Linking Clicks to Bricks: Understanding the Effects of Email Advertising on Omnichannel Sales

41 Pages Posted: 9 May 2018 Last revised: 27 Dec 2021

See all articles by Mi Zhou

Mi Zhou

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Sauder School of Business

Vibhanshu Abhishek

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management

Edward Kennedy

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Statistics

Kannan Srinivasan

Carnegie Mellon University - David A. Tepper School of Business

Ritwik Sinha

Adobe Systems, Inc.

Abstract

Businesses have widely used email ads to directly send promotional information to consumers. While email ads serve as a convenient tool that allows firms to target consumers online, there is little evidence on their omnichannel impact on consumers’ spending in both online and brick-and-mortar stores. In our study, we exploit a unique high-dimensional dataset from one of the largest office supplies retailers in the world to link each consumer’s online behaviors to item-level purchase records in physical stores. We use a doubly robust estimator that incorporates nonparametric machine learning methods and allows us to perform causal estimation on observational data. Our results show that email ads can significantly increase the retailer’s sales across different channels. Additionally, we find heterogeneity in the effect of email ads on different types of products (i.e., search versus experience goods), and this effect varies by channel (i.e., online versus offline). We also find that the increased sales across channels arise due to increased purchase probability and a wider variety of products being purchased by the consumer. This effect also varies by product type and channel. Further, we use a data-driven approach to demonstrate that the effect of email ads is heterogeneous across different consumer segments.

Overall, our results provide the first empirical evidence for the economic impact of email ads on consumers’ purchase across different channels and the underlying mechanisms thereof. Our findings have direct implications for omnichannel retailers to improve their digital marketing strategy design and for policy makers who are interested in evaluating the economic impact of prevalent email advertising.

Keywords: email advertising, omnichannel retail, doubly robust estimator, machine learning, causal inference

Suggested Citation

Zhou, Mi and Abhishek, Vibhanshu and Kennedy, Edward and Srinivasan, Kannan and Sinha, Ritwik, Linking Clicks to Bricks: Understanding the Effects of Email Advertising on Omnichannel Sales. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3168028 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3168028

Mi Zhou (Contact Author)

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Sauder School of Business ( email )

2053 Main Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/view/mizhou

Vibhanshu Abhishek

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

Edward Kennedy

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Statistics ( email )

Baker Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.ehkennedy.com/

Kannan Srinivasan

Carnegie Mellon University - David A. Tepper School of Business ( email )

5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

Ritwik Sinha

Adobe Systems, Inc. ( email )

345 Park Avenue
San Jose, CA 95110-2704
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
16
Abstract Views
1,676
PlumX Metrics