Search marketing tops customer acquisition tactics for retailers – study 

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Paid search is still considered to be the most effective customer acquisition tactic, according to the 2014 State of Retailing Online study, released by Shop.org and Forrester Research in the US this week.

A survey of 81 retailers during May and June 2014, showed search engine marketing is considered top by 85% of them, and they’re accordingly spending more of their interactive marketing budgets on it than on anything else.

Also on the list for acquiring customers were organic traffic (41%), affiliate programs (40%) and remarketing/retargeting through online ads (29%). The latter, alongside behavioural targeting, sees display ads now ranked as the second highest area of marketing spend behind paid search.

Meanwhile, social media is also getting increased attention from retailers. Over half of those surveyed said they are dedicating more spend to the likes of Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and Twitter in the coming year, while 62% plan to spend more on Facebook interactive marketing efforts this year than last.

“Thanks to the effectiveness and renewed budget focus on display advertising, Facebook cannot be counted out from a retail advertising standpoint,” said Forrester VP and principal analyst, Sucharita Mulpuru. “People think of Facebook as a social network, but in reality it’s another medium for personalised display advertising – likely explaining why Facebook has surfaced so high in planned budget spend this year.”

The study also found that 42% of retailers’ email opens now happen on smartphones, up from 28% in 2013, while email open rates on tablets grew from 16% to 17%.