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Survey: Retailers see digital messaging as crucial marketing tool

When it comes to digital messages, retailers are taking a “more the merrier” approach.

According to a new survey of over 150 business-to-consumer marketers from customer marketing platform MessageGears, 91% of respondents said digital messages were extremely important relative to their organization's other marketing strategies, and 90% said digital messages were extremely important relative to the goals of their company overall.

Almost half (49%) of respondents said they sent at least 100 million digital messages in 2020, a 10% increase over 2019, and 58% said they plan to send at least 100 million messages in 2021. Despite these high existing rates of digital messaging, one-third of respondents said they would double their number of messages sent by the end of 2021, and 53% said their total would double by 2024. 

However, these aggressive growth plans may be at least partially explained by the fact 58% of respondents said that at least 60% of their organization's sales come from digital messaging efforts. Six in 10 (61%) respondents spent at least 20 hours per week on digital marketing strategy and execution in 2020, and 80% expect that number to increase in 2021. 

In addition, 45% of respondents said digital messages are being sent multiple times per day, and 66% said at least 10 million different people are receiving their organization's digital messages.

When asked to identify top digital marketing goals going forward, about two-third (65%) of respondents cited improving personalization, and 58% said consolidating customer data. Another 58% mentioned modernizing their digital messaging technology stack, and 51% said they would need better access to live customer data in order to make their digital messaging strategies successful in 2021.

In terms of challenges, a leading 36% of respondents said their biggest digital messaging challenge continues to be how best to communicate with customers given the pandemic. Along the same lines, 90% of respondents said they are somewhat or very concerned about consumer overload from digital messages right now, and 92% are somewhat or very concerned about consumer financial distress.

The survey also examined financial issues related to digital messaging. Slightly more than half (51%) of respondents said they spent at least $5 million on people and tools related to their organization's digital messaging programs in 2020, and 80% expect their messaging budgets to increase in 2021. Meanwhile, 47% said at least half of their organization's overall marketing budget is spent on digital messaging.

When it comes to payoff, 53% of respondents said that data access has to be a priority for all marketing teams going forward, and 51% said that personalization in messaging would be more important than ever.

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