The Holiday Season is Here Already – Are You Ready for it?

Category: Marketing Dilemmas

It’s August and the eTail East 2010 Conference is right around the corner. Joining other senior marketing executives at eTail, we at NetElixir are in full gear preparing for the roundtable discussion of Holiday Preparedness for 2010 Protecting Every Dollar and Maximizing Internet Retail Sales.

Holiday Preparedness is such a critical concept for retailers. Whether you have brick-and-mortar stores or just online web stores, preparing your store(s) for the holidays mean you have to start planning now.

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Character Study: Brand Mascots in Social Media

Category: Marketing Dilemmas

Geoffrey the Giraffe.  The Green Giant.  The Nestle Bunny.  The Energizer Bunny.  Wendy.  The Rice Krispie Elves.  Chester the Cheetah.  The Travelocity Gnome.  The Pillsbury Doughboy.  And my creepy friend, The Burger King.  Brand mascots endear us to a product.  They create a connection by becoming the face of the brand.  So how do they play into today’s marketing strategies?  If we once again look to social media as a way to create a community around a brand or product, using a brand mascot can certainly bolster this effort.  We are more likely to pay attention to a brand when it has a character to follow on Twitter and “friend” on Facebook.  Some companies have the advantage of having a character already built into the legacy of their brand.  But only some brands are taking advantage of this.  Many companies have already integrated social media into their marketing but who is doing it through their brand’s mascot? Let’s take a look at a few examples.

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Propel Your Holiday Online Sales Through Practical Advertising Strategies

Category: Marketing Dilemmas
A few weeks back, we shared with you tips on planning your social media program around the holiday season.  So what about traditional paid search advertising?  The holiday season is all about making the most of opportunities and at the same time, maintaining a tight control on key performance metrics.  Make sure that you are paying attention to your campaign on a daily basis.  Changes in these metrics could yield sales…if you take advantage of what the numbers are saying. 5 Places Where You May Find An Opportunity
  1. Sudden spikes in product sales or spikes in purchase in certain geographies.  How can you capitalize?
  2. Sales Promotion results beat expectations – can you extend the promotion?
  3. A particular customer acquisition channel does exceptionally well.  How much additional budget can you shift?
  4. Competitive intensity drops for select categories – are you ready to take advantage?
  5. Twitter buzz about your brand spikes.  Do you know why?  How can you use this opportunity on other channels?
There are tactics you can take when planning your holiday paid search advertising campaign. Have a “Holiday Season Paid Search Advertising Execution Plan” in place.

Analyze the SEM campaign performances for previous years and use the learnings.

  • Click pattern versus conversion pattern.  (When did people search and when did they buy?)
  • What were the key online shopping dates and what percentage of holiday sales happened on these dates?
  • What were the most (and least) successful promotions?  How were these promoted?
  • Plot the daily “(Sales Revenue-PPC Cost)/Click” number between November 20th and December 20th and identify “profit zones.”
  • Did you track the competitor promotions during the holidays?  How can you use the learnings?

SEM advertising allows nimble marketers to reap huge benefits by utilizing “sudden opportunities”.

Finally, 3 Online Customer Acquisition KPI’s Every Retail Marketer Should Master

To learn how NetElixir can improve your social media and search marketing efforts, visit us here.

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Go Green: Brands Support Image through Social Media

Category: Marketing Dilemmas

The green movement has become somewhat of a marketing trend these days.  “Eco”, “organic”, “sustainable”, “all natural”, and of course “green” are all the advertising buzzwords.  Consumers now take into consideration how safe a product is.  Lip balms and face washes declare that they are free of chemicals.  Household cleaners like Method are marketed as safe to use on your baby’s highchair.  Water bottles declare that they are BPA free.  SunChips come in decomposable bags.  Clothing made from organic cotton has become more popular.  But because the green movement is such a powerful marketing trend, many companies are looking to align themselves by claiming that they are “organic” “eco-friendly” and “green” without actually backing it up.  So then how do companies successfully market themselves as a green company, through and through?  Social media is being used by many brands in highly successful ways to promote them as trustworthy companies.

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Tip Two for your Holiday SEM Campaign: How to Strategize your Keyword Bidding

