Lee Odden

ACCM – Top Three Search Marketing Opportunities for Merchants

The one session that I was able to blog at the ACCM show this week in Chicago was, “Top Three Search Marketing Opportunities for Merchants” which combined blogs and social media with paid inclusion and shopping search engines.

The session was moderated by Heather Lloyd-Martin, who opened up with: “There’s no secret sauce in search. But there are things that catalog marketers might no know about. There are things they can leverage.”

Heather asked the audience, “How many of you have B2B catalogs?” About a third of the audience raised their hands.

First up was Amanda Watlington of Searching for Profit.

The Consumer’s Dilema:

More products and more marketing channels have not resulted in greater customer satisfaction.

She relates a story of buying a digital camera. Not a good experience. Where to buy? Online, offline. Pickup or not? It’s the paradox of choice.

The consumers’ solution rests in the search box. The search box can provide more information in a comfortable way.

Search marketers mission:

– Manage the points of entry of consumer information via paid and organic search
– Support channel profitability via paid and organic search
– Monitor and manage the messages received from the multiude of sources via search engine reputation management, blogs and social networking tools

Lessons from Web 2.0
– Most Web 2.0 apps focus on customer self service
– Customers are getting their information not just from the center, but from the long tail
– Wisdom of crowds (tagging)
– Customer is changing consumption habits and patterns – turning to others, to peers for information

What’s a blog?
– Frequent updates
– Categorized content
– Simple administration
– Special interaction, linking, comments, trackbacks
– Low cost human face to faceless organizations
– Use rss for rapid syndication and distribution

Blogs are a part of a growing suite of social networking tools. Blogs, wikis, LinkedIn, Friendster and other social networking tools alllow like minded individuals to find each other. Amanda relates this to users of catalogs sharing information with each other.

How are consumers using these tools?
– Sharing interests, business and hobby info
– Products – swap reviews and uses
– Vendors can offer service and support experiences

Search is the link to these networks and influencers.

What’s a wiki?
– Websites with a special content management system
– Users can create and edit any page using a browser
– Supports links

Social Networking Tools
– Create customer/product communities with target groups
– Can replace focus groups
– Instant feedback on product and service changes
– Provide product and service users a way to participate in the company’s success

How can blogging and other tools benefit your search marketing?
– Create buzz – links, syndication
– can rapidly add content based on real-time events
– Increase traffic to main site via cross linking
– creates more search results with your message

Amanda shows examples of librarian blogs that review kids books. Publishers should make sure those blogs know about the kids books they publish.

Buzz comes from links – more links more visitors

How do you measure?
– BlogPulse – measure conversations, trends, track competitors
(shows graph comparing Kodak, Nikon and another camera mfg)

Next up is Detlev Johnson from Position Technologies who talks all about paid inclusion.

Detlev asks, “How many advertised on GoTo.com?” Several hands raise. That goes way back. Then Google came on the scene.

Where did paid inclusion come from? When GoTo came on the scene, other engines started offering paid inclusion as a way to monetize their natural search listings.

AdWords captured the market
– However cpc can be high, lower freq of clicks, sposored listings less clicks than natural
– Powerful natural listings – being well represented can drive excel;lent traffic
– Paid inclusion allows you to manage your “natural” listings in Yahoo. Full service solutions available. Specialized feeds increase performance

Shows graph:
Yahoo offers, natural, ppc and paid inclusion
Google, MSN, Ask offer natural, ppc
A9 offers natural

Shows Yahoo search results page – where paid and natural search results are.

Types of feeds:
– Top level feeds
– Category level feeds
– Product feeds

Optimization steps
– COllection method for feed data
– Build feed using templates
– Push feed to search engine

Optimization of feeds include the above steps plus a feedback loop.

Feed submitting and the approval process
– Trusted feed
– Editorial review and approval
This was a much more involved diagram and I didn’t get it all. Call Detlev at PositionTech.com if you want to know more.

It’s important to find a partner you can trust.

Last up is Howard Blumenthal from shop.com to talk about shopping search engines.

Why are shopping engines important?

Conmsumers don’t shop the way we want them to. They start with a cycle from general to specific. Few have decided on the brands, makes or models they want to buy when the shopping process starts. That’s what shopping engines do best. They take the consumer from general to specific.

Only 20% of consumers think of the store they want to go to before they go online. So the choice of which store to buy from comes after the search process has started.

On average, comsumers visit 2.6 sites to research purchases.

61% in 2005 vs 45% in 2004 used comparison shopping engines.

JupiterResearch advises retailers to be present in multiple locations for customer exposure.

Tradictional engines models
– Data feeds (most common method)
– Link to merchants site

Partner shopping engines
– Cost per order
– Data feeds
– Co-merchants of record
– Only partner provided product

Hybrid shopping engines
– CPO and CPC
– Data feeds
– Amazon is merchant of record

Maximize shopping search ROI

Data feed issues
– Different requirements for each engine
– Lack of knowledge and resources
– Quality issues

Data feed solutions
– Start with the most complicated feed requirments. It’s easier to scale back
– Use a data feed provider

Overcome data feed barriers – quality

Shows Nextag search results and breaks down components
– Justify price
– Clarify context
– Format how information is displayed. Need to know who shopping search engine is going to combine your info so you can avoid things like duplicate mention of brand name, product type, etc.

Shows graph – Paid search cpc costs are going up.

– CPC Model Issues
JupiterResearch – 58% of merchants are only measuring results by traffic volume – they should be using ROI. Revenue per click.

CPC price increases will limit the number of products you can submit.

CPC Model Solutions
– Add or convert cpo models
– Expand to secondary engines
– Reword copy/landing pages to improve conversion rates

Additionl Tips
– Overlap between engines is very small, so use multiple shopping engines.
– Use shopping engines to reinforce brand and build loyalty
– Use search data for competitive research
– Leverage shopping engines with paiod search to provide secondary and tertiary positioning or to reallocate spend – remember, that shopping engines are spending money on paid search too. Take that into account with your own PPC.

Recommends getting into Froogle, shop.com and shopping.com.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.