Tag Archives: SEM

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.”

http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/retail/2009-11-16-holiday-shoppers-cards_N.htm2009 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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Hitwise.com – Is a 10mm Sample Size Enough?

Hitwise Announces New Features - Hitwise.com

Today Hitwise, a subsidiary of Experian, announced that they were making big change in their tool by offering the ability to differentiate between paid and natural terms that create traffic.  I am very excited about this change as I have been asking for this since I became a client about a year and a half ago.  For those of you who don’t know Hitwise as intimately as I do, let me share. 

Hitwise is a competitive intelligence tool that boasts a sample size of 10mm searchers.  Now, I know that sounds like a big number, but if you sell to a niche like most, that equals about 15 people a day for you entire industry.  By looking at the sample size from a statistical perspective, most industries (not including porn,  internet searches, and music downloads) are not getting a large enough sample size to warrant a P factor acceptable to justify using the data in key decision making.  Especially considering that a yearly Hitwise subscription is actually higher than the average annual salary here in SC.  If the data is not statistically relevant, then it’s just a market-share checker…an expensive market share checker.

 I can tell you that their customer service is great and that their analyst’s blog is very fun.  In the same way ‘Freakenomics’ looks at economics, they look at web analytics.  The blog reports that the tool can predict the American Idol winner and the winners of Australia’s recent federal elections…too bad it doesn’t always offer data that results in clients making money.

* Hitwise.com Update – Jan. 11, 2008 – I had a call with one of the reps from Hitwise.com yesterday and she showed me the new features and some of the features that I have not been using in Hitwise.  In the next couple days I will post another review of Hitwise considering some of the vast improvements they have made and some of the features I have never explored.

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Another Well Intentioned Blogger Dies….NAY I SAY! Just Busy.


Like many of you, when a new blog goes un-updated for a couple weeks, I assume it has died and the owner has moved on to new hobbies and tasks.  Not this one.  If you don’t know by now, I am an in-house SEM / SEO.  I also have a team of people who work with PPC, affiliate marketing, and comparison shopping engines.  I also offer SEO / SEM/ Internet Marketing consulting.  Needless to say, I stay busy.

At my full-time job we just went through season change where all of our products are removed and completely new products replace them.  This “season changeover” as we call it, can really create a challenge for the SEO side of my work.  Most SEO experts are quick to say that SEO is not a one time act.  In the case of my company, it’s at-least a twice a year act.  Normally just as we get things where we want them, the season draws to an end and it is time to start working on next season’s content.  For some reason, my company likes to mingle this change over with the Thanksgiving holiday which means the stress of work and eccentric family get-togethers collide in a spectacular display of dysfunction and exhaustion.  We normally prevail year after year, but somethings get neglected such as this blog…..sleeping, eating, feeding pets, cutting grass, being social, caring about anything…the list goes on.  Also, I have been putting together a proposal for a new SEO client.  Did I mention I consult? SEO, PPC, SEM, affiliate…..?

All of that has been to say, I have been busy.  Soon I will return to discussing / ranting about the internet marketing world and all things related…and unrelated.

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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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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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