Why Consumers Click, Follow and Buy from Email, Social Media and Display Ads

Study – Why Consumers Click, Follow and Buy

A new study offers insights for retailers as to why consumers click, follow and buy from retail brands online and in brick-and-mortar stores, including from email, social media and display ad marketing campaigns. Use these actionable insights to improve your digital marketing plan.

Yes Marketing surveyed 1,006 consumers across 4 generational groups (Centennials, Millennials, Gen X and Boomers) to find out which digital marketing channels were most effective in generating engagement and sales. Download the free report – from Yes Marketing which included:

  • 20% Centennials – Age 10-23
  • 21% Millennials – Age 24-39
  • 20% Gen X – Age 40-54
  • 20% Baby boomers – Age 55-73
  • 20% Silent Generation – Age 74+
  • 49.5% Female
  • 50% Male
  • 0.5% Other

Offers, offers, offers – The motivating power of incentives

  • 63% of consumers follow retail brands on social media to learn about sales
  • 60% of consumers will make a purchase when emails offer a discount or free shipping
  • 55% of consumers clicked on a display ad and purchased because the ad offered a discount

Exactly half of those responding to the study said they had made a purchase after clicking on a retailer’s display ad. They did so because:

Why consumers clicked on a display ad
  • 54% – Discount offered in the ad
  • 43% – Ad promoted something they needed
  • 43% – Ad promoted a product relevant to their interests
  • 26% – Ad promoted a product they had recently browsed
  • 23% – They liked the retailer
  • 17% – Ad reminded them to reorder a product

From the top down – email marketing for high ROI and consumer preference

Email marketing still holds top honors in both marketing ROI (return on investment) and consumer preference. In fact, as many consumers choose email as their preferred channel for brand communications as all of the other channels combined (social media, display advertising, mobile app and text messaging).

Consumer brand communication preferences
  • 47% – Email marketing
  • 17% – Display ads
  • 14% – Text marketing
  • 12% – Mobile app
  • 10% – Social media

On average, email marketing produces a ROI of $44 for every $1 spent and half of all consumers rank it as their preferred way to communicate with retailers.

So what will make people open your brand emails? According to the study, the top ways you can get customers to open and potentially act on your email marketing is to:

1. Include a special offer –

60% made purchases when an email provided discounts, free shipping or other incentives

2. Improve your subject lines –

42% stay subscribed but only open emails based on a relevant subject line, 60% made a purchase when the email included a discount or similar incentive

Subject lines between 1 and 20 characters have a 31% higher-than-average open rate (Wow! Yes Marketing Subject Line Benchmarks report)

Personalized subject lines had 50% higher open rates and 2.5x more unique clicks than those that were not personalized with the name of the recipient

3. Reward loyalty –

41% said emails that offered incentives and perks based on membership motivated them to make a purchase

4. And personalize rewards –

36% made purchases when emails celebrated a milestone (birthday, anniversary, anniversary with the retailer, etc.)

5. Make them feel like VIPs –

36% purchased when a retailer emailed them with an exclusive offer (friends and family sale, sneak peek, etc.)

6. Reminder them to buy –

28% made purchases when a retailer’s email reminded them of something they needed

26% purchased from a retailer after receiving email marketing about a product they researched or abandoned in a cart

Emails that offer free shipping and percent (%) off discounts get the highest conversion rates; however, loyalty incentives garner the highest engagement (open rate, click to open rate). Emails that had specific product or service names in the subject line received 5x the conversion rates of emails that just had the word “deal” or which had no special offers.

From the bottom up – Where social media engagement comes from

When it comes to social media, consumer engagement is motivated by several factors. While email marketing engagement is dominated by special offers, freebies and exclusives, what gets a consumer to retweet, like or share a retailer’s social media post is more varied:

Why consumers share brand social posts
  • 36% – Discount or some other perk for sharing
  • 36% – Share product or sale info with their own followers
  • 35% – Agree personally with the post’s content
  • 30% – Found the post funny or interesting
  • 29% – Share positive feedback
  • 20% – Share negative feedback

Retailers who focus on offers are missing the mark with many social media followers. The Yes Marketing study found that consumer engagement on social media comes from brand content that shows personality, point of view, humor, entertainment, important news, etc. To improve your brand’s rate of engagement with consumers on social media:

1. Speak to your audience

And to do that, you have to have a strong sense of the type of content most likely to entertain, engage, motivate and intrigue them. You have to add value to the conversation that is their news feed, not just noise.

