Social and mobile may be trendy in retail marketing circles, but the facts, as various research reports have shown, is that most consumers prefer to get their electronic communications via e-mail. The surprising thing is that retailers know this, have known it for some time, and still are not very good at it.
Among my personal pet peeves with retailers involve e-mail blitzes, off-target targeted pitches and insincere messages of thanks.
Pretty much everyone has been hit with an e-mail blitz. You decide to opt-in to receive a retailer's promotional emails and they come in without let-up. Kohl's, I found, was among the biggest transgressors in this regard before I opted out of their e-mails a couple of years back.
Count me among those who think retailers should spend much less time talking about Big Data until they come up with a whole lot of small answers — such as answering, what is it the customer really wants? As much as I enjoy shopping on Amazon.com, I've begun to think they are employing a grasp-at-straws algorithm to guess what I'm likely to buy next. I ordered a laser printer cartridge recently and, based on past usage, it should last me about two years. Amazon apparently has no way of figuring this out on its own and hasn't bothered to ask me. Instead, it has sent me several e-mails pitching me on similar products I neither need nor want.
Finally, there are those follow-up thank you e-mails that tell you how much a retailer values your business and offers a discount on your next order as long as you place it right away. I understand the reason behind these e-mails, but it's shortsighted. If you value my business and want me back, make the offer without the strings attached. Loyalty is a two-way street. If you want mine, then send me an e-mail that demonstrates you want my business, but understand the best and only way to do that is on my terms.
How effectively are retailers using e-mail communications to drive sales?