Category: Marketing Dilemmas
It is widely known that consumers shop differently during the holiday season than they do during the rest of the year. First, they visit online retail sites more often and for a longer period of time, they purchase more in terms of items sold as well as dollars spent, and they participate in online searches for certain types of items more than others. Since the holidays are when most retailers make a large portion of their profits, it is essential they consider how to alter their SEM campaigns to cater to their consumers’ shopping habits. One of the most effective ways to reach online shoppers is to tailor keyword bidding to fit the time of the year as well as current bidding trends. During the holiday season, the Cost per Conversion (CPC) for categories like flowers, gifts, apparel, and consumer electronics jumps anywhere from 50-80%. This huge markup needs to be addressed so advertisers can use their ad spend as efficiently as possible. Below are 5 essential things to remember in keyword bidding:
  1. The bidding strategy should be product category-specific. Everyone knows it important to understand which categories are profitable to bid on, it is even more important to know the ones which not to bid on. Categories that cover a very broad range, are incredibly popular, or simply cost a lot of money will not benefit your campaign as much as other words or categories could.
  2. Day-parting tactics help in better utilization of advertising budget. Fine tune your campaign further by bidding various amounts on keywords during different hours of the day. Use historical data to find out which words have the best CPC at which hours.
  3. The days of “vanity bidding” (aiming for the top listing position at any cost) are over. Frivolous spending is a thing of the past, and retailers need to stay current with the times and state of the economy by streamlining their spend. Aim for the most efficient way to be within the top few spots.
  4. Value per click is the ultimate measure of bidding efficiency. Once again, it isn’t whether you achieve the top listing position or even get an incredibly high amount of traffic to your site that’s important- it’s whether or not consumers actually purchase a product.
  5. A conversion is an outcome of multiple clicks on (often) multiple keywords. It is too simplistic to attribute a conversion to the last keyword click, so make sure you are bidding on a variety of keywords in a certain category.

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Using Search Engine Marketing to Boost Holiday Sales

Category: Marketing Dilemmas
Since the upcoming holiday season will be a challenge for online retailers, it is vital they develop tactics to create effective marketing campaigns. In our previous article, we discussed how consumers will be using the internet to shop around to find the best deals on holiday gifts they can. One of the best ways to catch a consumer’s eye is through Search Engine Marketing. This time tested customer acquisition channel helps to establish a company’s online presence and drive traffic to its site. The traffic is highly qualified because those who click on links to these e-retailers’ sites are actively searching instead of simply clicking on a banner ad, and the conversion rates are also about six to seven times higher for those using SEM. Because of this conversion rate, SEM has the lowest cost per customer acquisition and allows users to compare acquisition costs across marketing mediums. Using SEM to prepare for the holiday season will be one of the most effective forms of marketing this year, notes CEO of NetElixir Udayan Bose. Pay-per-click or PPC ads can be targeted to audiences in a number of ways, including geographically. This is beneficial for companies selling products that can only be used in certain areas, like surfboards, and also for companies that know where most of their products are purchased. So far this year, online retail sales have been completely flat (comScore). Retailers need to do everything to turbo charge their marketing campaigns, and using SEM is one of the ways companies can achieve this. For 10 practical tips on how to run your paid search advertising campaign, download a copy of NetElixir’s “Fresh Ideas” workbook. With fill in the blank charts and performance indicators, the e-book is a great guide for companies seeking to lay the groundwork for their campaigns for the 2009 holidays. Check back here for our next article elaborating on the tip in the book about building an objectives-investment scorecard.

‘Tis the Season for Online Retailers to Gear up for the 2009 Holidays

Category: Marketing Dilemmas
Worrying about what beach to go to on the weekend or where the annual company picnic in the park will be are common thoughts on people’s mind during the summer months, but thinking about shopping for the holidays is not usually on the minds of many. For online retailers, however, now is the time to begin gearing up for the 2009 holiday season. With consumers’ attitudes more cost conscious this year, retailers need to understand exactly when the holiday shopping season takes place, be aware of the nature of the market, and learn how consumers think and what they are looking for.   Beginning in early October and lasting through the end of December, the holiday season accounts nearly 50% of the annual sales revenue for some retailers. Although many people believe Black Friday is the heaviest shopping day of the year, a day within the first week and a half of December actually has the highest sales for e-retailers. Last year it was the 10th, and sales were up 1% from the year before. Cyber Monday, the first Monday following Thanksgiving, is the second busiest day for online shopping, and last year profits on this day were up 15%, while profits on Black Friday, the third most critical day in online shopping, was up 1%.   Even though these specific days saw an increase in sales, last year’s total sales were down 3% from the year before according to comScore, indicating that this year in particular, retailers need to be especially aggressive if they want to stay afloat during the current economic recession. Consumers will not continue to be too shy of the online retailers, however, because they too are seeking to maintain financial stability. Finding deals not found in typical brick and mortar stores is the number one reason for online shopping. Price comparison websites are predicted to be particularly popular this year because they give the consumer the ability to “shop around” and maximize their purchasing power. Typically, most online purchases are made mid-week, but during the holidays, the highest spend takes place on Mondays. One speculation of this is that consumers carry their shopping habits over from the weekend because they are searching for products that may have been out of stock or not easily found.   Because customers will be spending less on holiday shopping this year than years before and will also be looking for the best deals, it is imperative that online retailers begin devising their plans to drive traffic to their sites. The competition for sales toward the end of 2009 will be fierce, and only by noticing the change in times and adapting their campaigns will retailers be able to come out on top.  
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