Brands Face Acquisition Hurdles, Fewer Are Happy With Results

by Ray Schultz, MediaPost

Acquisition marketing results are slipping from their 2020 levels — even while retention has improved, judging by The Ascension To Digital Marketing: A Benchmark Report, a study by CommerceNext. 

Of the retailers polled, 57% say their acquisition marketing is meeting or exceeding their goals this year, down from 76% in 2020 and 65% in 2021. 

Among the greatest challenges are rising acquisition costs (61%), and finding and retaining top talent (46%), the latter rising from 31% in 2020. 

Digital-first brands are more likely to blame costs — 66% cite them as a challenge to achieving their 2022 ecommerce goals, vs. 54% of incumbent or traditional retailers. 

In contrast to acquisition, 66% overall say their retention/loyalty marketing is meeting goals — up from 56% in 2020 but down two percentage points from 2021.  

Of course, retention marketing presents its own problems:

  • Ensuring loyalty benefits are meaningful & relevant — 36%
  • Measuring impact of retention marketing on CLTV — 32%
  • Scaling segmentation — 31%
  • Re-engaging lapsed customers — 31%
  • Engaging customers across the customer journey — 28%
  • Customer data management — 26%
  • Consistently developing meaningful content — 24%
  • Managing an omnichannel approach — 18%
  • Availability of resources/team — 18%
  • Internal prioritization toward other marketing — 17%
  • Getting opt-in from customers — 13%
  • Justifying investments — 8%
  • Other — 3%

This is happening as 29% of retailers are spending 20%+ of their revenue on marketing — a 4% hike over last year, and closer to 2020 levels. 

One issue that seems closer to being solved is first-party data use. But serious challenges remain: 

  • Data management: unify visitor data, break down data silos  —65%( up from 54% in 2021)
  • Data access: allow different teams and applications to access the data — 28% (up from 28% in 2021)
  • Data use cases: figure out and prioritize which use cases will bring most value — 53% (up from 51% in 2021)
  • Data activation: execute and automate use cases that depend on first-party data — 48% (down from 51% in 2021)
  • Data collection: collect meaningful user data — 47% (down from 63% in 2021)

Email is the biggest source of first-party data, although SMS is catching up. 

Of the retailers polled, 48% invite customers to share more data or to opt in to receiving information, and another 35% offering these options and expanding their programs, with 5% planning to start. 

Overall, 96% of incumbent retailers offer email collection, vs. 80% of digital-first companies. 

But some firms are noticing email’s declining effectiveness as a channel, prompting them to move toward SMS solutions, the study claims.  

For instance, Firstleaf CMO Geoffrey Sanders says SMS is “more nimble, and possibly just as effective [as email] given certain messages are so time sensitive that it makes more sense for consumers to get quicker responses via text (e.g. ‘Your order is out for delivery’ or ‘last call’ notifications),” the study notes.  

After acquisition, finding and retaining top personnel is the biggest challenge. The biggest hurdles to recruiting talent are:

  • Finding individuals with the right hard skills — 75%
  • Salary expectations — 69%
  • Finding individuals who are the right cultural fit — 48%
  • Remote work/flexibility expectations — 33%
  • Benefits expectations — 10%

CommerceNext surveyed 114 respondents across retail and brand types and verticals, starting in February of this year. 

Article originally appeared on MediaPost.

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