Promotional Pitfalls: What To Do And Not Do In Email

Here’s a message for retailers that want to bombard customers with arbitrary email promotions.

Don’t do it: You’ll turn off more people than you convert, according to Indiscriminate Promotions Cost Retailers, a study by conducted by Forrester for Revionics.

Happily, 40% don’t mind receiving promotions via email, social media, phone or in store. And that’s up from 31% in 2017.

Indeed, consumers welcome relevant discounts — the bigger the better. Of 1,252 consumers surveyed worldwide, 53% will wait for as long they have to in order to get the right price.

People will hop most frequently for 26% discounts. But most are conditioned to wait for 40% or more when they can get it. Moreover, 26% will purchase based on relevant promotions -- the same percentage as last year.

But don’t get too confident: 15% would like to see fewer promotions overall. And 59% will feel annoyed if the price is more than they expect to pay and “doesn’t make sense.” 



What’s more, as unlikely as it sounds, consumers don’t welcome promotions on products for which they will pay full price.

Most of these arbitrary offers — 69% — are delivered via email. In contrast, 40% are handed out in stores, and 24% are sent via social media.

Only 28% say this improves their perception of the brand or store. And 19% claim it makes no difference, “one way or the other.”

Yet 7% are annoyed by such offers, and 11% say they will shop at the store that makes them less often — a pretty large swath of customers to lose.

Forrester also found that 17% never want to receive promotions through any medium: They will seek their own deals. 

Straight dollars and percentage-off discounts are the most popular types of promotions. But shoppers also like buy-one-get-one-free offers.

What’s the best frequency? Daily or weekly offers work well for items such as groceries and personal care products that have to be regularly replenished. But with people turned off by excessive messages, monthly might be better for some categories.

Subscription services are also popular, with 49% signing up because of the pricing, 36% to get a good price on new items and 30% for the convenience of not running out of products they use regularly.

Here are some additional findings to keep in mind:

  • 65% like it when prices are personalized to their shopping habits. 
  • 62% will accept frequent price changes as long as the prices are fair, non-arbitrary, and at the level they’re willing to pay.
  • 47% get angry when someone else’s personalized prices are lower than their own.
  • 44% will return an item if they find it for a lower price an hour later.
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