Press Release: Survey Reveals 80% of Email Readers Find It Useful When Emails Feature Recommended Products Based on Past Purchases


January 8, 2015

Listrak, a single, integrated digital marketing platform providing email, personalization and retargeting specifically tailored for retailers, recently released the results of a new survey questioning Americans about their attitude towards email volume and personalization in email and on-site. Responses reveal that Americans who read promotional emails find it helpful when retailers send emails featuring products based on past purchases (80%) and online browsing behavior (71%); value online retargeting ads featuring products previously viewed on a retailer’s website (69%), and product recommendations on a retailer’s website while they’re shopping (67%).

The results are from a Listrak-sponsored survey conducted online by Harris Poll from December 2-4, 2014 of more than 2,000 U.S. men and women age 18+, 72% of whom open and read promotional emails from retailers.

In the survey, 44% of Americans who open and read promotional emails from retailers report that they receive five or more emails per week from their favorite retailers, with 21% reporting they receive 9 or more weekly.  

In contrast, when asked the maximum number of emails they find acceptable to receive weekly from a favorite retailer, only 21% respond five or more. 17% report that they don’t have a maximum number, and another 5% say they are unsure of the maximum number.

Listrak CEO Ross Kramer comments, “It’s not surprising that more than twice the number of shoppers in the survey say that they receive five or more emails per week from their ‘favorite retailer,’ than say that five or more weekly is the maximum that is acceptable. When asked how many emails they want to receive, subscribers tend to say fewer although their actions prove otherwise.” 

He continues, “This is not unlike what occurred in the now well-documented 2012 Obama email campaign. When the number of emails soliciting donations increased, while unsubscribes unsurprisingly rose, the number of donations received increased, as well. The important finding in our recent survey is that roughly the same number of shoppers [MMR1] who say between five and eight emails weekly is the maximum they find acceptable say they do not have a maximum or are unsure of how many are acceptable. We continue to see proven what shoppers in our 2014 Harris survey reported – subscribers’ willingness to receive more emails corresponds directly to how relevant and personalized the emails are.”

Personalization in its infancy meant using the subscriber’s name in the subject line or email copy, and 68% say they still like when retailers do this. The survey also reveals, however, that those who read promotional emails value more recent, data-driven, predictive personalization even more. These adults indicate they strongly or somewhat agree that they find the following useful:

– 80% – When a retailer sends emails featuring recommended products based on previous purchases

– 71% – When a retailer sends emails featuring recommended products based on what they have looked at online but not purchased

– 69% – When they see an online ad featuring images of products recently viewed on a retailer’s website 

In addition, 67% report that they find it useful when a retailer recommends products on the pages of its website.

“These numbers are an incredible testament to the effectiveness of using purchase and browse behavior data in predictive algorithms to present shoppers with timely, relevant products that they have the highest propensity to buy,” says Kramer. “Shoppers are on-the-go and often time-challenged, and the number and variety of products online can be daunting, so they truly value when a retailer shows its familiarity with their individual personal preferences, current interests and purchase history to present them with products they are mostly likely to be interested in and to want to purchase.”

He adds, “It also shows how accustom to and appreciative online shoppers are of personalization in general, including in email, on retail websites and in retargeting ads.”

So what are shoppers looking for in personalized recommendations? When asked which types of website or email product recommendations are of interest, 81% of those who read promotional emails reveal on sale items – more than twice that of other types of recommendations:  

Organized by price – 40%

New – 39%

Highest rated – 38%

Top sellers – 31%

Most “pinned” – 8%

Kramer comments, “Again, it’s not surprising that shoppers express that they are most interested in discounts. Clearly, sales and promotions are powerful sales tactics; however, it is not always in the best interest of retailers to lead with discounts – or feature them at all – for reasons ranging from margins to brand integrity. The survey results show that shoppers also highly value being presented with products within particular price points, new items and those that are most highly reviewed and purchased most by other shoppers.”

“Contextual relevance is key when featuring personalized product recommendations,” he continues. “Merchants must consider where shoppers are in their purchase journey when determining the personalized products to show, whether in different types of email campaigns or on different pages of a retail website, and should make it clear to the shopper why particular products are being presented, as well.”


This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Listrak from December 2-4, 2014 among 2,042 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Donna Fulmer at

About Listrak

Listrak is an omnichannel digital marketing solutions provider that works with retailers to drive revenue growth, profitability and increase the lifetime value of customers. Founded in 1999, the company’s solution suite boasts analytics technology that enhances campaign performance, shopping cart abandonment solutions that help recoup lost revenue, post purchase solutions to increase lifetime value, seamless integration across multiple platforms, as well as email, mobile, social and more. Listrak has more than a decade of digital marketing experience and works with leading U.S. online retailers, including Waterford, Swell, The Grommet and La-Z-Boy. For more information, visit

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