Online Re-Tales

One Man’s Multi-Channel Marketing Blog

Google Product Search & SEO

I am amazed at how quickly Google Product Search (formerly Froogle) has become a major factor in an online retailer’s SEO strategy recently.  Sometime in the past year (not sure exactly when it happened) Google started placing select product search listings ABOVE the organic results.  Once upon a time we were fighting for positions 1-10 (or page 1) of Google’s search results.  Now if you’re an online retailer, you have to also be concerned about being in positions 1-3 of Google product search.  I’m surprised the engine feed providers are not pushing their Google Product Search expertise more often.  I think Google’s comparison shopping engine is on the verge (if it has not already done so) of surpassing the other CSE’s (Nextag, Shopzilla, Shopping.com, etc.) in driving traffic.  And best of all, the traffic is free!

If you are a Google Product Search data expert, contact me today.  I want you to consult for me before you get too busy!

July 8, 2008 Posted by | Comparison Shopping | , | Leave a comment

Prospects for Lower Rates

Earlier today I caught a twitter post from Harry Joiner about a session at today’s National Catalog Advocacy & Strategy Forum.  According to Stephen M. Kearney, vice president of pricing and classification for the U.S. Postal Service a special prospecting rate for catalogers is a possibility.  According to the article “Attendees agreed that a reduced prospecting rate would stimulate catalog mailings and, in turn, increase volume for the USPS.”

First off, if the USPS would begin charging special reduced rates for catalogs, how would they audit it?

Would catalogers then broaden their definition of prospects to mail more catalogs at reduced rates?  At my company our definition of a prospect has always been very broad.  If we have rented a 3rd party name and they have never bought from us, they are a prospect.  If a name is on our housefile (in our database) but has never bought from us (a gift-recipient, a catalog requester, an online shopping cart abandoner, etc.) then they are a prospect.  If a “customer” is a 1-time buyer, they are a prospect (Others might call them a suspect, regardless you are not loyal until you’ve bought a second time).  If any customer has not bought from us in 5 years, they are reclassified a prospect.

I’ll be following this topic very closely.  I hope the USPS follows through.  As all catalogers are cutting circulation (to prospects & customers),  I hope Mr. Kearney wasn’t just telling a crowd full of catalogers (i.e., his customers) something they wanted to hear to maintain their loyalty.

June 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

A Follow-Up On Social Networks

In a follow-up to yesterday’s post about social networking, according to Multichannel Merchant Heather Dougherty, director of research at Hitwise tells us “social networks are no longer just an online playground for younger users.” The article then tells us how billion dollar companies like Sears, Zappos, Amazon, and Victoria’s Secret have built widgets and facebook apps.  What I’d like to see is a follow-up article in 6 months about the success of these widgets and apps.  Were they worth the investment?  I’ll let them take the plunge for me.  Does anybody else feel the same way? Are any other retailes having proven (not anecdotal) success with social networking sites?

Social Networking

June 12, 2008 Posted by | Social Media, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

What If Your Customers Aren’t “Social”?

I received an email the other day from King Arthur Flour asking me to fill out a brief survey in exchange for $5 off my next order of $40+.  (You can view the survey here.)  Interestingly, question # 5 asks their email subscribers to select which “social” sites they’ve visited in the past 3 months.  What happens if the overwhelming majority of their customers click none of the above?  (I have an interesting feeling that that may be the case, but I may be wrong).  Many marketing pundits say we need to set up myspace and facebook pages.  We need to be actively involved in social media.  But what happens if your customers aren’t using these services.  Does it make sense to even spend the internal time & resources to do so, especially if your customers are not there.  If your current customers aren’t there, then do you think your prospects are?

June 11, 2008 Posted by | Social Media | , | 2 Comments

Shopping Engine Providers & Conversion Testing

I’ve often wondered why the companies who provide comparison shopping engine (CSE) feed services for retailers don’t have usability/conversion teams or services they can offer to clients.  The shopping engine feed providers (Channel Advisor, Channel Intelligence, Mercent, et al.) spend all their marketing messaging on trying to tell clients that they can optimize their feeds, manage their bids, provide positive ROI, yadda yadda yadda. Wouldn’t it be in their best interests to get more intimately involved in helping clients convert the comparison shopping traffic they’ve just sent them?

If I were them, I’d find a product detail page guru ASAP.  Someone who understands that the product detail page (in regards to the shopping engine) IS the home page.  The job of the usability team is to get the customer to add the specific item into his/her cart or to get them to browse deeper into the site and buy related products.  (At a minimum, get them to sign up for promotional emails prior to exit.)   A customer who enters the site via a product detail page has a different mindset than the person who enters the product detail page via your internal search or navigation links–so test to see if they need to be treated differently.  I think they do.

