January 31, 2008, 12:00 AM

SPONSORED SUPPLEMENT: How to find the payoff in search marketing

(Page 7 of 7)

To help retailers achieve this goal during the holiday selling season, PM Digital introduced its Holiday Dashboard in 2007. The dashboard is a real-time reporting tool that provides retailers access to their performance metrics for their holiday search engine campaigns. Retailers can extract performance metrics for specific periods during the holiday season and compare them to those for the same period a year earlier. The information can help retailers forecast sales for the holiday season and make adjustments to their search campaign as needed to hit sales targets.

“Retailers always want to know how their performance compares from year to year, especially during the holiday period so they know how to set bidding strategies for the current year,” Sandberg adds. “There is more to search marketing than managing keywords. Retailers need to spot trends on how items are being searched, what items are the hot sellers on the web site and in their other channels, and during what periods sales are being made. All that information needs to be funneled to search marketing managers so they can adjust their search strategies as needed.”

Get creative

With increasing competition for keywords, retailers must be more creative in stretching their search budgets, and in some cases finding the money that can enable them to purchase the top spot in a paid search ranking. One overlooked option is co-op deals with manufacturers that help retailers underwrite the cost of keywords.

“Co-op deals are a way for retailers to pay for premium positioning during peak selling seasons when they might not otherwise be able to afford it,” says Jeanine Belsky, vice president of retail for 360i, a New York-based digital marketing firm. “It is similar to the premiums manufactures pay to obtain shelf space in a supermarket.”

Retailers entering into a co-op deal accept funding from a manufacturer to promote the manufacturer’s brand in search advertising using keywords specific to those products. “If a retailer has a strict ROI goal, co-op deals are a way to stretch the budget and break through the clutter,” Belsky says.

For retailers the measuring stick in choosing any firm to manage its paid search is how well the prospective partner understands the objectives of the retailer’s search strategy and how effectively the partner can lower and manage keyword costs.

“Proper management of the search strategy requires a lot of attention to detail and more than we can provide on our own,” says Databazaar.com’s Cohen, who adds NetElixir has cut its search advertising costs in half.

In other words, retailers want partners that will help them maximize missed opportunities to drive traffic, generate sales, and boost brand awareness. And that’s what any good keyword search strategy can achieve.

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