Category Archives: Direct Marketing

Holiday Q4 2009 Challenges – Quick & Dirty Facts for Online Retailers

2009 Holiday Shopping Trends

1.) Customers are shopping later this year.

“Despite the talk of low inventory, many shoppers seem to be slow to head to the stores this holiday season. According to the survey, 52.4 percent of consumers have not yet begun their holiday shopping, and an additional 21.2 percent said they have completed less than one-tenth of their list.”

2.) It will be imperative to engage plugged in consumers.

“’Consumer behavior has changed, permanently,’ said Lisa Wehr, founder of Oneupweb, an online marketing firm that conducts holiday shopping research. ‘Budget-conscious shoppers are now looking online to conduct their shopping, and they’re searching for product information on social media networks.’”

3.) Free Shipping is a given this holiday season.

“Four out of five retailers told the retail group that they’ll offer free shipping with conditions, such as a total purchase minimum, during the holiday season. And more than half of retailers surveyed, 57 percent, said they’ll offer free shipping without imposing conditions on customers.”

4.) Home & Garden categories are down.

“Housing-related categories, such as furniture and home improvement, reported declines.”

“Furniture and home furnishing stores were down 0.8 percent seasonally adjusted for the month-to-month and down 7.6 year-over-year. Similar areas in decline included stores selling building material, garden equipment and supplies, which dipped 2.4 percent from September and dropped 16.6 percent from same period a year ago.”

5.) Consumers are much more patient and will wait for deals.

“’While last holiday season was filled with chaotic confusion, adjusting to uncertainty has now become routine for many Americans,’ said Tracy Mullin, president of National Federation of Retailers. ‘This holiday season will be a bit of a dance between retailers and shoppers, with each group feeling the other out to understand how things have changed and how they must adapt.’”

“Americans’ eagle-eye on bargain hunting is adjusting the priorities of many shoppers. According to the survey, more than half of holiday shoppers say that sales and price discounts (43.3%) or everyday low prices (12.7%) will be the most important factor when deciding where to shop. Factors like selection (21.0%), quality (11.8%), convenience (4.9%) and customer service (4.4%) declined from last year.”

6.) Nearly all retailers are planning to offer steeper discounts this year.

“Retailers last week gave muted holiday outlooks as they reported third-quarter earnings. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Kohl’s Corp. both said they plan to discount aggressively. J.C. Penney said it expects sales for the quarter that includes the holidays to fall.”

7.) Customers are more likely to opt to use cash for purchases instead of credit cards.

“A shift away from credit cards could make what is expected to be a difficult holiday season even more challenging for retailers. Store clerks have long found that it’s easier to persuade people who are using credit cards instead of cash to spend more than they were intending, says NRF spokeswoman Ellen Davis.” Online Shopping Trends for Retailers

“According to NRF’s 2009 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions survey, conducted by BIGresearch, one-fourth (24.9%) of holiday shoppers will pay for gifts this year with cash, a 9.1 percent increase from last year’s 22.8 percent. In addition, 42.5 percent of shoppers plan to pay primarily with debit or check cards, a 2.5 percent increase from last year. The number of shoppers who will rely on credit cards is expected to fall 10.1 percent, with 28.3 percent of people using credit this year compared to 31.5 percent a year ago.”

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Top Ten Retailer Thoughts This Holiday Season

10.  Profit margins are for wussies.

9.  Maybe nudity would increase sales?

8.  I heard those new ninja throwing shoes are selling well this year.

7.  Is it possible for us to sale anti-depressants?

6.  I wonder if I can use some of our merchandise returns as gifts this year.

5.  Can we get use our employee discount on anti-depressants?

4.  I bet it’s that damn Santa who’s stealing our market share.

3.  We should air a holiday television special that says the “True meaning of Christmas” is gifts.

2.  How can I convince consumers that our iPods are greener than our competitors’?

1.  Maybe we can stay competitive with everyone else’s discounts if we give everything away for free ?

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The Evolutionary Marketing Team

 I once thought my purpose at my office was to lead my team by being am exemplary intermet marketing guru.  I have now found that my only purpose is to teach my team how to be the gurus.  Not only that, my method of teaching has changed from very simple transfer of knowledge, skills and best practices into teaching them to think, research, self-improve and evolve in the same way I do.  I feel like the first guy to finally create A.I.  I can only hope they don’t take over the world.            

