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Retailers Renew Email Blasts

Never mind social media. Retailers have been increasingly turning to a relatively old-school weapon to reach more customers: e-mail.

The number of emails retailers sent to customers jumped 20% in the first half of the year over the same period in 2011, according to a survey released this week by Responsys, a California-based marketing software company. In June alone, these stores sent an average of 16 emails per subscriber, up 21% on last year.

Why the jump in email blasts? There’s been a lot of “hand-wringing” over the efficiency of social networking platforms, says Chad White, research director at Responsys. Retailers are growing impatient with Twitter and Facebook and want to see an immediate return on their time and money, he says. In fact, only 20% of Fortune 500′s 100 largest companies engage with their customers on Facebook, according to a new survey by marketing consultants Bluewolf, and those that do tend to use the platform primarily for customer service.

Some retailers say email remains a more effective marketing tool than social media sites. “The world is still trying to figure out how to use social media the best way,” says Jonathan Johnson, president at Overstock.com. (Overstock.com is one of the 500 retailers in the survey.)

Tablets and Smartphones make consumers a moving target for click-happy retailers on national holidays and weekends, experts say. People weren’t accessible on these days in previous years, but that’s rapidly changing: The number of people using their mobile phones to open email has risen 28% over the past year, according to market researcher ComScore Inc. “Memorial Day and 4th of July were a sniffle last year compared to the number of emails sent out this year,” White says.

But email blasts do encourage consumers to click on offers, experts say. “The fastest growing category in retail is online sales,” says Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates, a New York-based retail consultant and investment bank. Recession-scarred consumers are more likely to make impulse purchases online, he says. In fact, recent studies show that online retailing has been thriving – in sharp contrast to the rest of the sector. Online retail spending in the U.S. rose 17% on the year in the first quarter of 2012, the 10th consecutive quarter of growth, according to ComScore.

And given lackluster store sales, aggressive emailing is also a particularly cheap way for retailers to reach existing customers compared, White says. “The recession has made retailers renew their focus on keeping the customers they have rather than attracting new customers,” he says. “For retailers already suffering slower sales, the latter is a far more attractive proposition.” June retail sales grew by 2.5%, the slowest pace in more than two years, according to data released this week from 18 retail chains tracked by Thomson Reuters.

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    • I run a company (marketvex.com) and one thing that struck me in the comments was “A few really impress me by doing so just enough so that I do not forget about them and we do business again when I need their product.” That is the exact advice we give our clients. Usually we send our campaigns once a month, no more (unless they have a unique special every one in a while). This formula has worked well over the years and it keeps unsubscribes down.

    • Interesting point about reaching consumers via email on their mobile device during the holidays. That is a relatively new tactic and one that will increase substantially over the next few years. It is more important than ever that retailers collect a valid email address during checkout or on their registration form. At LeadSpend, we provide retailers with an email validation service to ensure just that.

    • Mjolnir,

      If the company is a legitimate one that you have done business with, unsubscribing does typically work (I have done it with many and the emails do stop). If it is a true spammer, you are correct. I give each retailer a chance to NOT over email me (Staples is insane as are many others – about one every other day in Staples case!), but most annoy me (abuse the privilege) and I end up unsubscribing. A few really impress me by doing so just enough so that I do not forget about them and we do business again when I need their product.

    • I run an email marketing software company. Our clients must sign a Terms of Services agreement that their list is truly OPT IN only. We can also tell if they are purchased.

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      The key we drive our clients toward is making sure their emails are highly targeted to actual insterests of the end recipient. We offer great segmenting, to make sure a woman doesn’t get an email for a male product, or a single guy doesn’t get an email for baby wipes… etc

      It can also offer info based on products the recipients own.

      Theres some cool stuff in there.

      wwwlistrocket.com/freeaccount Try it on me!

About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to quentin.fottrell@dowjones.com or tweet @SMPayDirt.

