Google Shopping Update

Where online retailers should allocate their marketing budget. Spoiler: still search

In order to compete successfully online, one needs to know how to get the attention of their target audience. In a recently released report, research group Forrester and Shop.org reported on the overall state of online retail and how retailers are spending their marketing dollars. The online market is (obviously) huge with E-commerce sales predicted to reach almost $260 billion by the end of 2013, and continued growth beyond that. However, the e-commerce “arena” is not simply one giant room one can announce their products into – it is an extremely fragmented area and online retailers face a constant struggle in reaching their relevant audience.

In their survey, Forrester checked how online retailers are allocating their marketing budgets to reach their audience effectively. Paid search is the single largest area of budget allocation for web marketing for online retailers. (Recent changes to Google’s search algorithm have made their organic search results more difficult and time consuming to rely on.) Survey respondent noted that search engine optimization was their strongest customer acquisition tool. Additionally, with Google’s shopping feed now comprised entirely of ads, retailers are budgeting more to appear in that channel as well.

Consumers are increasingly reachable via their mobile devices and retailers are adapting their paid search and email strategies to conform to this shift. The Forrester survey does note that retailers have been resistant to reaching our through certain mobile channels. QR codes, in-store mobile targeting and location-based programs, mobile coupons, and bar codes are all areas that retailers are not actively pursuing (for the most part). Technologies in these areas are still emerging, and retailers have not been successful to date with their efforts in these areas.

Forrester’s survey indicated that more than 40% of all emails sent by retailers are opened on a mobile device. A majority of retailer indicated that they have updated their email strategies accordingly and are optimizing their emails for mobile devices. Social media is still viewed as a core component for retailers although there is more of an emphasis on “brand stories” than using it as a source of direct sales. Over 50% of all surveyed retailers are planning to spend more in Facebook initiatives in the coming year than the previous. (Facebook initiatives are often used as a means of promoting a “brand story” or connecting to a larger audience rather than a direct sales channel.)

Connecting the dots

Searching plays a huge and vital component in most online retailers’ ability to attract customers. Whether through paid search results and/or effective search engine optimization, these are core areas that demand your attention if you intend to be successful online.  Ensuring that marketing emails are optimized for mobile will likely become even more important as mobile usage, especially for e-commerce usage is expected to continue to expand.

Reaching your target audience is only half the battle – you also need to ensure that what your target audience is seeing will entice them to come to your site and purchase. You need to have accurate real time data about your target market in terms of pricing and product data and be able to respond dynamically to sudden shifts and trends in your market. Repricing solutions are an ideal solution. Providing real time pricing data, and offering the ability to reprice automatically based on triggers you can set and customize. Such platforms provide the tools your online store needs to ensure that your hard earned online visibility is showing information and pricing that is relevant to your target audience.

Arie Shpanya

Arie is the former COO, Executive Chairman, and Co-Founder of Wiser, a dynamic pricing and merchandising engine for online retailers and brands. He has extensive experience in business development with a focus on eCommerce (eBay and Amazon), and is a guest blogger on Econsultancy, VentureBeat, and more.

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