How personalized emails inspire shoppers to take action (like spend money)

The UpTake: E-commerce sites might think that email is an old-fashioned way to reach customers, but with the ability to make these missives personalized, that’s all changed.

While organic search is still the leading way for customers to find e-commerce sites and pull out their credit cards to buy, a new study by online retail analytics firm Custora released today found that customer acquisition via old-fashioned e-mail has quadrupled over the last four years.

Email customer acquisition now represents 6.84 percent of traffic acquired compared to 9.82 percent of customers acquired via organic search, which is the top method of acquisition. Social media outlets score much lower, the study found.

We asked Aaron Goodman, lead data scientist at New York-based Custora about this finding via email (yeah, for q and a’s there is no beating it). He said that the increase occurred because brands have tailored email marketing campaigns to fit personalized tastes.

“This means of engaging with customers is more sophisticated, directly incorporating data findings of shopping trends and habits to help impact messaging style, discounts and giveaways, and other specificities to make an email that much more enticing and relevant to customers,” he says. “This relevancy helps offer customers what they want, as well as draw back fleeing users.”

Facebook, by contrast, results in a mere 0.17 percent of customer acquisition, while Twitter represents less than .01 percent.

Another surprising stat: even though fashion brands find their best customers in densely populated coastal areas such as New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Portland, Oregon, the most valuable online shoppers tend to come from rural states. (Reason: they have fewer options for buying specialty goods locally.)

In other words, targeting customers in rural states is a great idea, he says.

“Not many companies are doing this now but it is a great opportunity to address an underserved market,” Goodman says. “Simply put, many customers living in rural areas do not have access to the type of storefronts that those in major metropolitan cities do. Retailers can now reach these rural customers digitally, through their website, via email marketing campaigns, and by investing in geo-targeted display ads. When retailers are targeting rural shoppers, they should also think about pain points of these customers, such as shipping costs and shipping time, and how to best address these.”

Custora, a customer acquisition and retention platform that provides analytics to online retailers, says this is just the first of what it says will be a series of reports examining emerging e-commerce customer acquisition trends.

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