October 9, 2012 § Leave a comment
Holiday marketing has begun. Does it matter when your email arrives in your target’s email box? Well, a new survey sheds light on how timing of an email reaching a recipient’s inbox affects engagement and purchase behavior. Conducted in September 2012, the StrongMail Email Delivery Performance Survey 2012 included more than 700 business leaders participating in the global survey. Some of the survey highlights include:
— 80% have seen performance increased for emails delivered during a particular time of day
— 61% cite a decrease in performance when emails don’t arrive at scheduled time
— 74% would like more control over the arrival of their campaigns
— 53% are not currently testing for an optimal delivery window for their email campaigns
— 61% are not currently doing any segmentation of email campaigns by time of day
When Consumers Prefer To Get Emails
Most consumers have a preferred time of day to shop online, but research shows retailers are not aligning their email campaigns with those preferences, according to an October 2012 report from Yesmail. Here’s the kicker. This report shows consumers (39%) preferring evenings between 6PM and 10PM as their preferred online shopping time, while just 5% of the email campaigns by top brands tracked over a 3-month period were delivered during that time window. The research suggests that the night time preference might be attributed to commuters shopping on mobile devices. Every target audience and geography has a preference of is own that should be determined by the marketer. The majority (41%) of retail email campaigns are sent between 2AM-6AM, with another 31% from 6AM-10AM. These two time periods were preferred by just 5% of the consumers surveyed.
Marketers should consider timing their email campaigns based on subscribers’ channel preferences, as consumers who shop in-store indicate very different patterns than online shoppers. For example, 79% of in-store shoppers prefer to shop over the weekend, versus 31% of online shoppers. Among those online shoppers, 47% who identified a day-of-week preference selected a day between Monday and Wednesday.
What Consumers Want in Promotional Offers
What type of promotions get our consumers’ attention? Consumers say the promotions that most influence them are percent discount, free shipping, money off, buy-one-get-one-free, gift with purchase and rewards points. When actual email promotions were tracked for a 3-month period, they measured up to consumer desires. Discounts were the majority share (54%) of email promotions, followed by free shipping (30%), money off (13%), rewards points (2%), and a gift with purchase (1%).
For those of you who have not sent your first holiday season email, here’s some news that might give you pause. Fifteen percent of top online retailers sent their first holiday email campaign in September this year. That 15% is up from 11% only two years ago. Everyone is vying for holiday dollars this year.
Shopping Begins in October.
Most consumers (51 percent) start their holiday shopping in October or November. Twenty percent start their shopping before October, though 24 percent wait until December.
September 19, 2012 § Leave a comment
Have you had your first Christmas sighting yet? We know retailers are already busy and shippers are coming out in the stores. Consumers are already planning their ho-ho-holidays. My Pinterest friends are busy posting Halloween and Christmas ideas at the same time. So “Christmas Creep” is here. “Christmas Creep” is the term for retailers who begin promoting Christmas earlier every year.
And here is the proof: Fifteen percent of top online retailers have already started the holidays in their email campaigns as of September 6, according to the 2012 Retail Email Guide to the Holiday season study released by Responsys. That’s up from 11 percent at this same time in the past two years.
What about consumers? A survey done in late October by YouGov BrandIndex found that nearly one-third of shoppers had already started shopping for holiday gifts. Nearly half expected to start before Thanksgiving, according to the survey.
Layaway is the first letter to Santa. In 2011, Walmart reintroduced layaway for the holidays, after getting rid of layaway five years earlier. While last year’s layaway program began on October 17, this year’s layaway will start with electronics and toy purchases of at least $50 starting September 16, 2012.
Christmas merchandise is arriving in the stores now. Retailers have a schedule of special promotions in the “preseason” before Halloween, then again with “early Black Friday” sales in November, and finally with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and what’s traditionally been peak holiday shopping season. Some started as early as July with Black Friday in July and Cyber Mondays in July.
For those of you who don’t have your plan in place, here are some trends for the 2012 Holiday Season.
1. Thanksgiving has replaced Black Friday as the kick-off of the season. More stores will open on Thanksgiving Day this year, along with special online sales. Last year, 75% of major retailers sent at least one promotional email campaign to their subscribers on Thanksgiving Day, up from 60% in 2010 and only 45% in 2009.
2. Express shipping and Free shipping are expected– all up to December 21 which is affectionately called “Last Sleigh Day”. Fifty-five percent of major online retailers offered free shipping last holiday season.
3. Santa’s helpers are mobile. The days they are most likely to be away from home are as follows:
— The day before Thanksgiving, which is the busiest travel day of the year
— Thanksgiving Day, when most consumers are with family with a smartphone in their purse or on the couch watching TV with a tablet on their laps, or out shopping with their smartphone in hand
— Black Friday, when many consumers are out shopping at brick-and-mortar stores
— Christmas Day, when consumers are flush with gift card cash and shop online because stores are closed
— Weekends during the height of the holiday season in December, when weekend email volume is about 50% higher than at other times of the year.
September 4, 2012 § Leave a comment
“Showrooming” is all the talk among retailers as the holiday shopping season approaches. Showrooming is the practice of shopping in a physical store and then buying online. It has become a concern for retailers because of the proliferation of mobile devices that allow comparison shopping to be as near as your smartphone. A fact for those marketing to women: some 45.9% of online shoppers have engaged in showrooming.
Recent research by Exact Target says that 44% of customers use mobile to shop in-store, and a similar number (45%) said they would leave the store to buy online when the online price was 2.5% lower. At 5% lower, 60% said they would leave.
But retailers with mobile sites and apps should take heart. New research from Foresee surveyed more than 4,000 customers who had visited the top 20 retailers’ mobile site or used their app within a two-week period. Research showed that 59% of the mobile devices were being used from home and 16% while preparing to visit a store. Those most likely to use mobile sites or apps are those more familiar with the brand. So brand is still important no matter where the shopping is taking place.
What can a retailer do to prepare for this retail season?
1. Remember that your brand is still important. Many things make up a brand. A differentiated shopping experience is a draw to consumers. Unique product selection, smaller stores, unrivaled customer service, personal shopping, pick-up service, in-store demonstrations/classes and personalization can be important components of your brand. Target pushes its suppliers to offer exclusive products that can’t be found elsewhere. It also has quadrupled the number of items available online and is sending special coupons directly to customers’ mobile phones.Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is emphasizing in-store pickups for online orders—many available the same day they are purchased—allowing customers to avoid shipping fees. Lululemon offers a unique lifestyle brand.
2. Mobile, Mobile, Mobile. Do you have a website optimized for mobile? Do you have a full selection of your products and services online? If comparison shopping is going on, you must have a full complement of products for that comparison. Email and text messaging are strong methods of communication. Big box retailers like Target, Walmart and Home Depot are developing indoor navigation tools for shopping. Walgreen’s customers can make a shopping list and the items will be spotted in a store map.
3. Pricing and Value. Okay, so you know that the real competition is online. Is it all about pricing? Well, if your goods are not unique, curated to your shopper and part of a branded look and feel, then yes, it is all price. Online sales still represent only about 8% of total retail sales in the U.S.—but that is up from just 2% in 2000. Amazon ranked as the 13th largest retailer in the U.S., up from 19th one year ago. By the end of this year, retail analysts expect Amazon to rank 10th, replacing Best Buy on the top ten list. And Amazon prices are 9-14% lower than most retailers.