Setting up usability teams that help retailers convert shopping engine traffic is a win/win for everybody!  If I convert more shopping engine traffic, I spend more money on shopping engines…and I spend more with the company who provides the feed services.

June 9, 2008 Posted by | Website Design | | Leave a comment

Site Speed and the Brand Experience

Larry Becker at Rimm-Kaufman Group has a great blog post over at the RKG Blog about site speed and web site effectiveness.  He sums it up to 4 simple words: your site speed matters.

So many online retailers, even Walmart.com have devoted a large part of the real estate on their home pages to the rotating flash images.  Do their customers really wait for the image to load so they can view the 3 or 4 messages the marketing department has drummed up?  Or, would it make more sense to go back to a simple, single-message .jpg.  You only have a second or two to get that point across before the customer clicks on your navigation links anyway.  You don’t see “flashy” images on some of the web’s top converting sites: Proflowers.com, Amazon.com, and ebay.com.

Some marketers like the flash imagery to extend the brand.  I like a fast loading page and better conversions!

June 3, 2008 Posted by | Website Design | | 1 Comment

What is it ComScore: Price Discounts or Free Shipping?

According to this article from Online Media Daily, ComScore: Economy Makes Pricing Prime Strategy, “To ride out the {economic} downturn, comScore’s top brass said that the free shipping deals, personalization offers and other perks that e-tailers typically use to entice shoppers should take a backseat to price-based promotions.”

According to this Internet Retailer article, Shoppers check out to see shipping fees, often leave because they`re high, “10% of those who abandoned purchased at larger merchants and 20% of those who left smaller retail sites pointed to lower shipping costs or free shipping” as a change that would have led them to complete the purchase.

So Online Media Daily says ComScore tells us to focus on price.  But InternetRetailer.com says ComsCore tells us people are most likely to abandon because of high shipping rates.

So what does a retailer do during a downturn ComScore?  Promote price discounts or free shipping?  You can’t tell us to do both.  The obvious direct marketing answer is to test which offer works best for your customers—and for you, the retailer.  You don’t need a ComScore to tell you that.

June 3, 2008 Posted by | Promotions | , , , | Leave a comment

Optimizing For Misspellings

I just got back from the ACCM show.  I don’t really need to recap since MineThatData and Catalog Chronicles did a fantastic job live blogging and post blogging about it for the past few days.

Prior to my SEM session on Monday AM, I got a chance to sit in on an SEO session titled ‘Organic Search Essentials.”  It was a little too introductory for me, but Matt Bailey of SiteLogic gave an excellent SEO 101 presentation for the attendees.  He simply, and thoroughly, discussed the basic tenets of successful Search Engine Optimization (Page Titles, Meta Tags, Meta Keywords, Link Building, etc.).

Misspelling

After the session was over I got to thinking…should sites be targeting misspellings of keywords?  We all know that any SEO consultant will tell you to target the words your customers are using (i.e., toothbrush instead of dental device).  But should we also be targeting the way they spell, or mispell for that matter?  If you intentionally target a single page for “Klipsh Speakers” instead of “Klipsch Speakers” you potentially stand to gain a lot of traffic.  The risk is knowing you are actively misspelling a brand name on your site, and putting it out there for all the Web to see.

I wonder what SEO consultants’ and brand marketers’ opinions are of this?

May 22, 2008 Posted by | SEO | | 2 Comments

Radio Silence

It’s been a while since I published my last post.  Work and family life has been all-consuming over the past few weeks.  I’m on my way down to the ACCM Conference (formerly known as the Catalog Conference) where I’ll be speaking on 3 panels, all about search engine marketing.  Thanks to Rimm-Kaufman Group for the invite.

Hoping to have some juicy tidbits on catalog/online marketing to wrap about when I return.  If you see me down in Orlando, be sure to say hello.  Here are two of the 3 sessions I’ll be appearing at.

May 16, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Ignoring Catalog Choice?

I had the opportunity to speak with the head of a large multi-channel brand a few months ago.  As we were discussing business, I asked him about Catalog Choice. I was curious about what they were doing with Catalog Choice’s list of thousand of customers opting out of their catalogs.

“We just ignore their calls,” he said.

Hmm.  Your customer opts out of receiving your catalogs through Catalog Choice and you ignore Catalog Choice’s calls.  Are you ignoring Catalog Choice?  Or, are you ignoring your customer’s wishes?

May 2, 2008 Posted by | Going Green | | 3 Comments

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