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Good News for eCommerce

Two items of good news for eCommerce in the last few days:

Friday, Accenture reported that most product research (69%) and comparison shopping (68%) happens online. Actual purchases, however, happen offline (67%). 13% said the Internet played no role in their offline shopping. The study backs up last year’s comScore stat that stated that 63% of search-related purchases happen offline.

The Kelsey Group adds that for purchases over $500, more than 90% happen offline.

Search Engine Watch says that this offers an opportunity for local product search to step up.

There wasn’t any indication of shoppers’ reasons for buying in person. These could range from “I wanted it now” to “I didn’t want to pay shipping costs” to “I wanted to try it on/out first.”

Six Elements for Effective Landing Pages

By Greg Howlett.

MarketingExperiments just released a new research brief discussing how to make landing pages more successful.  As always, their conclusions are very relevant to online retailers and other companies who are trying to generate an action from their visitors.

A key part of the study involved trying to determine whether long copy or short copy performed better when the desired action was a simple email capture.  As it turns out, the short copy was more successful.

In the past, many studies have shown that long copy is more effective in certain situations.  However, MarketingExperiments believes that there are four factors that should influence your decision about whether to use long or short copy–the cost of what you are selling, the perceived risk, the commitment level, and the motivation.

In other words, if you are selling a high priced product, asking for a lot of personal information, requiring a time commitment, or using logic as your selling strategy, use long copy.  On the other hand, if you are giving away something for free without commitment and selling with emotion, use short copy.

MarketingExperiments identifies six elements that affect the performance of landing pages:

1) Friction – how much work the visitor has to do (this includes the reading)

2) Incentives – extras that are thrown in to sweeten the deal

3) Visitor motivation – how much they want what you have

4) Value proposition – the perception visitors have of you and what you are selling

5) Anxiety – the perceived risk to the visitor

6) Credibility – how well you convey trustworthiness

To increase site conversion, you should focus on these elements.  It is important to understand that few changes will in themselves make dramatic differences.  My company tripled our conversion rate over the past year, but we did it with a huge number of very minor changes.  Even very modest improvements in these six areas can cumulatively add up to a significant increase. 

While studies such as this one provide valuable information to online marketers, they can at best provide useful guidelines to begin your own research.  If you sell online, it is imperative that you develop a platform to do your own research.  The simplest way to do this is to use split A/B testing.  This involves splitting traffic randomly between two pages that are identical except for the factor that is being tested.  A split A/B test will quickly give you answers about how you should be marketing, and is very simple to implement.

Having launched two multi-million dollar online companies, Greg Howlett has been working in the trenches of internet marketing for over eight years.  He currently is the President/CEO of Vitabase, a leading health supplement company, selling hundreds of products under the Vitabase label.

Google Market Share Up (Again)

Hitwise released their April 2007 search engine market share numbers today—and, surprise, surprise, Google is still way out in front, climbing just over a percentage point over March’s numbers. Google’s latest piece of the pie: 65.26% to Yahoo’s 20.73%, MSN’s 8.46% and Ask’s 3.69%. Take a look:

source: Hitwise

Look, Mom, that purple PacMan is going to eat all the other pieces!

Google is not the only SE to gain over March’s numbers; Ask’s share increased 0.21 percentage points over March. Yahoo declined by half a percentage point and MSN/Live declined by over 2/3 of a percentage point. Tiny changes, yes, but I’ll bet Yahoo and MSN/Live hope they’re not indicative of a larger trend.

If You’re Reading This, You’re “Above Average”

The Pew Internet & American Life Project published their findings of “A Typology of Information and Communication Technology Users,” on computer, Internet, mobile phone and other technology use among Americans. The full, 65-page study is available.

Technology Use

49% of the 4001 adults observed and surveyed in the study “only occasionally use modern gadgetry” or “bristle at electronic connectivity.” Another 20% are “middle-of-the-road” tech users, either finding technology burdensome and intrusive, or “mobile centrics” who are avid mobile phone users, but less into the Internet. The last 31% are “elite users,” who (for better or for worse) are highly immersed in technology.

Each of these groups was broken down further into 2-4 categories, separated by activities, “assets” (devices or hardware) and attitudes. Search Engine Land lists all of these subcategories, with Pew’s descriptions.

45% of Europeans Watching Television Via the Web?

It’s hard to believe, but according to a Motorola study, discovered by TechCrunch, almost half of broadband users in Europe, watch TV online.

2,500 people were interviewed with 45% saying they were watching some television shows online, with the French leading the way.

“Viewers across Europe are no longer satisfied with fitting into schedules dictated by broadcasters and are turning to the choice and flexibility offered by TV over the internet,” said Motorola’s Karl Elliott.

Not noticed by TechCrunch is that the survey suggest 45% of broadband users are watching TV online. Throw in those that still use dial-up and the number shrinks a lot. Also, no details on how much broadband TV they actually watch online. Does watching 10 minutes of EastEnders on your computer, qualify you to be part of the 45%? Offers Better Search Results than Google?

I’m not sure if Rand was hoping to start a debate on this (if he did, it’s crafty linkbait) but he’s making the claim that the search results at are better than those of Google.

Here are some of the examples Rand gives…

  1. Furniture vs. at Google
  2. Luggage vs. at Google
  3. Laptops vs. at Google
  4. SEO vs. at Google
  5. Web Design vs. at Google

Ok, so Rand does admit that the results from are not perfect, but does suggest that they’re good enough to take on Google.

I tend not to agree with Rand on this one (friends can disagree you know). I think is great for finding resources or information pages and is also better at finding fresh content, but I don’t think it’s better than Google, when it comes to product or service related search terms.

Yahoo’s AlltheWeb Better than Google?

PC World decided to find the best search engine for various different types of searches.

In all, they tested 55 different services, across six categories, using ten keywords over a 3 week period.

While Google was overall the best solution, Yahoo-owned AlltheWeb kicked its butt when it came to straight text searching!

Here are the results from the 6 categories.

Via WPN.