The Rimm-Kaufman Group

Blogging 101 for Catalogers
September 1, 2007

Is your company blogging yet? With the soaring cost of postage and pay-per-click advertising, blogging offers catalogers a powerful channel to get their message to prospects and customers worldwide. The cost is low. The impact is high. Here are 11 steps to get you started. 1. READ LOTS OF BLOGS. Before you start your own blog, spend at least two weeks voraciously reading. Choose an RSS reader; I recommend Google Reader. Get familiar with blog search engines, such as Technorati. Find bloggers writing about niches related to your company, products, industry, customers, etc. Add bloggers you like to your RSS reader. Follow

E-commerce Insights: The (Free) Benefits of Google’s Webmaster Central
July 1, 2007

If you’re not using Google’s Webmaster Central, you should start. Google Webmaster Central is a great bundle of free Google tools to help you understand how Google indexes your site. It’s essential to ranking well in Google’s natural rankings. And as a bonus of sorts, by fixing problems revealed by Webmaster Central, you often can improve your positioning on secondary engines, too. For starters, you need a Google account. Go to: Next, go to (and bookmark) the Google Webmaster Central homepage: The Help Center, blog and forums are worth monitoring. These resources provide valuable advice from Google and outsiders for successful

Generate More Speed: Minimize Dynamic Content
June 1, 2007

Your Web server runs quickest when serving static pages. Dynamic pages generated from database queries typically are slower by an order of magnitude. Wherever possible, use static pages. Use smart caching to minimize page builds. For example, consider regenerating your homepage once each hour, serving the pregenerated copy the rest of the time. If you do this, then determine how much it would increase the speed of your homepage, and how much load it would take off your database servers. Could you use this technique for other pages? → Consider serving static pages for visitors who accept JavaScript. Then use asynchronous JavaScript and XML, a Web

B-to-B Search: Panel Divulges Unique Search Challenges for B-to-B Catalogers
May 29, 2007

During a session at last week’s ACCM conference in Boston, Anne Vargo, e-commerce supervisor for B-to-B computer products cataloger CDW, and I both concluded that many of the best practices for B-to-B search are the same as consumer. These include comprehensive term lists, smart bidding, focused copy and landing pages, strong tracking and ongoing testing. But we described several unique challenges specific to large scale paid search. We discussed the $6.8 billion CDW’s search program of more than 100,000 active search ads and the “long tail” of search terms, noting that the 100,000 active ads are the “survivors” after testing more than 500,000. Vargo noted

E-commerce Insights: Multichannel Planning Is a Complex Endeavor
May 1, 2007

Scratching your head over the interaction between your online and offline marketing efforts? Not sure how much to advertise online? Unclear of the true impact of your catalog mailings? You’re not alone. This column won’t completely solve these puzzles, but it’ll offer some relevant ideas. How Much to Advertise First, assume you’ve already established your high-level financial goals, either for your online program or for the business as a whole. Such goals should be specific, numeric and time-based. Be sure the whole team understands and buys into these goals, and works toward meeting them each week. Typical goals are profit-and-loss-based, and include a revenue

E-commerce Insights: The Online Retail 2.0 Ideas Tour
December 1, 2006

The Web is an essential channel for catalogers. Customers expect catalog companies to have effective, well-designed e-commerce sites. The Internet is undergoing a period of rapid innovation, often labeled “Web 2.0.” It includes tagging, visual search, wikis and Ajax. Web 2.0 technologies will transform online retail over the next two years. Catalogers will need to upgrade their sites to remain competitive. I suggest you read this month’s column with a computer close by — as I’ll tour some Online Retail 2.0 ideas that will transform e-commerce. The first stop is, the social tagging site. (Go to, and you’ll find a

The 50 Best Tips of 2006
November 1, 2006

What better way for a tips-oriented business magazine to wind down 2006 than with the top 50 tips of the year? My staff and I spent the past several weeks going through every article that’s run so far in Catalog Success and the Catalog Success Idea Factory e-newsletter this year to bring you the ultimate how-to “cheat sheet.” Throughout these pages, we’ve synthesized the year’s best tips, summarizing, and in some cases quoting directly, from stories and/or the sources themselves, where noted. Below each, you’ll see the industry expert who offered the tip. We reference the issue from which the tips originate so

E-commerce: A Solution to the Comparison Shopping Engine Hassle
October 10, 2006

Does your company market products through comparison shopping engines? Comparison shopping engines (CSEs) are sites such as Yahoo! Shopping,,, Pricegrabber, NexTag, MSN Shopping, Google Base and Shopzilla. CSEs aggregate SKU data from retailers for online shoppers. Some retailers avoid CSEs due the technical hassle of sending product data to the engines and retrieving corresponding advertising cost reports. But today, the National Retail Federation (NRF) announced a new data format intended to simplify communication between retailers, agencies and CSEs. The beta test of the standard took place last week when engineers at Channel Intelligence used the format to submit product data for

E-commerce Insights: Add the Fifth ‘P’ of Marketing
October 1, 2006

Turbocharge your cart with ‘payments.” In e-commerce, add a fifth “P” to the traditional four Ps of marketing — product, pricing, promotion and placement: payments. Catalogers can see real incremental sales improvement by offering customers and prospects additional ways to pay. I’ve devoted this article to review PayPal, Bill Me Later and Google Checkout. Adding some or all of these payment methods to your site can significantly lift Web sales. A 2004 CyberSource study shows that merchants offering four payment options, such as credit cards, gift certificates, e-checks and PayPal, get 20 percent higher conversion than those offering just credit cards.

E-commerce Insights:Improve Your E-mail Sign-up Process
September 1, 2006

How can you get more e-mail sign-ups from your site visitors? E-mail sign-up is simple: a few clicks followed by a handful of keystrokes. But the same process of close comparative scrutiny also can improve complex processes, such as cart and check-out. This article focuses on the e-mail sign-up process at 45 multichannel retailers. For this study, I pulled 45 sites at random, taken from some of the larger merchants in the country. I signed up for e-mail at each using a fresh Gmail account. (For the full methodology and detailed scores and notes for each site, visit I conducted these tests in