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Email and Search Still Sway Most Online Buyers

May 16, 2011
  |  10,253 views

Email and search marketing still have the greatest influence on consumers' online buying behaviors, whereas social media, though it generates awareness, is rarely associated with direct revenue, according to a study by Forrester Research and GSI Commerce.

Most online consumers are influenced by Web marketing messages: 77% of buyers of hard-goods items (e.g., sporting goods, toys/games, and health/beauty products) during the 2010 holiday season interacted with some type of marketing tactic prior to purchase.

Similarly, 82% of buyers of soft-goods items (apparel and accessories) during the same period were influenced by digital marketing before making a purchase.

Moreover, roughly one-half of holiday purchases followed multiple exposures to Web marketing efforts: 45% and 53% of hard- and soft-goods transactions, respectively, touched at least two marketing touch-points.

Below, other findings from The Purchase Path of Online, conducted by Forrester Research on behalf of GSI Commerce.


Search and Email's Influence

Search and email were the most effective tactics in driving sales during the holidays: On average, 39% of hard-goods transactions and 60% of soft-goods transactions arrived to retail websites via email and search:

  • In the hard-goods category, 22% of holiday transactions started with email and 17% started with search.
  • Among buyers of soft-goods, 37% of transactions started with email; 23% started with search.

The above data exclude purchases made during the peak, promotional periods of Thanksgiving weekend and Cyber Monday.


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  • by Spencer Broome Mon May 16, 2011 via web

    Not terribly surprising. Email is the tool that won't stop giving.

  • by Jerry Nguyen Mon May 16, 2011 via web

    Great article and like Spencer said, it's not surprising. Most of our (www.e-sharper.com) online revenue comes from our email and search marketing campaigns. Social Media is great for building awareness, but we've yet to see any revenue coming from it.

  • by Harry Hallman Tue May 17, 2011 via web

    Great study. My own experiences support this with one other point. I have found that being active in social media sites tends to increase the number of people conducting searches using the company’s name and these searches do generate online sales.

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