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Online retailers say paid search is tops for customer acquisition



SOROWhat would you say is the most effective marketing tactics for acquiring new customers?

85% of retailers in the new 2014 Shop.org/Forrester Research Inc. State of Retailing Online study, said paid search.

Only 81 retailers participated in the survey, which was conducted through May and June of 2014, but even if the number was 810 the result likely would have been the same.

Search still works. It’s familiar to both marketers and customers and as long as Google keeps turning out excellent results, paid search will continue to be a blockbuster. Think about all the things you looked for on the internet this week. How many times did that search begin with Google or Bing? I search for a lot of things on eBay and I find that I get better results from Google than on eBay itself. Same for Twitter. It’s simply a more effective way of finding information and we all know it.

Because it’s so effective, retailers said they spend more on paid search than any other type of marketing and 4 out of 5 are spending even more than they spent last year.

62% of retailers surveyed also plan to spend more on Facebook interactive marketing and other social media efforts.

Here’s what I wonder. If businesses had to pay just to maintain a presence on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest) – do you think budgets would shift even further in that direction? Marketers often moan about the lack of tangible results on social media, but they stay because it’s mostly free. Would they go if it wasn’t free? Imagine how that would effect the entire social media picture. . . .

Food for thought.

Back to the survey.

I was surprised to see that 40% of retailers use affiliate programs to acquire new customers. I used to be very involved in affiliate marketing but since social media took off, it’s one of those avenues that’s fallen away for me. I guess that’s not so for the majority.

Shop says display ads are coming on stronger thanks to advances in behavioral targeting and remarketing. But Forrester’s Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodali warns marketers not to get too caught up in all the new and shiny objects such as complex attribution tools that help you follow customers from device to device.

One of the most surprising findings from the study was that even when a retailer does use one of the more “sophisticated” forms of attribution measurement, their actual allocation of marketing spend doesn’t vary that much from those that just use last click.

One thing you can measure is how many people open email marketing messages on a mobile device. 42% of opens happen on a smartphone. Last year, it was only 28% . Tablet opens rose from 16% to 17%. Not as dramatic but you can see where this is going.

Says Mulpuru-Kodali;

I think the key takeaways from this report are that you need to keep optimizing your Google initiatives, you shouldn’t ignore e-mail as it’s still very much alive, you shouldn’t be too enamored of shiny objects like beacons, and last click attribution – though flawed – still works for now.