Email Newsletter Readers Key Target for SMB Customer Retention

BY Courtney Huckabay
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An Emarsys survey finds SMBs are adapting quickly to the omnichannel paradigm to compete. 81% of retail professionals still rely on email as a driver for customer acquisition, and 80% rely on it for customer retention.

Emarsys, a provider of cloud marketing software for B2C companies, has released the results of its in-​person and online survey of 254 retail professionals published in partnership with WBR Digital.

The survey, "Adapting to the Pace of Omnichannel Commerce," examines how U.S.-based small and medium-​sized businesses with annual revenues under $100 million are handling fierce competition from today’s larger retail players.

Based on the findings of top retail SMBs surveyed:

  • 81% of SMBs still rely on email as a driver for customer acquisition, and 80% for customer retention
  • 73% of retailers rank email as a top budget item, with one in five ranking it as a top priority to invest
  • SMBs saw gains in major KPIs: conversion rates increased by 72%, average order value increased by 65%, and repeat customer purchases increased by 58%
  • 70% of SMBs begin holiday planning no later than July
  • 54% of SMBs identified cart abandonment emails as the most successful marketing tactic and site-​based recommendations came in second at 47%

AudienceSCAN also found that email is effective in reaching new customers as well as engaging current customers. 24.3% of U.S. adults said "Newsletters" when asked: "Which types of email messages do you prefer to get from your favorite stores or businesses?"

"We found that SMBs are nimble and quick to respond in today’s competitive retail environment,” said Sean Brady, President of the Americas, Emarsys. “SMBs seek agile platforms that are quick to implement and easy to use. Additionally, SMBs are leveraging insights on customer behavior to create a seamless shopping experience for customers across devices and channels. This is evidence that SMBs are focused on customer retention – something the bigger players need to consider.”

Discounts are the clear winner as far as messaging and content go. AudienceSCAN reported 40.4% of Email Newsletter Readers prefer to get "Limited-​time offers/​sales" from their favorite stores or businesses.

Additional key findings include:

  1. SMBs in B2C retail are developing omnichannel strategies around proven success.
  2. Faced with strong competition from larger players, SMBs are spending more time preparing for the critical holiday shopping season.
  3. SMBs are attempting to bring more advanced technology to the fore, and keep pace with omnichannel innovations by linking the digital experience with the brick-​and-​mortar experience, while investing in mobile commerce capabilities.

Retailers should try informative messages to reach different segments of customers. AudienceSCAN revealed 17% of Email Newsletter Readers prefer to get "How-​tos/​Ideas" from their favorite stores or businesses.

Search is also a strong performer, per the Emarsys research. Among the 10 specific digital activities listed, organic and paid search ranked second and third in customer acquisition, with paid search third for retention and organic search fifth.

While the issue of ROI continues to persist with respect to social media, retail SMBs do feel that it’s effective for them. Social media ranked fourth among all channels as a customer acquisition driver, and second in driving retention.

Meanwhile, email also benefits from being relatively easy to execute and relatively inexpensive. In fact, asked to rank their marketing spend across six areas, just 20% of respondents to the Emarsys survey said that email is where they spend the most. By comparison, almost three times more respondents (57%) pointed to search as their top spending channel.

Email is an easy and affordable way to show a business' creativity. 12.6% of Email Newsletter Readers prefer "entertaining content" from their favorite stores or businesses, according to AudienceSCAN research.

Notably, social media seems to be a strong performer in acquisition and retention despite smaller budgets. Only 4% of respondents named it their top-​spending area, although an additional 21% put it in their top‑2. The analysts note that “while it is not a primary piece of a marketing strategy, it is a versatile complement to other channels and a key part of an omnichannel approach."

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies, or with the SalesFuel API. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.