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Markets »

132.55MDow Volume:
Avg Vol: 132.70M
Unchanged
134
Decliners
1500
Advancers
4873
Price Chg %Chg 1 Day
Range: 1 Day
  • 1 Day
  • 5 Days
  • 1 Month
  • 3 Months
  • 6 Months
  • 1 Year
  • 2 Years
Dow
/quotes/zigman/627449/realtime 15,974 +314 2.00%
Nasdaq
/quotes/zigman/12633936/realtime 4,338 +71 1.66%
S&P 500
/quotes/zigman/3870025/realtime 1,865 +36 1.95%
GlobalDow
/quotes/zigman/629063/realtime 2,070 +23 1.11%
Gold
/quotes/zigman/33772884/delayed 1,239 -9 0.75%
Oil
/quotes/zigman/2260836/delayed 29.02 +2.81 10.72%
FTSE 100
/quotes/zigman/3173262/delayed 5,708 +171 3.08%
DAX
/quotes/zigman/2380246/delayed 8,968 +215 2.45%
CAC 40
/quotes/zigman/3173214/delayed 3,995 +98 2.52%
FTSE MIB
/quotes/zigman/1482176/delayed 16,515 +742 4.70%
IBEX 35
/quotes/zigman/2759620/delayed 7,921 +175 2.25%
Stoxx 600
/quotes/zigman/2380150/delayed 312 +9 2.91%
Asia Dow
/quotes/zigman/6959860/realtime 2,385 -51 2.10%
Nikkei 225
/quotes/zigman/5986735/delayed 14,953 -761 4.84%
Hang Seng
/quotes/zigman/2622475/delayed 18,320 -226 1.22%
Shanghai
/quotes/zigman/1859015/delayed 2,763 -18 0.63%
Sensex
/quotes/zigman/1652085/delayed 22,986 +34 0.15%
Singapore
/quotes/zigman/1709939/delayed 2,540 +2 0.07%
Euro
/quotes/zigman/16008136/realtime/sampled 1.13 -0.01 0.61%
Yen
/quotes/zigman/16008150/realtime/sampled 113.25 +0.83 0.74%
Pound
/quotes/zigman/16008140/realtime/sampled 1.45 +0.00 0.18%
Australia$
/quotes/zigman/16008115/realtime/sampled 0.71 0.00 0.04%
DXY Index
/quotes/zigman/1652083/delayed 95.97 +0.36 0.38%
WSJ $ Idx
/quotes/zigman/41508961/realtime 88.99 +0.23 0.26%
U.S. 10yr
/quotes/zigman/15866666/realtime 1.75 0.00 0.00%
German 10y
/quotes/zigman/15866409/realtime 0.26 +0.07 37.97%
Italy 10yr
/quotes/zigman/15866497/realtime 1.64 -0.08 4.67%
Spain 10yr
/quotes/zigman/15866444/realtime 1.74 -0.04 2.01%
U.K. 10yr
/quotes/zigman/15866328/realtime 1.42 0.00 0.00%
Japan 10yr
/quotes/zigman/15866525/realtime 0.08 0.00 0.00%
Crude Oil
/quotes/zigman/2260836/delayed 29 +3 10.72%
Gold
/quotes/zigman/33772884/delayed 1,239 -9 0.75%
Corn
/quotes/zigman/25518691/delayed 359 -1 0.35%
DJIA F
/quotes/zigman/48241424/delayed 15,925 +313 2.00%
S&P F
/quotes/zigman/43106711/delayed 1,860 +36 1.95%
Silver
/quotes/zigman/32655632/delayed 16 0 0.03%

Quotes

Symbol Price Change % Change
FB /quotes/zigman/9962609/composite 102.01 0.10 0.10%
AAPL /quotes/zigman/68270/composite 93.99 0.29 0.31%
GOOG /quotes/zigman/59527964/composite 682.40 -0.71 -0.10%
BAC /quotes/zigman/190927/composite 11.95 0.79 7.08%
C /quotes/zigman/5065548/composite 37.54 2.56 7.32%
F /quotes/zigman/264304/composite 11.55 0.38 3.40%
T /quotes/zigman/398198/composite 36.47 0.26 0.72%
BP /quotes/zigman/247026/composite 29.02 1.38 4.99%
GE /quotes/zigman/227468/composite 28.26 0.81 2.95%
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Rates »

5 yr CD
1.3%
2 yr CD
0.7%
1 yr CD
0.6%
MMA $10K+
0.2%
MMA $50K+
0.4%

National averages from Bankrate.com

You Don’t Need Another Credit Card, You Need A Better One.
Avg. APR Last Week 6 Months
Low Interest 11.96% 11.96% 11.62%
Business 13.12% 13.12% 12.85%
Student 13.42% 13.42% 13.14%
Balance Transfer 14.35% 14.35% 14.12%
Airline 15.17% 15.17% 15.10%
Cash Back 15.20% 15.26% 15.27%
Reward 15.25% 15.28% 15.14%
Instant Approval 18.02% 18.21% 18.00%
Bad Credit 22.56% 22.88% 22.73%
Source:CreditCards.com

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