More than 60% of retailers said in a recent survey that acquiring new customers is the most important challenge they are facing this year heading into 2018, according to the report from Worldwide Business Research, IgnitionOne, and eTail.
About 78% of those surveyed indicated that they manage cross-channel advertising in-house, rather than using an agency or another type of outside service provider. Meanwhile, 85% said they use e-mail lists as the data source for their promotional campaigns.
At the same time, 32% of survey respondents said they take a holistic, multichannel approach to measuring cross-channel advertising, while the remaining 68% of retailers continue to approach marketing on a limited or channel-by-channel basis.
Go figure: In an era dubbed the "retail apocalypse," retailers are scrambling across all channels to acquire new customers. While that may not be surprising, slightly more so is the notion that retailers are managing a lot of the advertising efforts themselves, although many of them are not measuring the effectiveness of those efforts holistically. Rather than measuring their effectiveness across all channels, some retailers are doing it piecemeal — one channel at a time.
It is interesting to note that retailers view new customer acquisition as their top imminent challenge, since other studies have suggested that returning customers are where the real money is, as they tend to spend more than new customers. It's true that if you play your cards right, new customers will return, but that's not always the case.
Indeed, the report seems to show that retailers are not that focused on retaining customers. Although retailers said customer retention was an overall priority, only 20% of retailers surveyed indicated that "selling more to existing customers" was their "most important" marketing challenge for this year and next. That's surprising given that those returning customers give retailers an opportunity to create long-lasting bonds using data-driven techniques like personalization.
In any case, customer acquisition efforts may only be as valuable as your ability to measure their effectiveness. The survey found that 68% of retailers continue to approach marketing on a limited or channel-by-channel basis. Instead of using multi-touch attribution to get a more holistic view of the customer's path to purchase, 27% of retailers use last-click attribution to measure cross-channel advertising, and 22% say they enhance and optimize each of their channels individually. That makes it hard to see if multi-channel marketing efforts are doing what you hope — reaching across multiple channels, following customers as they switch channels, and leading them closer to making a purchase via whatever channel they choose.