Social computing technologies are an increasingly vital part of consumers’ lives. Industry analyst Forrester Research reports that use of social networking sites grew a whopping 90 percent from 2006 to 2007; in the same time period, blog consumption grew by 83 percent and the number of consumers relying on RSS feeds to distill content jumped fully 300 percent. Consumers are talking to each other.
Whether they start their shopping well before Thanksgiving or mere minutes before Santa climbs into his sleigh, holiday shoppers expect a broad choice of products, easy shopping, good prices and rapid, on-time delivery. These are some high hopes, but with carefully crafted marketing and merchandising, you can keep customers happy and sales high throughout your holiday and post-holiday seasons. Gift giving is, of course, the overriding driver of holiday sales. In its October 2006 report, U.S. eCommerce: Five-Year Forecast and Data Overview, Forrester Research found that half of all online buying is for others, and this percentage increases greatly during November and December. Research
Go Retail to Web E-commerce application platform and services provider MarketLive has introduced FastTrack, an e-commerce solution designed to help retailers launch a fully optimized B-to-C e-commerce site in three months or less. FastTrack includes more than 200 e-commerce features bundled with MarketLive’s MarketLive 5 e-commerce platform, as well as intelligent imaging with dynamic image generation and zoom, free Google analytics, and search engine optimization. The solution also includes a rich display catalog that gives e-tailers a range of options for their online storefront. Real-time site management tools allow nontechnical staff to edit page displays, products, image, promotions, editorial content and merchandising information. Web:
When it comes to shopping online, fun is as important as functional, with consumers desiring streamlined processes that offer interactive features. “Instead of just delivering information [successful e-tailers] are delivering an experience,” says Joe Chung, CEO of Cambridge, Mass.-based e-commerce application provider Allurent. With all the flashy, albeit annoying, pop-ups vying for e-consumers’ attention, smart companies are focusing instead on using rich media and rich Internet applications (RIAs) to engage potential customers, increase clickthroughs and ROI, and reduce shopping cart abandonment. Marketers are using merchandising suites for product location, color change and product detail, configuration and catalog browsing. While not all RIAs or rich
Most Web analytics programs churn out a mountain of data—some of it relevant and much of it not. The challenge marketers face is how to sift through that mountain to uncover the nuggets of information that will help guide e-commerce design and decisions, and ultimately drive profits. When Forrester Research recently polled members of its Web Analytics Peer Research Panel, 53 percent responded that taking action on analytics findings was the most significant nontechnical hurdle they faced. At the same time, Forrester says analytics was the top spending category for research professionals in 2006. That’s because there is a proven business case for investing
Can’t tell an RIA from an MRI? E-commerce expert Ken Burke, founder/CEO of MarketLive, discusses and demonstrates the leading rich media formats and rich Internet applications marketers are employing to convert browsers into buyers.
The idea that word of mouth helps sell products and services isn’t new. Asking a neighbor, friend or colleague how they like their new car or new wireless service provider is standard party or office cooler conversation. But as the online environment enters a new phase of maturity in the consumer’s life (some call it Web 2.0 or even 3.0), marketers have learned that they can leverage this social connectivity to enhance their audience’s experience, glean consumer feedback and even boost sales. Although customer reviews and comments have been appearing on some Web sites for as long as eight years, consumer-generated content still is
Online video is riding a wave of popularity. Industry researcher Forrester Research reports that 34 percent of all Internet users view video online at least monthly, and 53 percent have seen a video online at least once. The content of those videos ranges from movie previews to amateur productions to video-phone captures uploaded to video-sharing Web site YouTube, whose $1.65 billion acquisition by Google grabbed headlines last year—and put a hefty dollar value on the online video phenomenon. There’s no doubt that online video is cool. But for merchants who need to focus resources on maximizing conversions and loyalty, the hype factor alone isn’t enough
E-mail is one of the most cost-effective ways to reach customers with relevant offers. But the prospect of delving into your e-mail list can be daunting; which demographics will deliver, and what offers will entice? In a study conducted by e-mail marketing firm DoubleClick, more than a third of consumers said they’d clicked on a message link immediately and made a purchase in the same session, while 78 percent of participants reported making an eventual purchase after receiving an e-mail offer. With such a high response rate, e-mail trounces paid search campaigns and affiliate programs when it comes to return on investment. A recent
’Tis the season to be shopping … is your Web site ready for the fourth quarter holiday rush? In its recent whitepaper, Holiday Sales Tune-up, e-commerce retail technology firm MarketLive reports that the winter season typically represents 20 percent of retail sales. This presents a great opportunity for Web merchants who pay close attention to their customers’ needs because, as MarketLive points out, “When you help holiday shoppers save time and find the right gifts, you’ll strengthen a relationship that will pay off well past New Year’s Day.” What’s more, the report suggests big-budget Web site overhauls are unnecessary to give customers a positive