Napping Retail: Brands Must Do A Better Job With Emails, Study Shows

Consumers often open emails when they are relevant. But retailers are failing to send them, according to Unlock Consumer Obsession By Tying Features To Business Outcomes, a study by Forrester Consulting.

The main thrust of this report is that ecommerce brands are buying technology without thinking how it will help business outcomes. But it also shows that brands are missing a chance with their reminder emails.

Forrester surveyed 200 retailers and 502 online consumers in North America.

Of the consumers polled, 34% open email frequently, and 29% very frequently — almost two-thirds of the sample. Only 7% say they open them rarely, and 2% say very rarely, while 29% open them occasionally.

These results are in line with their shopping frequency. The study shows that 26% shop online at least several times a week, and 19% once per week. In addition, 36% shop several times per month, while 20% shop once per month.

But there are gaps in email execution. For instance, retailers are missing opportunities to build sales and engagement with their cart abandonment emails.



Of the consumers polled, 82% say they quickly receive emails reminding them to return after an abandonment. They agree that the emails often entice them to return, but only 61% feel the messages contain other useful recommendations. 

That’s not the only lapse. Of the consumers who had recently abandoned a browse, 43% did not receive an email reminder to return. Yet 79% did agree it made them more likely to come back, even beating reminder emails. 

Transactional emails are another lost opportunity — almost 90% open purchase confirmations, and 91% open similar communication.

But only 66% feel the post-purchase emails are relevant, and 59% feel that they contain useful recommendations.

The result? “Retailers are missing a remarkably reliable opportunity to increase the value of their relationship with active customers,” the study states.

Forrester also reports that only 9% of the firms polled qualify as customer-obsessed, although 94% feel they are.

Overconfident retailers have “failed to optimize a key marketing feature and so have fallen short on customer expectations and potential revenue,” the study states.

What’s more, they are basing their martech decisions more on features and functionality than on business outcomes — the latter is the fifth most important actor.

The study concludes that retailers “should apply customer-obsessed best practices: discussing desired business outcomes with vendors and placing a great emphasis on outcomes over functionality.”


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