December 9, 2008, 12:00 AM

Increased focus on marketing reaps big holiday rewards for Zazzle.com

For the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, sales were up 107% year over year; for the following five days, sales jumped 70%, the e-retailer reports.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research

A greater focus on marketing is bearing fruit, and plenty of it, for personalized products e-retailer Zazzle.com Inc. during the holiday season.

For the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, sales were up 107% year over year; for the following five days, sales jumped 70%, the e-retailer reports. By contrast, industrywide online retail sales were up 2% year over year on Thanksgiving and Friday, and online sales climbed 9% last Monday through Friday, web measurement firm comScore Inc. says.

In the past, Zazzle.com has been spending time and money on infrastructure; this year the focus is on marketing, the e-retailer says. For instance, Zazzle.com increased spending on gift- and holiday-oriented paid search keywords, such as “unique gifts” and “Christmas cards.” It also increased attention towards natural search optimization, incorporating many such keywords more often on pages. It began its natural search optimization effort for the holidays in August and says next year it will begin even sooner, in June.

“We didn’t have pages for many keywords, and now we do,” says Jason Kang, vice president of marketing at Zazzle.com, No. 211 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

The e-retailer also fine-tuned its e-mail marketing program for this holiday season. It made a concerted effort to segment its e-mail list to provide more relevant messages for particular types of customers, especially loyal ones, the e-retailer explains.

Because of the economic downturn, one of those messages highlighted creating special, personalized gifts for a minimal amount of cash.

“It’s hard to read the Wall Street Journal every morning and not get depressed,” Kang says. “But Christmas is the season for miracles, they say, and we’re optimistic about where we’ll end up. We’re not completely naïve by thinking things won’t get worse, because they can. But it’s in tough seasons where strong companies can get stronger.”

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