Email’s the Holiday Gift That Keeps on Giving

Santa may still be the hardest-working mover of merchandise this holiday season, but email will be a close number two. A survey of 379 global marketers who plan to run holiday-specific campaigns conducted by Experian Marketing Services found that email will be the primary conduit to consumers by a wide margin.

Fully 91% of marketers said they’d rely on email to deliver the goods in December, far ahead of websites (76%), social media (70%), and display ads (47%). Mobile, which has been ballyhooed as the prime mover in holiday sales, was named by only 40% of those surveyed.

That’s because email remains the hub of most cross-channel campaigns. Two thirds (68%) of marketers said it was the channel they integrated the most in holiday messaging, followed by social (61%), website (58%), and mobile (37%). Separate research by Experian found that 71% of adults who shop online are influenced to take some sort of action by emails, and 40% of them said that action was clicking through to a retail site or making a purchase.

Interestingly, while 71% of North American marketers said they’d be working cross-channel campaigns this holiday, only 59% of the global sample said so. Top reasons cited for begging off were lack of budget, organizational structure, and lack of clear understanding of customer behavior. Global results were heavily weighted by marketers from Brazil, 56% of whom said they wouldn’t go cross-channeling this Christmas.

Other key findings of the study:

  • Fewer marketers in North America (58%) said they’d be targeting their best customers than in South America, but it’s more a philosophical than a data issue. Sellers in the U.S. say they consider all of their customers to be potential best customers during the holidays.
  • Almost half of those surveyed (49%) said they’d devote 10% or less of their annual budgets to holiday marketing campaigns. Two thirds of North American marketers reported they’d spend 20% or less, as did three quarters of South Americans.
  • Facebook will be the big beneficiary of the growth in social campaigns. In North America, 70% of marketers said they’d use organic posts on the social network and 46% planned to use paid posts. Some 57% said they’d be conducting holiday business on Twitter.
  • Free shipping promotions will diminish globally, but will remain a mainstay in the U.S., where 38% of marketers will offer it. Globally, only 25% will. Other top promotional themes in the states will be e-coupons, deals of the day, and friends and family discounts.
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