UK online retailers are disturbingly uninformed about the effectiveness of their digital marketing mix, despite facing one of the most frugal consumer Christmases on record, research from Coremetrics has revealed.
Coremetrics commissioned the survey to investigate the dynamics of European digital marketing, as seen through retailers' own eyes, as well as the customers they target.
The survey found that 94% of UK e-retailers take a multi-channel approach, using five or more digital marketing elements, but of these, 74% do not measure Return On Investment (ROI).
Search, renowned as one of the most measurable techniques proved to be a 'shot in the dark' activity - with 80% of natural search and 66% of Pay Per Click (PPC) activities not measured for ROI.
Richard Sheppard, VP, EMEA, Coremetrics, said: "Measurability of online is vital to understanding how to attribute marketing budgets to best serve visitors and drive future sales. Frankly we were shocked to see how few marketing decisions are made based on tangible success rates. Buying behaviour has drastically altered due to the recession, so now more than ever, it's crucial for retailers to understand their online visitors to help them maintain a competitive edge."
The Coremetrics' survey also examined consumer-spending habits, unsurprisingly finding that price-cutting was the biggest priority for 92% of consumers this Christmas. Encouraging friends and family to cap spending on gifts (55 per cent), buying cheaper gifts (32 per cent) and stalling shopping until the January sales (16 per cent), were the most popular Christmas cost-cutting strategies for consumers.
However, Coremetrics' research showed more effective ways of targeting to gain a competitive edge in tough times. Chief channels identified by consumers for driving their buying decisions were price comparison websites (61%), online reviews (53%) and brand recognition (44%). Yet, of those marketers that do not already carry out these tactics, just 17% plan to introduce email promotions, and 23% special offers, suggesting a disparity in understanding between marketers and their audiences.
Richard Sheppard added, "Increased special offers can often be the automatic response by a marketer trying to reach cash-strapped consumers. However, they should not fall into the trap of devaluing their brands with flagrant price cutting. Our research shows that consumers are actually far more responsive to the benefits offered by alternative channels. Instead, they should seek ways to cost-effectively improve their marketing mix - thereby appealing to broader market segments, as opposed to just the bargain hunters."
'The Eyes & Ears of Digital Marketing Survey' was conducted by Dynamic Markets, on behalf of Coremetrics in November 2008. The digital marketing survey was conducted amongst middle and senior marketing managers responsible for e-commerce sites of large retail and wholesale companies with more than 250 employees. 100 respondents were surveyed in the UK, France and Germany, totalling 300 respondents. The consumer survey was conducted among 1,000 adult consumers, aged 18+, in the UK, France & Germany, totalling 3,000 respondents.