By Sultan Riaz | Marketing Coordinator
Over the holiday season I signed up to receive email newsletters and offers from several retail websites. Interestingly, when I received some of these emails for discounts, coupons or alerts for new items I was most likely to click on a link in the email and browse the retailer’s site. When comparing email to social media, TV or other forms of online media, the channel that most frequently grabbed my attention was email.
Not surprisingly, retailers agree that email marketing is one of the most powerful marketing tools that they have. Wait! Isn’t social media supposed to be the new medium that kills email while simultaneously generating sales? Not so, according to recent industry reports. Forrester tracked 77,000 sales during the recent holiday season and found out that only 1% of online sales came from social media sites like Facebook.
So please forgive me if I am not one who buys into the fact that in in the next two years 50% of retail sales will come from social media sites.
That doesn’t mean social media juggernauts like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn aren’t prime for retail sales and marketing opportunities. With a combined user base of more than 2.5 billion, there is potential for social media to play a huge role in sales.
The question for marketers is whether the social media market has become so saturated that it’s effectively become easier to grab consumers’ attention via email than from a tweet. A recent study found that in 2012 consumers took longer to respond to emails when compared to 2012. Yet email marketing still remains a powerful marketing tool for businesses.
Triggering the Online Shopper’s Itch
Going back to my personal example, whenever I am alerted by email to an appealing sale from one of my favorite retailers, I often end up browsing that company’s website. When it comes to social media, however, the odds of me clicking on promotional tweet are very low. My inbox is a place where I know that retail messages are specifically sent for me. So when I see “Sultan: You have a special offer from company A,” it grabs — and holds — my attention much more than a generic brand tweet along the lines of: “Follow us for a special discount offer!”
A holiday email I recently received from Express earned high marks for its ability to capture my attention. As the screenshot on the left shows, the email featured professional-quality photos and imagery.
Holiday retail promotions on Twitter weren’t so enticing. A tweet of a sale from a popular home retail outlet failed to grab my attention, even though it offered a 75% savings. There was nothing visually appealing about the tweet. In a Twitter feed that is literally updating every second with breaking news, sports information, random trends, etc., the promotion failed to trigger my shopping itch.
Will social media eventually become a significant factor in online sales? Possibly; but for now, email remains on top.
What form of online marketing gets your attention? Does social media play a significant role in influencing you when it comes to purchasing a product online? Disagree with what I discussed? Tweet me @Riaz_MediaWhiz and let’s discuss.
Image source: SmartInsights.com