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Retailers Increasing Digital Marketing

Huntington Beach, Calif. – Retailers are upping their email and paid search marketing budgets in an effort to capture and capitalize on growing mobile traffic.

According to a new report by and Forrester Research, nearly nine in 10 (87 percent) of e-tailers surveyed indicate they’ve either implemented or are planning to implement mobile e-mail optimization in 2013, while seven in 10 will optimize paid search for smartphones and tablets (71 percent and 73 percent, respectively). 

“As consumer adoption of smartphones and tablets in the U.S. reaches critical mass, retailers know that their marketing mix has to work optimally for all customer touchpoints now,” said Vicki Cantrell, executive director, the e-tail wing of the National Retail Federation (NRF), the retail trade group. “E-mail has always been one of most effective customer retention vehicles in the market, so it’s no surprise to see retailers investing to make email engaging and relevant for the increasingly mobile consumer.”

According to the study, retailers said that on average 28 percent of e-mails sent to customers are first opened on a smartphone, while the percentage is even higher (42 percent) for small dealers.

Across all digital platforms, e-mail and search are where four out of five retailers (80 percent) are most likely to invest more this year than last, signaling their understanding that they need to balance investments and resources in both retention and acquisition, said. Many retailers are adjusting their staffing accordingly, bolstering marketing budget allocations for search and e-mail with investments in skill sets and staff. Indeed, 40 percent of retailers surveyed plan to hire for open positions in marketing analytics in 2013, reflecting the need to wrestle down volumes of marketing data to create more effective interactions and an improved customer experience.

While improving the customer shopping experience is key for merchandisers, enhancements for online retailers come in the form of video, personalized content, and more, said. According to the study, product detail page improvements, particularly video offerings, will be a top focus this year, with nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of respondents investing in integrating video into their sites. Another 62 percent indicated that recommendations and personalization features will be a priority, including integrating capabilities to create different home pages and creating unique pages for their customers based on purchase history. 

“Retailers continue to optimize the customer experience on their site and to that end have made investments in A/B testing, product detail page enhancements, and personalization mainstream,” noted Forrester Research VP and principal analyst Sucharita Mulpuru. “Going forward, however, we expect to see much more emphasis on checkout enhancements, as that is a key obstacle for direct transactions on mobile devices.”