Multiple surveys reveal shopping moods, trends via email and mobile communications

If your retail store or business is engaged in communicating with consumers via opt-in email or mobile promotions, you need to read the SNEWS summary report taken from several surveys on what consumers prefer when it comes to emails, coupons and more. You may be quite surprised.
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Recent surveys suggest consumers are particular about permission-based emails from companies and mobile shopping habits, and retailers making a play for email and mobile marketing better take note.

According to a white paper released earlier in November 2011 from MarketLive – 2011 Merchant Guide to Maximizing Sales – 39 percent of those surveyed said the ideal frequency of receiving email promotions is weekly, but more consumers would rather receive email promotions from retailers on a monthly basis (13 percent) rather than on a daily basis (8 percent).

Plus, in a 2011 survey called "The Social Break-up", Exact Target and CoTweet found 91 perdcent of U.S. email users who have suscribed to an company's email later decided they didn't want to receive it. Also, 18 percent of email users surveyed say they never open email from companies while 77 percent say they've become more cautious in the past year about providing personal email addresses to companies.

The most common reason given by 54 percent of consumers who unsubscribed from a permission-based email was that the emails came too frequently, and 47 percent of respondents said they unsubscribed because they received too many emails. Another 49 percent of shoppers (more than one answer was permitted to the question) unsubscribed because they said email content became boring or repetitive over time.

Email connection still seems to be a healthy communication option IF a company ensures it is meeting or exceeding consumer expectations when it comes to delivering timely and compelling content. Consumers' desire to connect with a company via email marketing remains strong – according to the survey 93 percent of consumers subscribe to at least one permission based email a day. And 42 percent of those subscribers said they're more likely to buy a company's products once they've signed up for its permission-based email.

In related news, another MarketLive survey on consumer shopping behaviors conducted in September 2011 found that 9 percent of consumers said that purchasing gifts as a result of a text message is one of their "top two very or somewhat likely activities," matched by the proportion who attribute the same importance to purchasing gifts from a mobile phone.

And as proof smartphones are becoming shopping tools, 14 percent of consumers cite researching gifts on a mobile phone during a store visit as a "top two very or somewhat likely activity," and 12 percent of those research gifts on their mobile phone prior to a store visit.

Other leading mobile shopping research activities include: checking for product ratings and reviews (32 percent); looking for competitive pricing at Amazon.com (31 percent); and browsing an online store for a product of interest (31 percent). Another 29 percent of online consumers report having looked at competitive prices for products at retailers other than Amazon.

Offering promotional coupons to shoppers via email and online might drive a purchase with smartphone users. According the survey, when focusing on in-store mobile behaviors of online consumers it found that 38 percent of shoppers report they have accessed promotional coupons for in-store redemption. Another 36 percent have checked for competitive prices both at Amazon.com and retailers other than Amazon, meaning mobile competitive price checks are slightly more popular in-store than out-of-store.

The in-store mobile activities of checking product ratings and reviews, scanning barcodes to compare prices to other retailers, and looking on a retailer’s website to find products beyond what is carried in the store, all have a 35 percent participation level among mobile shoppers.

Thirty-three percent of online consumers report they have both looked up prices on a retailer’s mobile site and scanned barcodes to obtain specific product information. QR codes appear to be fairly popular, as 31 percent of online consumers say they have both scanned QR codes to compare prices to other retailers and to learn more about a specific product.

Are smartphones influencing consumer behavior? Another August 2011 study from L.E.K. Consulting – the Mobile Commerce Survey – revealed that two-thirds of smartphone or tablet owners have used their devices to make purchases and more than 80 percent have used them to help in making the purchase decision. More telling, the survey found that 39 of consumers actually make purchases with their handheld devices at least every month (excluding music and video downloads), with 60 percent using smartphones to research purchases each month in a variety of ways.

--Michael Hodgson

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