brand’s Facebook page become more likely to buy a product. When you take into consideration the data above, social media-exclusive promotions would be most successful when promoted via email as well. If you’re interested in checking out more of the results from the consumer survey, take a look here: http://news.constantcontact.com/research/032712-new-study-constant-contact-and-chadwick-martin-bailey-reveals-why-and-how-consumers- Mark Schmulen General Manager, Social Media, Constant Contact
  3. Bill Bishop from Brick Meets Click , August 27, 2013 at 8:53 a.m.
    Agree that today promotional emails are received and used by more shoppers than social, but that’s not the whole story. Our newest Brick Meets Click research does show that 74% of grocery shoppers have received emails from their supermarket in the last thirty days, while only 27% had liked that retailer on Facebook. Today with shoppers moving across digital platforms with such ease, retailers need to be in both places. Keep in mind that even today there are as many shoppers on Facebook as receive emails, they’re just not yet interacting with retailers, but given the trends in place, that time will come.