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Nearly all retailers today, to some degree, are investing in email and social media marketing. Furthre, according to a new report, Facebook is king when it comes to the social side.
“State of Retailing Online 2016: Marketing and Merchandising,” a recent report from the Washington, D.C.-basred National Retail Federation (NRF) and Forrester Research, a Cambridge, Mass.-based market research firm, found that 92 percent and 94 percent of retailers surveyed are investing in social media and email, respectively, for marketing purposes. When it comes to social media, in particular, 68 percent of retailer respondents said they're seeing increased conversation from their paid efforts on Facebook, which leads the social media pack, versus, for example, the 40 percent who claimed the same with Instagram.
Social media doesn’t just help retailers market cost-effectively, it also drives revenue.
“Although email and SEO are tools frequently used by retail marketers, it was not a surprise to see that social media is gaining traction with retailers as they continue to further connect and engage with consumers,” NRF SVP and Shop.org Executive Director Vicki Cantrell said. “Retailers are not only increasing their social media budgets, but they are looking at new ways to update their online content and stay on top of new trends to continue grow their customer acquisition online and in-store.”
Additionally, mobile marketing continues to be a key area of investment for retailers with online operations. Some 65 percent of retailers surveyed plan to spend more on mobile marketing in 2016 than they did in 2015, specifically through smartphones. Retailers noted that their email subscribers open an average of 45 percent of emails on smartphones, ahead of an average of 41 percent on desktop systems and just 14 percent on tablets, underscoring that email is a top traffic driver to a mobile site.
The report additionally found that site merchandising connects all the dots for retailers looking to improve their customers’ online shopping experience – even across touchpoints. This year, 55 percent of retailers surveyed are increasing their online merchandising budgets, and 44 percent are increasing their staff dedicated to web merchandising.
Many retailers also are upping the ante on developing rich content to meet customers’ needs, even if creating, managing and keeping that content fresh isn’t always easy. Sixty-three percent of retailers said they're investing specifically in content this year to ensure that customers are provided with imagery, peer reviews and other online assets to help them choose the right product and confidently hit ‘buy.’ Retailers’ next challenge: Optimizing this rich content for smartphones.