Lastly, my time spent managing marketers has talk me many things such as how important detailed -very detailed- instructions are and how helpful a spell check tool for Google Adcenter ad copy would be.

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DMA ’07 – “We met at the DMA’s…”


I learn alot at every conference I attend.  DMA ’07 was no different but……the last two weeks, post-DMA, at work has been filled with calls from agencies, database solutions, and package suppliers.  I don’t mind a sales call as long as the sales person doesn’t mind a blow off when I’m busy.  What totally does kill me is sales person who doesn’t do research.  Better yet, they don’t even look at the business card from which they got my name and number.  My card states my title clearly as “eCommerce Director” thus, asking me if we have a web site is quite silly.  As is, “Do you guys sell things on your site?”  My card also has a picture of our product as well as the product is in the name of the company, but I still get questions like,”So what do you guys sell?”

My advice to sales people is go to people’s sites before you call, read their about us page, research their industry (even 15 second on Google will help).  Otherwise, for the sales people that call me, you will be directed to this page for a little advice.

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Universal Search: How long will Universal Search last?

Google Universal Search

Direct marketing makes me look good to my bosses.  Traditional media marketing has made me look bad in the past.    Although, I am successful now, I still harbor contempt for traditional media marketers, their large budgets, and decreasing returns.  Just when I think that media marketers will surely die off, Google drops Universal Search into the equation. 

 I know that it has been on the horizon for a while, but I expected it to be temporary like the “One Box”.   I know, I know…..the One Box still exists, but not as prevalent as it was when it was first dropped.  Maybe that’s the case with Universal Search; the ridiculous front loaded relevancy on video and photos will soon taper off.  Actually, I know exactly when Google will begin to taper: It will happen when I finally get around to updating my robots.txt file to allow Google to index my video and images.  I also know when Google will completely  stop weighting video and image results…when I get my copywriter to append captions on all our video and image pages.

All that being said…it’s time to get all those robots files updated and to look for some help optimizing images and videos.  Also, maybe it’s time I go back to those traditional media marketers and get some advice on creating videos that sell, since the world is going to be seeing them now.

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Search Marketers Are Killing Search Marketing


Ready for a rant?…. 

Today I had lunch with Tom Alison, SVP of SendTec.  SendTec coined, or at-least currently owns, the term search-centric marketing.  He and I talked about the depths of paid search not yet explored and at some point in the conversation it hit us both that we may not get to explore the deep depths of truly analytical, modeled, paid search marketing if the majority of search marketing firms keep offering the same level of mediocre service as they do now.  No where is this more prevalent that lead generation search marketing.  Agencies are throwing tons of low quality leads at clients in order to increase ad spend.  As a result, the credibility of the industry is being threatened. 

 I know leads I produce are going to be highly qualified and will convert.  Unfortunately, those types of leads are not abundant.  I would rather let my client know that the leads I produce for them are not haphazard.  I want clients to know that leads from search are highly qualified, market-share stealing, new-to-file, repeat customer leads.  Not a white-paper sign up based off of a slightly relative term.  Some people call tactics like that long term, I call it ripping clients off! 

Marketing Firms: Play by the rules or quit playing. Do what’s right. 

Clients: Make sure you budget isn’t bigger than your brain!

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DMA ’07 – Hardcore Search Marketing Not Found

DMA 07

I went to my very first DMA event this past week in Chicago.  Chicago….Amazing!!  DMA 07 ….it was alright (or as they say in SC “it wuz ah-ight”.)  It was nice to learn how far ahead of the pack my company is with paid search marketing, but there was little in the area of advanced search marketing training for strong search companies and marketers. 

 That leads me to the idea that most pieces of marketing advice (white papers, prof. journal articles, webinars…) are so shallow with their explanation of good marketing that it makes me feel as if they are keeping the best and most cutting edge ideas secret.  I know the urge to protect the golden techniques you develope from being used by competitors, but I have decided to act against that urge in the future.  Yes, this is my pledge to share as much as I can about my industry, including my secret techniques.  If I don’t, someone will….and I want the credit for creating tomorrow’s best practices.

 As for the DMA’s, I offered to speak next year on paid search marketing on a survey I turned in at the end of a particuarly shallow session on SEO.  Hopefully they’ll ask me to speak so that I can share deep search marketing techniques, not to mention, DMA 08 is in Las Vegas. 

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