Consumers want relevant, personalized interaction with brands, and so a growing number of retailers are now experimenting with a variety of social and mobile initiatives.
In fact, The State Of Retailing Online 2011: Marketing, Social, and Mobile, a report conducted by Forrester Research Inc. for Shop.org, found that nearly three-fourths (72 percent) of retailers plan to increase their spending on social networks this year. In addition, the vast majority (91 percent) of the retailers surveyed currently have a mobile strategy in place or in development –that’s up from 74 percent in 2010.
The study, which polled 68 companies, also revealed that despite all the enthusiasm for digital marketing strategies, significant challenges remain. For instance:
- Retailers continue to struggle with social media ROI. 62 percent of retailers said the returns on social marketing strategies are unclear. About the same percentage said the primary ROI from social marketing is listening to — and gaining a better understanding of — customers. Even so, social networks ranked fourth on the list of successful customer acquisition sources, up significantly from last year.
- The rapid evolution of app/mobile/web ecosystems makes it difficult for retailers to find stable footing with mobile technology. Forrester found that less than half (48 percent) of retailers have a mobile-optimized website. Only 35 percent have deployed an iPhone app, and even fewer (15 percent) offer an Android app and an iPad app. (Interestingly, the survey also revealed that 21 percent of all mobile traffic now comes from tablets –which simply underscores the growing gap between how consumers access information and the way marketers offer it.)
“After spending the last few years learning how to capitalize on social media and new mobile technologies, one of retailers’ main focuses right now seems to be leveraging the tremendous popularity of tablet devices, such as the iPad,” said Shop.org Head of Research Fiona Swerdlow. “As sales channels continue to blur in retail, companies are creating mobile apps that make their brands seem current, entertaining, or fun, while at the same time creating a unique opportunity to connect with more shoppers than ever before.”