2011 Goals for Online Retailers

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Yes, it’s late February. And yes, resolutions are supposed to be made in late December. But as anyone that works in retail knows, December is far too busy to give anyone time to think about resolutions and January isn’t much better.

But each year, sometime around the third week in January, something magical happens in retail: things slow down. We all get a chance to catch our breath, reflect on the successes of the holiday season, and figure out what fantastic things we are going to do in the coming year to impresses our bosses enough to give us a promotion.

To make this slightly easier, we compiled a quick list of five resolutions for 2011. Feel free to steal these and claim them for your own.

1.  Effectively Execute The Basics

The sad thing about this resolution is it seems to be on the list year after year, yet many retailers still miss the mark. From bad landing pages, to misused match types, to creative that includes misspellings, these are all easy fixes that when executed effectively reduce your marketing costs, improve performance and perhaps most importantly, make it easier for you to effectively test new features.

Yes the basics can be boring, (and it can also be a real shot to your pride when someone points out your keyword insert title is allowing your brand to be misspelled in your ads) but getting the fundamentals right must be step one.

2.  Integrate Search With Other Marketing Channels

As search has continued to mature over the past decade, we have slowly gone from being the annoying two year old kid that CMOs put at the little kids’ table to the somewhat attractive, budding high school quarterback that CMOs are now happy to show off as “the future superstar.” But if we aren’t careful, we could soon become the kid who had all the talent but just never quite put it all together.

Search does not happen in a vacuum and neither do any other marketing channels. Display is a great example of this. While the exact number varies from study to study, some studies show up to 30% of people search for the brand immediately after seeing a display ad.

The better each of us becomes at evaluating the impact other channels have on search and vice versa, the more valuable search becomes as a marketing channel and the better the chance we have of living up to our potential.

3.  Hold Search Engines Accountable

2010 brought about the joining of Bing and Yahoo, arguably one of the biggest changes in our industry in a long while. And with this change came great promise and potential (I believe a whole bunch of phrases along the lines of “Google killer” or the much more mundane “true Google challenger” were used more than once).

Yet for this merger to live up to its potential, and to keep Google from becoming complacent, we must continue to challenge the engines to improve. From the little things like Yahoo/Bing giving us a consistently working desktop tool, to challenging Google to stop simply telling us to “spend more on nonbrand” even if it isn’t a good idea for our businesses.

This may sound a little idealistic/optimistic, but ultimately it is up to each of us to hold the engines accountable to improve things so that each of our businesses can be more successful in the search marketplace.

4.  Embrace Mobile Search

The running joke around our office is that despite having the mobile industry swear this was going to be the year of mobile each of the past five years or so, 2011 really is the year for mobile, we promise.

Extending your search campaigns to mobile devices is not only one of the easier things to do, but it is also something that is driving more and more revenue for our clients. Due to little competition, CPCs are significantly lower than traditional search and consumers tend to spend more per purchase as well. In one case, we saw AOV (average order value)  increase by almost 50%,  to over $1,000 for one of our luxury clients.

While I am not sure I will ever spend $1,000 on a single purchase off my phone or PC for that matter, it is happening more and more often.  Mobile search is easier to do than you think it is. You can track it separately, you can target by device type and you don’t even have to have a mobile site in order to participate.

As if all that wasn’t enough, we haven’t even started to talk about the advantages of people searching on their mobile, then heading into the store to purchase. After years of hearing it, this truly will be the year of mobile.

5.  Don’t Let Perfect Be The Enemy of Good

While Voltaire coined that phrase, I think it is more applicable to search now than at any of time in search’s history (and yes I realize how ridiculous it is to apply a Voltaire quote to search marketing, but just go with it). As search has continued to mature, it has gained much more attention (both good and bad) and we have all become more sophisticated.

But with this attention and sophistication has also seemed to come an attitude of perfection as the only possible outcome for everything we do.  Each test must be meticulously planned then subsequently picked apart. Each idea dissected for weeks before any action can take place. Each variation in numbers analyzed, reanalyzed then analyzed some more.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting we don’t hold ourselves to a high standard nor am I suggesting we don’t get the details right, but far too often we tend to try to perfect things so much, that we miss the bigger opportunity. So while all of us should be challenging ourselves and our teams to get all the details right, we should also balance that with the challenge of moving everything forward as well.

Yes, we are two months (fashionably) late to talk about New Year’s resolutions, but if we can execute in each of these areas, the next 10 or so months should make 2011 more successful, more productive and more fun than 2010…and every prior year too.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Retail | Search & Retail

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About The Author: is a New York-based digital marketing and strategy consultant specializing in retail. He has worked with Nike, Neiman Marcus, Staples, Michael Kors and many others to develop fully integrated digital marketing strategies.Follow him @VicDrabicky on Twitter.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



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