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Digital Commerce 360 and Bizrate Insights conducted our annual digital marketing survey in May 2023, reaching 1,070 online shoppers. A look at email, marketplaces, retail media networks along with social media and influencers addresses today’s top marketing issues.
A myriad of marketing efforts influence online shoppers in their buying behavior, with email still a driving force. When asked which efforts are influential, 43% of survey respondents said emails suggesting that items previously viewed are now on sale were most influential. It’s instructive that even general emails wielded influence among 39%, especially given the volume of emails we all receive. Others that also saw traction were back-in-stock emails (24%), items left in one’s cart (20%) and offers within order and shipping confirmation emails (13%).
Digital marketing channels with the most influence
Social media had a significant pull for 36% of participants, while advertising on social media also captured the attention for 27%. Ironically, influencers were less likely to drive a purchase and were only influential among 14% of respondents.
It certainly was a positive that more traditional marketing such as catalogs and other printed material were influential among 24% while the physical store or mall-based advertising were a factor in driving purchasing among 26%.
Marketers who try to optimize membership/loyalty programs are influential in driving conversion for 22% of surveyed online shoppers.
It’s exciting to see that text messaging is also making an impact from a marketing perspective as suggested by 21% of online shoppers.
The role of online advertising seems to be least influential on shopper buying behavior with advertising on search engines (16%), content visited online (14%) and retargeting that follows shoppers after viewing products online (10%).
Looking at email specifically shows why it remains a strong part of the retailer marketing arsenal. Half of shoppers open email advertising at least daily, while 25% view at least a few times a week, 9% weekly and 6% monthly.
Moving beyond simply opening the emails, one in three online shoppers purchases at least weekly based on the reading of their email. 16% even doing so daily or more. Beyond that active segment, 20% purchase weekly/few times a week, 23% monthly and the remaining 32% a few times a year. Just 9% indicated they never purchase as a result of an email.
Promotion-driven emails and order-related communication see highest open rates
When asked to identify their top-three most likely to open retailer email types, messages about promotions and discounts rise to the top as half of online shoppers say they open them. Those that provide communication also have high open rates and include the following confirmations: shipping (40%), order (38%) and delivery (32%). Others that saw interest include offers tied to loyalty programs (31%), free shipping messages (30%) and new product communiques (23%). Beyond these, back-in-stock emails saw traction among 17%, and seasonal activities came in at 15%. Meanwhile, requests to review purchased products at 14% and replenishment at 9% were of lesser interest. Email remains an important vehicle to market and inform.
A look into advertising seen when shopping in marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay revealed that this sponsored advertising influenced online buying all or most of the time for 35% of online shoppers, some of the time for 37% and rarely or never for 28%. It can be challenging for retailers to make their presence felt in these marketplaces but opportunistic for sellers at the same time.
Facebook is the social channel most likely to lead to an online purchase
Looking at six social channels and how they ranked from a top-two perspective in leading to online purchasing is instructive.
- Facebook: 58%
- YouTube: 45%
- Instagram: 40%
- Pinterest: 27%
- TikTok: 21%
- Snapchat: 10%
These findings suggest that Facebook, YouTube and Instagram may provide the best “commerce-related” digital marketing opportunities.
Over half of online shoppers are comfortable purchasing within a social media app or platform, which bodes well for digital marketing growth as well. The comfort numbers are as follows:
- Comfortable: 57%
- Not at all comfortable: 8%
- Prefer purchasing direct from retailer sites: 18%
- Don’t use social media for shopping: 17%
The majority of online shoppers don’t purchase from influencers (55%). And one in four will purchase directly from influencer content on the retailer’s website. Just 19% say they purchase through the influencer’s Linktree, suggesting its more limited role.
For those who use social media, discovery and appealing promotions top the list of why they shop via these platforms. 38% of online shoppers see social media as a new way to find products. 26% say they can try new brands and products, while 22% say they value influencers.
Not surprisingly, there is a convenience factor. 36% are already using social media regularly, making it naturally convenient. And 24% find themselves prompted by social media platforms, so they stay top-of-mind. Only 4% say they don’t shop via social media.
Retail media networks are increasingly accepting ads from a variety of brands and outside retailers. When survey respondents were asked about their interactions, three in four online shoppers either sometimes notice competitor advertising on retail media networks with no impact for the majority. Beyond the 24% who don’t pay attention at all, the findings were as follows:
Always look: 21%
- Sometimes impacts shopping: 11%
- Doesn’t impact shopping: 10%
Sometimes notice: 55%
- May impact shopping: 28%
- Doesn’t impact shopping: 27%
The customer will dictate how, where and when they will be susceptible to marketing. The bottom line is that the many possibilities for retailers to effectively market means vigilance, attention to planning and analyzing the results — with change the only constant.
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