Forrester Reveals the Current State of Retailing Online
Forrester’s Sucharita Mulpuru, who spoke at Newgistics’ Executive Forum earlier this month, recently published a report titled, The State Of Retailing Online: Marketing. The research was based on a survey of more than 80 retailers that Shop.org and Forrester conducted to benchmark and gauge interactive marketing priorities. Today we’ll take a quick look at the results – what’s remained the same, what’s surprising and how retailers can improve efficiency. Here are some of the highlights. Paid Search Continues to Be the Top Acquisition Channel for Online Retailers Google dominates. As in years past, retailers identified search engine marketing as the single most effective customer acquisition tactic in the 2014 survey. Most retailers invest in paid search programs, since three quarters of those surveyed have found their paid search programs bring in revenue. While a relatively new vehicle, retailers are also beginning to realize the value of Google Product Listing Ads. And unsurprisingly, there’s still the long-trusted, yet inexpensive focus on search engine optimization (SEO). Mobile Marketing Spend Is Growing but Focuses Primarily on Email With the proliferation of apps and social media channels, email has gained a reputation for being an antiquated form of communication, used less frequently by young consumers. Forrester’s report, however, shows that email is still a key area of focus as a staggering 100 percent of respondents utilized email to house lists. Being cost-effective is not one of email’s only benefits; it has also turned out to be a key tactic to engage shoppers on mobile devices, particularly smartphones. With 42 percent of emails now opened on smartphones, it seems that email offers an easy avenue for retailers to become more mobile-focused. It’s clear that mobile marketing is still a work in progress. Even though more traffic and sales are coming through mobile devices, marketing programs to support that traffic are not always in place. But budgets are slowly increasing. Other ways retailers are diversifying their marketing spend and investing more in mobile include display ads, affiliates and social tactics. Online Retailers Rarely Use Attribution Models Complex marketing attribution assesses which marketing touchpoints work best. However, implementing an attribution model may seem messy or complicated to many retailers. As a result, most retailers steer away in favor of the more widely-used – and less reliable – last-click model. Many retailers avoid attribution models because they can’t recognize consumers across devices nor connect data across different devices, making it impossible to tie consumer behaviors together. This failure to connect shoppers across touchpoints hinders accurate attribution. As more retailers improve their ability to properly track consumer behavior, there will hopefully be an increase in the number of retailers realizing the value of attribution models. As a retailer, how do you compare? Do you find paid search to be a top acquisition channel? At a time when the importance of mobile marketing continues to grow, where is your focus? Have you embraced complex attribution models or, like many other retailers, do you find them too hard to implement? These are all questions you should be asking to continue finely tuning your operation and adapting to the fast-paced and quickly evolving ecommerce industry.