Coupon Codes Page

Shari’s Berries (berries.com) knows shoppers are trained to hunt for coupon codes.  Instead of having shoppers visit sites like retailmenot.com or coupons.com Shari’s Berries wants to keep coupon searchers on their site.  So they’ve created a page that lists their current coupons.  This is a win-win for both the shopper (convenience) and retailer (saving on affiliate fees, plus preventing a site like retailmenot.com from showing a better discount code from competitors.)

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Early Stage Leads

I’m considering buying a printer so I started by entering this search phrase on Google:

Here are the paid ads that showed up:

difference between laser and inkjet printers

The Xerox ad is better than Epson’s but neither truly capitalize on the opportunity.  An ad copy like “Learn how Xerox laser printers compare to inkjets” might have worked better.

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Candle Burning Times

Saw a great video interview on Dr. Ralph Wilson’s site with Brad Geddes.  Brad talks about using search queries to discern user intent and provides a fantastic example:

A search for “candle burning times” indicates a person who needs more infomation before making a purchase. Instead of sending them to a product page, provide the information they need, then send them to the appropriate product. Take time to provide needed information before asking for the sale.

The specific suggestion not included in this quote is to create a landing page with a table that shows different burn times for different types of candles in your inventory.  This content can then be linked to your various product pages.

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What People Want

The oddest thing happened today. I was looking up traffic data for vosgeschocolate.com on compete.com and happened to notice the top 5 keywords that drive traffic to the site (look under Search Analytics in the image below).

vosgeschocolatecom-traffic.png

I did a double take on noticing two of the most popular terms were chocolate + “hacker safe” and boxed chocolate + “hacker safe”. Though initially shocked I quickly realized people really are smart, this search term speaks volumes about factors people consider when searching online. Just a gentle reminder to never assume anything.

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What Do Customers Want?

In his book Meatball Sundae Seth Godin lists a list:

Anti-bush
Army wife
Autism
Costume alternatives
Dance
Kakopelli
Marines
Nuclear
Vegetarian
Weenies

These (in alphabetical order) are the top 10 searches on cafepress.com, the 284th most popular website in the world.

No tee shirt retailer could have predicted this is what customers wanted.

What cafe press has done is flip the product development model. Instead of guessing what customers want and then promoting it like crazy cafepress.com can sit back and listen to their customers long before sending orders to their printing shop.

So what lesson does this list have for retailers?

Retailers that just want to use their online store to sell more of what they sell offline are completely missing out on the new paradigm of commerce. They need to look at the web as an opportunity because this is the first time they can listen to their customers, not just focus groups and survey respondents, but their entire customer base. Those who make sense of their customer chatter will be the giants of tomorrow.

Related post: Discovering New Categories

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Re-pointing Bad Results

Marketers review searches on their eCommerce sites fairly regularly. The modus operandi is to redirect ‘0 results found’ terms to appropriate pages. While this is a good strategy it does not leverage on the wisdom of crowds. To really get a sense of what the query intended I would take that search term and paste it on Google to see what pops up.

I bought convertible mittens (this is how I describe them) from my local Macy’s but when I performed that search on their site got no results. Click on the images below to see the ‘live’ pages:

convertible mittens macy’s search.png

I certainly cannot expect Macys.com to know the meaning of my made up term convertible mittens but I knew some smart online marketer would understand it so I performed the same search on Google and instantaneously found multiple exact results:

convertible mittens - Google searches.png

Retailers could greatly improve sites search results if they ran ‘0 results found’ on Google before pointing them to specific product pages.

PS: Just in case you were wondering what convertible mittens are here is an image: Convertible Gloves/Mittens

Other articles about in-site search: Top sellers, Top seller lists

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I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

40% of online visitors to a site use search functionality. But onsite search is still a very poor way of getting to results. Retailers can do a few things to improve this:

– Store all searches that led to no results

I believe most retailers are already doing this to iteratively improve results. The objective here is to isolate the biggest lost opportunities. Once identified, these queries can be directed to closest matches.

– Store all search queries that led to one category and sale in another category

Very often after a search the browser clicks on the first link, and then, through some sequence of clicks ultimately discovers what they were looking for. This purchase might highlight some correlation between the search term and the product bought. Investigating these instances could improve result relevance.

– Store all search queries that led to abandonment of site

When a browser searches and then closes the window this signals high degree of frustration. This could also signal lost future sales because the customer no longer has faith in the web site’s ability to find products. These cases need to be paid special attention to because not only do they highlight opportunities they also help identify customers that are at the last stages of patience.

– Store and call/email registered users

If a registered user is having a hard time finding something I would simply call him/her and ask what they were looking for. And slap on a discount.

– Brick store search online

People search like they think. At the store a sales associate can easily unearth the true intent of a question, a software tool can only dream. So one thing retailers could do is bring a search library from their store online. This is how it works; after a customer is satisfactorily directed to a store section the sales associate notes down his opening query (“ah, I’m looking for an air filled bed”). This index is then referenced online and linked to the product the sales associate pointed to. This is how it would work online:

Search: air filled bed

Result: customers who asked this to our sales associates found this product at our “air mattress” section, should I take you there?

Another aspect of this discussion can be seen in the screencast below (from grokdotcom.com):

http://www.brightcove.tv/title.jsp?title=1243494629

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Search Industry Needs To Adapt

The folks at e-consultancy have written a riveting piece on search engine marketing where they argue that ‘conversion’ is now being replaced by softer call to actions. “SEMs are asking whether or not the searcher will return at a later date through a different keyword to convert, or how many offline sales the keyword can generate, or even how much time is spent on the site, and regardless of whether the keyword-related product is bought, whether or not other products have been searched for. The article can be found here.

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Water, Water, Everywhere, Nor Any Drop To Drink

To say SEM has been over exploited is an understatement, but market over exuberance has led to disproportionate investments in a few keywords with no one really caring for the rest.

Here is my story: 13 days ago I bought a new shirt. I have sensitive skin. In the store it seemed OK but when I tried it at home after washing it was painfully obvious that this (like many others in the past) was not for me. I went to Google and searched the phrase: sensitive skin shirts. Not a single paid or organic link capitalized on my query. This is what confuses me: a generic keyword like car is heavily contested and yet it says nothing about the person’s intent but a search for sensitive skin shirts is left ignored when it clearly indicates active intent to buy. What gives?

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