More Shoppers Favor Online Shopping over the Store this Holiday Season and a few tips on what your business can do to reap the rewards

According to Retailer Daily, the web has become the favored place to shop this Holiday Season.  In the study 49% of respondents chose online shopping as their favorite place to shop this Holiday Season while only 44% chose In-Store as their favorite destination for completing their Holiday Gift Shopping.

The extensive study also asked shoppers to rank the importance of 36 features when buying gifts online this Holiday Season.  The top 10 ranked responses were:

  1. Free Shipping with Purchase
  2. Keyword Search (The shopper can search by keyword and not just by options given in the menu)
  3. Clearly displayed and easily sortable search results
  4. Sales and Specials
  5. Free Returns
  6. Accessible contact Information
  7. 800/Toll-free phone #
  8. Coupons and /or Rebates
  9. Advanced Search (search by color, price, size, et cetra)
  10. Perpetual Shopping Cart

While it may be a little late in the Holiday Season to update your websites search functions or shopping cart – you most certainly still have time to incorporate the six other features into your Holiday Marketing Plans and into your businesses Pay Per click account.

I often find myself shopping online, and consider myself spoiled by sites like where shipping (both ways) is always free.  I can also be guaranteed to make a minimum purchase, if I know I’m going to save money on shipping.  Imagine all the people who only purchase at sites with free shipping – make sure you don’t miss out on this bump in shoppers and that your business is offering Free Shipping this Holiday Season.

I’m also often roped in by sales and specials found on my favorite sites.  For example last month, I was shopping on and was immediately taken in by the New Limited Edition Fresh Sugar Social Set.  I made sure to purchase the item quickly before the Limited Edition set was snapped up and I was left out in the cold.  Imagine how many other shoppers have purchased this item because of the special Limited Edition status. Just because you decide to offer a special it doesn’t mean you have to cut your businesses margins. A special could just mean that you are offering something that is “Special” (due to limited availability or abscence of stock at any other retailer).  This tactic focuses on offering something to the shopper that gives them a fear of losing if they don’t act soon.  Obviously, no amount of fancy jargon will overcome a product that is priced too high – so make sure you are price shopping your competitors sites throughout the holiday season and making pricing adjustments as neccessary.

As far as returns, I have to circle back to my personal favorite shoe shopping site  It’s very convenient and reassuring to shop online and know the company will honor returns and foot the bill for return shipping, no questions asked.  Smaller businesses may not be able to absorb the cost of free return shipping with each order, but this Holiday Shopping season could be a good time to give free returns a try in order to stay competitive this season.

This holiday season may be more challenging for online and offline retailers alike, but by using a few of the tips shared above hopefully it will be a profitable time for your business.  To discuss the tips above or to discuss your Online Holiday Marketing Plan please give your team at Leverage Marketing a call.  Happy Holidays!

Paid Search Spending Slows

Enter the words “Paid Search Spending Slows” into the search engine of your choice and you will see a deluge of articles – mainly about Google’s dim prospects for the future.   One of the articles I found “Note to Google: Paid search growth seen slowing” was from August of 2004.  As early as four years ago, analysts were predicting the maturation of the Search Market and Google’s growth.  What this means is that at one time new search entrants may have been growing by leaps and bounds but as more people have entered the market, the rate of growth has slowed.  News of this slowdown in search growth can also be seen as late as this month.  According to a recent study by Covario and released by Btobonline “Year-over-Year growth in paid search stood at 32% in the third quarter, compared with 83% year-over-year growth in the first quarter of 2007.”

It’s important to point out that paid search spending is slowing not declining.  This trend is very important to the growth of all of our customers pay per click accounts, because we need to keep in mind:
•    Consumers are still searching online and clicking on businesses paid search ads.
•    Marketers (some who may be your competition) are advertising and hope “ready, willing and able” buyers click on their paid search ads.
•    People like you and me are purchasing products and services online at a rapid pace.

We also have to look at the time frames compared when we hear of a slowdown of any sort.  In the study released by Covario – the time frame compared is the 1st quarter of 2007 to the 3rd quarter of 2008. Perhaps a more accurate time frame to account for the slowdown would have been from the 3rd quarter of 2007 to the 3rd quarter of 2008.  Obviously you would not want to compare the performance of your Pay Per Click Campaign in September 2008 to how it performed in February 2007.  In my opinion, that is just silly and you will most likely end up with a trend that has little value to the future of your account.

We all know the economy is changing, search marketing is maturing, but advertising online with pay per click marketing is probably going to give you better results than passing out business cards at your local grocery store or even running ads in the newspaper.  Keep in mind, Leverage Marketing can assist with your paid search marketing, but can also assist with your organic search needs through our Search Engine Optimization (SEO) department.

Google’s Chief Economist On the Recession

The verdict is still out on whether or not we are in a recession, but according to Google’s Chief Economist, Hal Varian, “A recession will prompt consumers to use search even more frequently to find deals”.  He went on to say that “advertisers are willing to take all the clicks we can give them” at current prices. Not very surprising given the fact that Google’s bottom line did very well in the last quarter despite numerous less than favorable expectations for the company.

What this means for online advertisers – it’s still a bit early to tell. But, it’s obviously a good time to market your business online. One of two things will happen:

  1. You will pick up market share from your competitors leaving the market.
  2. Your business will keep its place in the market beside your competition and you won’t find yourself lagging behind once this ‘recession’ is over.

Businesses large and small are likely to feel the effects of this likely recession. As your marketing plan adjusts to the changing economic climate, be sure to keep your team updated at Leverage Marketing.

Marketing in a Down Economy

“Focus on the intersection between what you do best and what your customers want the most.  Relationships outlast transactions.”  This is a quote that I took away from watching a clip recently on Fox Business News – How to Market in a Down Economy.

A concise statement that many might pass off as commonsense, but raises the question: Does everyone involved in making sure your business is a success, including Leverage Marketing, know what makes your business the best and do they also relay that information to the customer?

For example, if your business is securing hotel rooms for leisure travelers – what makes your business the best?  Why should I as a leisure traveler choose your hotel booking services over another service?  You may say because my prices are the lowest and all hotel rooms are guaranteed.  Sold – this is what I want the most – the lowest price and obviously to not find upon arrival that I have been bumped because a guest decided not to check out of your hotel at the last minute.

Does your web page effectively speak to your customers needs while highlighting what it is that your business can do to meet their needs?

Going back to our example, does your landing page tell me that rooms are guaranteed or do I have to search in your websites’ Terms and Conditions to find this information?  What about if I actually do find a lower price, how easy do the instructions make it for me to contact you and make sure I receive the lowest price guarantee?

Finally, when a prospective customer contacts your business for assistance are they met with someone who is enthusiastic and will go the extra mile to ensure their satisfaction?  When customers contact your business are their inquiries responded to promptly and professionally?

In our example, I may want to contact your business before booking online to ensure that I can pay with Discover upon completion of my stay.  Will I be met with someone who is pleased to find out the answer and call me back or will I be met with someone exhibiting traits a tad less desirable and annoyed that I called?

Hopefully the questions above will help you remember to focus on “what you do best and what your customers want the most,” not only during the downturn in the economy but also when economic times get better.  Please remember that Pay Per Click Management services at Leverage Marketing include landing page optimization suggestions and we look forward to assisting you with ensuring that your business is focusing on “what you do best and what your customers want the most.”