80% of consumers say they like it when brands’ e-mails recommend products based on their previous purchases.

Shoppers want retailers to target them with personalized marketing messages, particularly in e-mails, according to a new online survey by Harris Poll sponsored by digital marketing technology and services provider Listrak.

The survey of 2,042 U.S. consumers 18 and older finds:

  • 80% of consumers like when retailers’ e-mails recommend products based on their previous purchases.
  • 71% like when retailers e-mail them based on items they’ve viewed online but not purchased.
  • 69% like retargeting ads that show them an item they’ve recently viewed on a merchant’s site.
  • 67% like product recommendations on  retailers’ sites.

“These numbers are an incredible testament to the effectiveness of using purchase and browsing behavior data in predictive algorithms to present shoppers with timely, relevant products that they have the highest propensity to buy,” says Listrak CEO Ross Kramer.

Tailoring a marketing e-mail can help a retailer’s e-mail stand out from the flood of messages consumers receive in their inboxes, he says. 44% of those who open and read retailers’ promotional e-mails say they receive five or more e-mails per week from retailers and 21% say they receive nine or more per week.

A number of shoppers say that’s too many e-mails; 21% of shoppers say they don’t want to receive more than five e-mails a week from a particular retailer.


But Kramer says that context is important to consider when marketers send consumers e-mails pointing to results from President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign, which heavily leveraged e-mail marketing. When the campaign increased the number of messages it sent, the number of donations increased. While the volume increase also led more consumers to unsubscribe from the e-mail list, the tradeoff was worth it, he says.

Subscribers’ willingness to receive more e-mails corresponds to the messages’ relevance to them, he adds. And 81% of shoppers say they want promotional e-mails to highlight items that are on sale. That’s more than double the percentage who say they want those messages to organize items by price (40%), showcase new products (39%) or highly rated items (38%).