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April Showers And The Email Flood

Apr 18, 2016
Marshal Cohen, Chief Industry Analyst ;

Springtime bloomed in stores months ago, though the season is only a few weeks old and, moreover, it hasn’t felt much like it in many parts of the country. For all this time, retailers’ heaps of promotional emails and text messages touting skirts and spring essentials have likely been overlooked by consumers.

Over 196 billion emails were sent and received around the world each day in 2014, and that figure is projected to rise to over 227 billion by 2018. Looking at business email alone, each user receives, on average, nearly 90 emails per day*. Add our personal accounts and text messaging into the mix and the result is a burdensome amount of content to filter through and read, day after day.

According to a recent NPD survey**, regardless of age, almost one-third of consumers responded that they receive “too many” emails and/or text messages about apparel clothing. About the same percentage said they “don’t get any” of these types of communications, and just over one-third said the quantity is “just right.” These results are somewhat unexpected, and pose a real challenge for marketers. In order to attract, connect with, and maintain consumers across such equally divided groups, brands and retailers need to delve deeper and ask some questions to understand each of them.

  • How can frustration and negative feelings about digital communications be turned around?
  • Is there a missed opportunity with the consumers that don’t receive any of these communications?
  • Are the consumers that feel things are being done just right being more selective by subscribing to retailers that are ‘doing it right’, or do they simply have a higher tolerance for these types of communications?

There are numerous scenarios at play; nonetheless, the fact that promotions are a strategic and effective way to reach consumers and boost ROI is consistent across the board. As consumers turn their minds toward spring, this is prime time for brands and retailers to set their sights on a fresh approach.

As we experienced on the East Coast, spring took its time to arrive; the season began with high 60-degree days overlapping with snow showers and below freezing temperatures. More than one-third of consumers did not yet have spring apparel shopping on their radar**. Despite the unpredictable weather, by now many consumers are getting spring shopping fever and have grown tired of sweaters and turtlenecks. In stores, which abide by the retail calendar regardless of the temperature outside their doors, April is the month when they begin to mark down spring-related product after months of stocking it in their stores. Digital promotions provide an opportunity for retailers to tailor the message they use to reach consumers, tout these promotions, and drive traffic when it’s more in line with the consumers’ wants.

One key to achieving optimal balance across consumer segments is through greater customization and personalization of digital communications. Brands and retailers need to tailor their messages by age, demographic, geography, and by paying attention to past interaction and behavior. Identifying with consumers in this way could breathe new life into digital communications.

*Email Statistics Report 2014-2018, The Radicati Group
**The NPD Group, Inc. / March 2016 Omnibus