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Study: Mobile, Amazon, voice search tops for driving digital sales

As the universe of marketing options expands, retailers must reconsider where they are investing their digital marketing budgets.

Consumer online retail spending in the United States will grow by 55% in the next five years. To grab their piece of the proverbial pie, retailers need new digital marketing channels to influence customer spending, according to “Data Brief: Retailers’ Options for Digital Marketing Spending are Growing,” from Forrester Research.

While traditional channels, like Google search, remain dominant, their gradually eroding market share is giving way to new marketing options — and many are already influencing online shoppers’ purchase decisions. One of these influencers is mobile.

While approximately 2% of total retail occurred via smartphone commerce in 2017, mobile accounts for a 56% share of total digital ad spend. Meanwhile, it influences 32% (or $1.1 trillion) of total retail sales in the U.S., making it a significant opportunity to transform customer’s brand perception, according to the study.

Search is also changing the game when it comes to influencing online sales. While Google has long been closely bound to search advertising, the tide is beginning to shift — and Amazon is leading the charge. The online giant is putting more stake into its own search advertising business, and roughly one-third of today's U.S. online retail spending is done with Amazon. This positioning gives Amazon an edge over Google in e-commerce searches.

Marketing opportunities are also evolving from emerging technologies, such as voice. Specifically, smart speakers are driving a renewed interest in voice. The U.S. installed base of smart speakers is expected to grow from 21 million in 2017 to 166 million in 2022, giving retailers another touchpoint to influence their customers, data revealed.

Voice offers opportunities for marketers to reach consumers in their moment of need early in their purchase journey, even if the final transaction happens elsewhere. Voice search marketing initiatives are also expected to grow, albeit at a gradual pace.

Consumers still need to demonstrate a willingness to use voice for the type of activities that would allow for the insertion of marketing content. While many smart speaker users are currently interested in using their device for activities, like researching and ordering products, relatively few currently use their device for such purposes, the study revealed.

For example, 8% of users rely on smart speakers to research merchandise, while 54% are interested in using it for this task. Meanwhile, 12% currently use devices to order merchandise, while 48% are interested in giving this functionality a try, according to data.

In the long-term however, the gap between usage and interest has the potential to narrow. And as voice technology capabilities improve, they will better handle more complex tasks, the report added.
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