Social Marketing Thoughts from Internet Retailer 2008

Even though I am home, I will continue to write about the Internet Retailer conference over the next few days. Today, here are some thoughts about social marketing trends.

It is clear that internet retail is currently in love with the concept of marketing socially. If I heard one presentation about social marketing, I heard thirty. Of course, most of them were almost useless because here is a little secret. There are not many retailers selling hard goods that are having success with social marketing.

For example, many so-called experts continue to talk about Second Life. Give me a break. If you have twisted views about sex, go to Second Life. If, on the other hand, you want to sell product, do something else. There are no success stories that I know of where online retailers have created any real business in Second Life. Most people in Second Life have something very different on their mind if you know what I mean.

Here come the widgets!

According to the National Retail Organization, online retail should grow to $204 billion this year, which represents a 17% increase over last year. (Many experts predicted a 20% increase in 2008.) Considering the economy is in a slump, this is very welcome news to online retailers. I personally am not surprised. At Vitabase, our first quarter was up very dramatically over the same period last year.

As is normally the case, the top categories for online retail include apparel, electronics, and cars.

I am especially interested in some other data in the report. For example, 53% of online retailers are spending their marketing budget on customer acquisition while 21% are more focused on customer retention.