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Survey: Paid search marketing is tops online customer acquisition tactic


Los Angeles -- Paid search programs are the most popular online customer acquisition tactic. According to the 2014 Research Inc. State of Retailing Online study, which surveyed 81 retailers in May and June 2014, 85% of retailers cite search engine marketing as one of the most effective customer acquisition tactics.

In fact, retailers spend more of their interactive marketing budgets on paid search programs than on any other tactic, and four-out-of five retailers surveyed are also spending more on pay-for-performance search placement this year than in 2013.

To acquire new customers, retailers also cited organic traffic (41%), affiliate programs (40%) and remarketing/retargeting of shoppers in online ads (29%) as effective vehicles — all of which they’re also investing in more this year than in 2013. Display ads are seeing something of a resurgence: specifically remarketing, retargeting, and behavioral targeting ranked among retailers’ leading customer acquisition tactics, and display ads now collectively rank as the second highest area of marketing spend behind paid search.

Social media is also getting increased attention from retailers. According to the survey, 62% of retailers surveyed plan to spend more on Facebook interactive marketing efforts this year than in 2013. Furthermore, nearly half of retailers surveyed say they will dedicate more spend to social sites such as Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and Twitter in the coming year.

The survey also found that on average, 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%.

“While much of the ground work has been laid for perfecting paid search and how well it works for retailers’ customer acquisition goals, the fact of the matter is that retailers still have plenty of opportunities to learn more about their customers’ needs,” said executive director of Vicki Cantrell. “As customer touch-points expand, retailers continue to investigate other ways to diversify their marketing spend, including budgeting for increased spend for text advertisements, display ads, social, and attribution models.”

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