How Does Email Stack Up? Most Retailers Are Using It, But It's Siloed In Many Firms

Email is a big part of the retail tech stack, although it is has a growing number of rival channels -- and it’s not yet clear that they are smoothly working together, according to Trends In Retail and Consumer Goods Marketing, a global study by Salesforce.

Of the brands surveyed, 76% now use email marketing and 28% plan to try it within the next 12 months. Email is second only to websites, which have an 84% usage rate.

Yet email only narrowly beats display/banner ads (73%). However, it has a comfortable lead over social publishing (67%) social advertising (65%), video advertising (57%) and mobile apps (54%) and messaging (54%).

If there is any bad news for email advocates, it’s that the adoption growth rate is only 24%, versus 91% for the Internet of Things, 71% for native advertising, 68% for mobile apps and 58% for video. 

It may be that the old channel has reached the saturation point, compared with those newer technologies.

Meanwhile, only 33% of brands describe their email as dynamically coordinated, compared to 37% for mobile apps and 36% for video. Email meets the average.



Another 33% say their email merely duplicates the messaging in other channels, and 28% admit it is siloed — above the overall average of 27%.

This is important because 68% of consumers say consistency across channels is key to winning their business.

The study notes that marketers are using established channels like websites, email, and social advertising, while “ramping up their use of emerging channels, such as virtual assistants, augmented reality, and connected devices.”

Because of this, the ante is being raised for data unification. Of the brands polled, 49% have a completely unified view of customer data sources. Among the customer identity solutions are: Customer relationship management system; marketing database; customer data platform; data management platform; and email service provider. 

The report is a subset of findings from the fifth edition of the “State of Marketing” study conducted last year. This takeout generated 890 responses from full-time retail and consumer goods marketing leaders.

Salesforce also found that 25% of the survey group are not deploying AI, and 45% plan to do so within the next two years. Salesforce is projecting a 176% growth rate.

At the same time, 29% use voice-activated personal assistants in their marketing, and 37% plan to do so within the next 12 months.

On the regulatory front, 80% say balancing personalization and privacy is a priority. But only 28% are completely satisfied with their efforts in this area.

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