On the Web: Searchs Lost Metric
Most retailers use the wrong metrics to measure the success of search programs. They focus on tactical measures, such as return on advertising spend or keywords moving up and down in rankings. These measures are like sports statistics — they explain the final score but don't decide success or failure. The final score does that. In business, profits are the final score and sales tell you how good or bad the blowout can be.
Brand Search vs. Nonbrand Search
To judge your success, measure sales and profits from search and exclude from your analysis keywords or phrases that include your company name. This helps you exclude shoppers who used your company name in search engines because they already knew you. Sales from all other keywords are nonbrand search. These generate new customers and incremental sales. This is the demand you spent time and money creating by advertising on search engines or optimizing for a particular keyword or phrase.
D.M.insite recently studied the percent of total sales generated by nonbrand search across more than 50 retailers' websites, and we weren't surprised that retailers with only websites — i.e., no retail store or catalog — ranked in the top quartile. We were surprised, however, by how many very smart retailers were ignoring nonbrand search.
Focus is the biggest difference between companies who ranked at the top of the quartile vs. the bottom. Retailers at the top had dedicated search engine optimization and search engine marketing resources. Retailers at the bottom had single employees responsible for SEO and SEM, as well as other responsibilities.
Determine your sales from nonbrand search. If you're below 10 percent, you have a very real opportunity to build online revenue.
If you're below 10 percent, consider these tips:
- Target 50 keywords. As we covered in October's On the Web column, identify 50 keywords and phrases that prospects might use to search for your core product, optimize a landing page for each of them and place links to each landing page on your homepage using the keywords in the anchor text.
- Have a search engine expert examine the technical structure of your site to make sure it's search-friendly.
- Build inbound links. Expand your list of keywords, and build inbound links to those pages from other sites via press releases, social networking, email, etc.
If nonbranded SEM accounts for 10 percent or less of your sales, ask a few of these key questions (the answers will guide you to a more profitable and successful SEM program):
- Are your bids too low? The top three spots dominate clicks and traffic. If you're not bidding enough to appear on the first page of results, you're missing search traffic.
- Have you tested new ad copy lately? New copy can increase conversion rates.
- Are you spending enough time managing your SEM program? You — or your search agency — must spend at least 10 hours per week on this task.
- Do you have a pricing problem? Online merchants price at gross margins 10 percent to 20 percent lower than traditional retailers. To compete, make acquisition-oriented offers for new buyers.
If your nonbrand SEM sales are greater than 10 percent, test new landing pages to boost conversion rates. Try a dynamically driven welcome message on the landing page, for example.
Increasing new customers and revenue generated by nonbrand search must be a top priority for 2010. Your first step is to measure it.
Larry Kavanagh is founder and CEO of multichannel solutions provider D.M.insite (email@example.com).