2. Stay true to your brand –

Just because you might “let your hair down” a little on social media doesn’t mean you should post anything that isn’t aligned to your brand identity, mission and vision.

3. Mix and match –

There is no one size fits all for social media. Each platform has its unique purpose, strengths, weaknesses, audiences and best practices. Wrap your brand’s social media content around the platform, don’t try to force the platform to your content.

Social media should be content-centric, rather than deal-centric, for high engagement. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put ads and offers into your social media mix. When asked why they followed retail brands on social media, consumers said:

Why consumers follow brands on social media
  • 62% – To learn about sales
  • 60% – To keep up with new products
  • 29% – To show support for the retailer
  • 23% – Retailer shares funny/interesting info
  • 23% – Retailer has a positive reputation
  • 16% – Agree with retailer’s social, political positions
  • 16% – To send feedback to the retailer

Brick and mortar is dead; long live brick and mortar – What motivates consumers to buy in-store

The demise of retail may have been exaggerated. Like any other industry, retail isn’t dying; it’s evolving. Before you write off the idea of having a physical store, think about this: 6 out of 10 consumers shop in a physical store every week, and more than 1 in 10 do so daily. Only about 1 in 3 shop in-store only monthly or less frequently. Here’s why brick and mortar is still alive and well, when done right:

Why consumers prefer to shop in-store
  • 60% – Want to see / try on products before buying
  • 54% – Need something immediately
  • 49% – To avoid paying for shipping
  • 40% – Easier to browse
  • 38% – Convenient
  • 36% – In-store only deals
  • 24% – Prefer in-person service

By a large margin, what consumers say will motivate them to shop in-store with a retailer is the shopping experience. This means you can’t afford to neglect the visual appeal of your brick and mortar. Younger shoppers especially say that cool product displays, murals and other visuals motivate them to want to shop and buy in-store.

  • 49% – Visually appealing – displays, murals
  • 29% – Availability of additional / ancillary services
  • 23% – Events – performances, classes
  • 16% – Tech – iPads, augmented reality

We’re going to talk about device preferences next; however, the number of shoppers who are using brand apps while shopping in-store continues to rise, often to find deals and coupons. 57 percent of consumers used a retailer’s app in-store:

  • 65% – to redeem coupons
  • 57% – to find coupons
  • 46% – to look for sales and deals

Including beacons and/or a map that enables shoppers to use mobile devices to find the products they are looking for, as well as to explore other deals and sale items you have in-store could increase average sale-per-visit. Likewise, offering in-store only coupons can help drive traffic to your store from customers who might have shopped online otherwise.

In addition to looking for sales and deals, shoppers who are using mobile devices in-store are often comparison shopping to make sure that your deal is the best deal. Make sure that you are featuring reviews and ratings on your app in order to help persuade shoppers to buy from you, even if they might be able to save money on a comparable item from a competitor.

Demand by device – Why a mobile-only approach doesn’t work

Only among Millennials does a mobile device trump desktop for making online purchases. The youngest consumers – Centennials aged 23 and under – prefer online shopping via desktop over smartphone by 51 to 43 percent. Overall, 54 percent of survey respondents said they preferred to make online purchases using a desktop vs. 33 percent who prefer to use a smartphone. Fewer than 1 in 10 indicated a tablet as their preferred online shopping device. When asked why they preferred to use a desktop device, consumers said:

Consumers online shopping device preferences
  • 49% – it’s faster
  • 49% – easier to comparison shop
  • 36% – believe it’s more secure
  • 34% – more information is available
  • 31% – mobile sites are hard to read
  • 30% – financial information is saved to and/or available from desktop