NRF Study: Facebook leads digital marketing spend

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Interactive media continues to shake up retailers’ digital marketing strategies.

While paid search and email marketing still lead retailers’ lists of effective customer acquisition channels, social media and mobile marketing are gaining traction and budgets, according to the annual report, “State of Retailing Online 2016: Marketing and Merchandising,” from the National Retail Federation and Forrester. The report reveals digital marketing investments, mobile marketing efforts, and website merchandising tactics among retail eBusiness executives at large and mid-sized retail companies.

While search engine optimization (SEO) remains a priority, the report revealed that 92% of retailers surveyed are investing in social media marketing to some degree this year. This is second only to email (94%).

“Retailers are not only increasing their social media budgets, but they are looking at new ways to update their online content and stay on top of new trends to continue to grow their customer acquisition online and in-store,” said NRF’s senior VP and executive director Vicki Cantrell.

Social media is not only a cost effective tool for many retailers, but it is also driving revenue. Specifically, 68% of retailers surveyed say they were seeing increased conversion from their paid Facebook efforts, and 40% claim the same from paid Instagram efforts, the report said.

“Although email and SEO are tools frequently used by retail marketers, it was not a surprise to see that social media is gaining traction with retailers as they continue to further connect and engage with consumers,” she added.

Social media success aside, mobile also continues to be a key investment area. In fact, 65% of retailers plan to spend more on mobile marketing in 2016 than in 2015, specifically through smartphones, data revealed. Retailers also noted that their email subscribers open an average of 45% of emails on smartphones, surpassing desktop devices (41%), and tablets (14%) — underscoring that email is a top traffic driver to a mobile site.


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