Email, not social media, still reigns supreme as the top marketing tool for business owners.
Even retailers as different as Williams-Sonoma and Home Depot have taken on the task of sending out customer specific emails, rather than the one-size-fits-all blasts that once dominated this type of marketing.
If sales are measured by per dollar spent, email outperforms social-media advertising 3-to-1, says the Direct Marketing Association, a trade group founded to provide accurate marketing data. That explains why retailers will send 19 percent more emails this year.
Compared with social-media, email marketing will never be sexy, said Ted Wham, a vice president of Responsys, a San Bruno, Calif., firm that helps companies build digital relationships with customers.
“But it depends on what’s sexy to you,” he said. “In my opinion, making a high profit rate and bringing in a lot of incremental dollars is very sexy.”
Competition was fierce this holiday shopping season as the National Retail Federation predicted sales would rise 4.1 percent to about $586.1 billion in the period, compared with a 5.6 percent increase in 2011. Online sales may grow to a record $43.4 billion in the last two months of the year, a 17 percent increase from last year, ComScore says.
The number of Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers making purchases after clicking through from social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube declined by at least 26 to 10 percent this year from 2011, even as online sales soared, IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark said last month. So-called social sales contributed less than 0.5 percent of online revenue both days.
Major retailers are on track to send subscribers an average of 211 promotional emails in 2012 compared with 177 last year, Responsys says.
Email provided $39.40 in sales per dollar of advertising this year, followed by $22.38 through Web search, $19.71 from Internet display ads and $12.90 from social networks, the Direct Marketing Association said.