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Revenue Opportunities Marketers Can't Afford to Miss

(Posted on Mar 24, 2014 at 01:18PM )

As competition intensifies, coming in all new shapes and sizes, global e-commerce organizations face challenges in differentiating their offerings with key audiences. To succeed, marketers cannot afford to miss opportunities to improve the effectiveness, reach, and return of their marketing and sales programs.  Yet, a recent survey we conducted with 160 global retailers found the majority are missing out on significant opportunities to use tools that already exist in their arsenal to improve theROI of marketing campaigns.

According to the survey, online retailers are prioritizing their e-commerce platform, site search, and SEO, as well as mobile and customer-focused analytics. Still, nearly 60% admitted to not using site search reports and information to enhance marketing programs, and only 25% say they integrate site search data into email marketing campaigns to better customize offers for customers—implying there is still a great deal of value organizations can pursue, from integrating site search information to integrating their marketing campaigns.

Interestingly, half of the survey respondents said they are not doing more with site search to enhance marketing and sales programs due to limited resources, while nearly 30% say they just aren't sure how to do it and 10% note that their existing site search solution does not allow for integration with marketing programs.

Savvy online retailers reap rich benefits from site search

Every retailer knows site search is a must-have element of any online business—yet it's clear they're not taking full advantage of the rich benefits site search can provide to marketing and sales strategies.  With the right approach, online retail marketers can glean valuable insights into visitor habits and buying behavior to help them deliver a richer user experience—which, in turn, can encourage a purchase.

Take, for example, gourmet candy maker Jelly Belly, which uses site search data to ensure that the appropriate top-searched keywords are incorporated into press releases, advertising, and marketing materials. Jelly Belly also uses site search merchandising capabilities to tune results and create landing pages for customized product groupings.

For a previous Cinco de Mayo promotion, Jelly Belly grouped various beans together to create “recipes” for tres leches cake and Mexican hot chocolate. The company then used the URLs of those dedicated landing pages for display advertising, retargeting, and email campaigns. Jelly Belly also dropped a banner tool onto the page to tie the promotional assets from the email or banner ad to the landing page. The result was an 85% increase in open rates for direct mail campaigns.

Site search improves decision making

You don't have to be a master at harnessing a large amount of data in order to make the important information work for you. Data gleaned from site search can be incredibly helpful in the decision making process.

According to our poll, half of retailers currently use site search data and analytics to enhance their business offerings or processes, while 28% use site search data to make smarter decisions related to inventory selection, 26% use site search data to enhance customer service, and 18% use it to augment predictive analytics practices.

The majority of retailers say they have not implemented site search features such as auto-complete with graphics (55%), mouse-over pop-ups (59%), personalized search history (64%), refinements (43%), or a floating search bar (80%). Most merely rely on site search features they have already, such as auto-complete (62%) and refinements (43%) to do the job—a significant miss for these retailers.

The good news is, nearly half (47%) of retailers plan to change their ways, and will work to incorporate more features, functionality, and data gleaned from site search to enhance marketing programs throughout 2014. As they do, there will be more effective ways to propagate information to their consumers, suppliers, and alliance partners that will lead to better online shopping experiences, brand-building opportunities, and revenue generation.

Tim Callan is the CMO of SLI Systems.