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Evaluating E-Tailer Holiday Strategy

Will search and e-mail bring success?

December 1, 2009

The recession has forced retailers to get back to basics, and that includes marketing efforts. They are resorting to tried-and-true tactics such as paid search and e-mail marketing, as well as making sure they are where consumers like to shop. But to achieve sales objectives, retailers must also successfully execute on those strategies.

BDO Seidman, in its “Retail Compass Survey,” found that e-mail promotions were at the top of retailers’ online marketing strategies. A focus on free shipping offers just edged out search marketing for second place.

Online Strategies that CMOs at Leading US Retailers Plan to Focus on This Holiday Season, October 2009 (% of respondents)

Shop.org found that 100% of online retailers surveyed planned e-mail marketing efforts to house lists this holiday season, and nearly 97% would do paid and organic search marketing activities. Social media usage was increasing at a higher rate, but from a smaller base.

Change* in Use of Select Marketing Tactics This Holiday Season According to US Online Retailers, September-October 2009 (% of respondents)

But by some measures these efforts are not necessarily as successful as they could be.

Web content management system provider CrownPeak conducted a study in late October to determine the effectiveness of holiday-related search advertisements. The company found a general disconnect between ads clicked and their landing pages. Two-thirds of advertisers did not have a specific landing page relevant to the search keywords they had purchased, misdirecting searchers to homepages, generic categories or search results for canned phrases. Even one-half of product-specific search ads did not link to the product advertised.

Kevin Ertell, vice president, retail strategy of ForeSee Results, warned eMarketer about such problems.

“Less and less people go to the homepages,” Mr. Ertell explained in an interview. “They’re going deeper into the site, because they started their shopping experience at Google and not at JCPenney or Sears. They’re letting Google lead them to what they’re looking for.”

That means retailers should design those landing pages with appropriate, campaign-related copy—and make sure important marketing messages appear on every page of an e-commerce site, not just the homepage.

Keep up on the latest digital trends. Learn more about an eMarketer Total Access subscription, today.

Check out today’s other article, “Steady Growth Ensures Positive Outlook for UK's Online Marketers.”

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