Though it’s been almost a year since my tenure at Forrester, I am in no shortage of excitement upon release of each new e-commerce publication. And recently, Forrester released one of my favorite reports of the year - its State of Online Retailing 2013: Marketing and Merchandising report. We found the report useful in helping to identify strategies for the year ahead, but Forrester’s findings are not just relevant to annual planning, but also help us stay focused on the top priorities for the upcoming furniture Peak season (November through January). Blueport discusses these findings and suggestions for furniture retailers.
Stay Focused On Top Marketing Revenue Drivers
Paid search and email rank (#1, and #2, respectively) as the highest marketing drivers in 2013, in contrast to natural search in previous years. In fact, natural search now ranks #5 on marketing investment growth for retailers. Given Google’s search algorithm changes, natural search has proved to be no longer as cost effective for web marketers.
- Review your paid search strategy and determine if you’re investing enough to drive more incremental traffic to your site. If you don’t have a paid search strategy, get one. Natural search no longer stands up to Google’s algorithm.
- Research Google’s Product Listing Ads platform. While Google PLA has had initial success with major experienced web retailers (Google PLA commands an average of 6% of marketing budgets), its long-term success remains yet to be seen.
- Increase email optimization through segmentation and personalization.
Invest In Traditional Interactive Marketing Tactics For Mobile
Mobile is giving retailers a reason to increase stock in email, and rightfully so. Mobile traffic has doubled since 2012, and mobile email accounts for 40% of open rates. Retailers should continue to invest in mobile through email and search, but should stay away from more risky tactics such as mobile specific promotions, QR/bar codes, and location-based advertising.
- Create a mobile strategy, but don’t buy into the hype. Given the increase in mobile spend, ensure your email efforts are optimized for all channels, especially mobile. And, make sure your website is optimized for mobile to begin with, because chances are your customers are already going to your website at home and through their smartphones and tablets, even if you aren’t yet selling your furniture online.
- It goes without saying that the mobile space is ever-changing, so keep tabs on this space in order to ensure you continue to stay relevant to your customers.
Take Advantage Of Cross-Channel Marketing To Drive Customers To Their Channel Of Preference
Not surprisingly, most omnichannel retailers will only be upping the ante when it comes to spend on omnichannel priorities. But, what does that mean for those of us that are just entering the web retail world, and how can we leverage this for Peak and beyond?
- Control the message. Omnichannel is just another extension of how retailers want to engage with a brand. Make omnichannel come to life with segmentation of and personalization for customers. Additionally, many retailers are optimizing campaigns by device. The shopper who prefers Pinterest may be interested in a different offer than the shopper who relies on email.
- Create consistency across all channels. As customers touch different channels, it’s important to create a consistent experience across all online and offline channels. The shopper who came into your store yesterday, may be the shopper who converts online tomorrow.
- Test new ways of merchandising. Traditional catalog merchandising is still a relevant reality for many retailers, but optimizing product presentation can only enhance customer engagement.
As we look forward to Peak season for furniture, Forrester’s The State of Retailing Online 2013: Marketing and Merchandising provides us with valuable insights, now and in the year to come.
I myself can’t wait for the next report.
About Blueport Commerce
Leading furniture companies work with Blueport Commerce to capture the billion dollar furniture e-commerce opportunity. We marry our clients’ bricks-and-mortar infrastructure and expertise with our decade of online furniture experience, innovative technology, and customized marketing services. For some retailers, the Blueport e-commerce platform powers their branded omni-channel websites, driving sales online and in their stores. For other retailers, we drive online sales through Furniture.com, our e-commerce website. For many, we do both. Learn more here. And, if you’re interested in working for Blueport, check out our e-commerce jobs on our careers page.