Market Overview

RSR and Bronto Software Survey Finds Online Marketing Indispensable to Retailers this Holiday Season


Recognizing the growing criticality of online marketing during the holidays, more than 20 percent of retailers in the U.S. are set to significantly increase their spending in either mobile, social or email marketing channels this year. In fact, over 20 percent are allocating more than half of this year's holiday marketing budget to one or more of those three channels. These are highlights from 179 respondents to a recent retail survey, the majority of which report annual revenues from $51-$999 million, conducted by Retail Systems Research (RSR) late this summer.

The report, “Loading the Sleigh: Marketers' Plans & Expectations for the Holiday Season,” was co-developed by Bronto Software (, the leading marketing platform for retailers, and is available for download at:

Holiday revenues, online marketing budgets increase
The overall outlook for holiday 2012 revenue is enthusiastic, with 68 percent of respondents expecting sales to increase from last year, and almost a quarter saying sales will increase by more than 50 percent. Moreover, with 43 percent of retailers reporting that they will either significantly (21%) or slightly (22%) increase their holiday online marketing budget from 2011, it shows just how important holiday marketing has become.

E-Commerce marketers invest in new technologies
While email, mobile and social channels are all priorities for retailers this year, email is the channel that most retailers still won't do without. A full 87 percent will put budget toward email marketing this year, and more than half of respondents expect the overall volume of emails they send this year to be up from 2011. As such, retail marketers have also invested in improving email's relevance and contribution to the business by spending on:

  • Subscriber acquisition (46%)
  • Automated/triggered messages (43%)
  • Personalization (36%)
  • Segmentation (21%)

Retailers have also made investments in other important e-commerce marketing initiatives over the past year, including:

  • New email service provider (50%)
  • Mobile applications (49%)
  • New e-commerce platform (46%)
  • Mobile website optimization (43%)

“Retailers clearly recognize the need to market online during the holidays, when they are under the most pressure to capture consumer wallet share,” said Joe Colopy, CEO of Bronto Software. “This study shows that these marketers have made important investments over the year so they are poised to accomplish their goals. And while email is a more established channel and has inherent technologic advantages for communicating with consumers, marketers are getting ready to use mobile and social to break out of the pack. We look forward to seeing some innovative approaches and how they work this holiday season.”

The survey also gathered information on retailers' communication plans, with as many as one-third intending to wait until after Black Friday weekend to begin their first promotions, and all planning to offer a variety of free shipping offers. Free shipping may also find its way into abandoned cart messages, with 43 percent of respondents saying they will add free shipping offers (when no offer had been made previously). And although 20 percent of respondents don't have plans to modify their abandoned cart messages during the holidays, 35 percent will offer the consumer a percent- or dollar-off promotion in these messages.

About the survey
The survey for “Loading the Sleigh: Marketers' Plans & Expectations for the Holiday Season” gauged retailers' plans prior to the holiday season by analyzing 179 responses from qualified online and multi-channel retailers surveyed during August and September 2012. A second part to the research, which will be conducted in January 2013, will examine how retailers actually marketed over the holidays and how it worked for them.

About Bronto Software
Bronto Software provides solutions for retailers and other commerce-focused companies to drive revenue through targeted email and cross-channel marketing. More than 1000 organizations worldwide, including Party City, Armani Exchange, Timex, Samsonite and Trek Bikes rely on Bronto's software and services to fuel customer engagement and sales. Bronto is a five-time finalist and two-time winner of the Stevie Award for Best Customer Service, was named a CODiE Award Finalist for Best Marketing Solution in 2011 and 2012 and is one of Inc. Magazine's fastest growing companies. Bronto is headquartered in Durham, NC with an office in London. For more information, visit

About Retail Systems Research
Retail Systems Research (RSR) is the only research company run by retailers for the retail industry. RSR provides insight into business and technology challenges facing the extended retail industry, and thought leadership and advice on navigating these challenges for specific companies and the industry at large.

RSR's services include benchmark reports covering the state of retailer technology adoption for topics ranging from merchandising and supply chain, store operations and workforce management, to customer-facing and multi-channel technologies. Custom research reports provide more in-depth views into topics of industry interest, and advisory services help retailers and technology vendors make the most of the insights RSR provides. To learn more about RSR, visit

Emanate PR for Bronto Software
Tom Francoeur, 781-404-2405

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