December 29, 2008, 12:00 AM

Zazzle zaps up 2008 sales with sharpened search and e-mail marketing

The web-only retailer of products ranging from t-shirts and sneakers to postage stamps reported Thanksgiving weekend sales up 107% over the same weekend in 2007. Sales continued on a fast pace the following week, growing 70% over the same week a year earlier.

Despite the struggling economy, some online retailers reported strong holiday season 2008 sales. Few could claim, however, that sales more than doubled year over year as the season got underway.

But Zazzle.com Inc. can. The web-only retailer of products ranging from t-shirts and sneakers to postage stamps-all of which can be customized online by shoppers-reported Thanksgiving weekend sales up 107% over the same weekend in 2007. Sales continued on a fast pace the following week, growing 70% over the same week a year earlier.

By contrast, industrywide online retail sales were up 2% year over year on Thanksgiving Day 2008 and the day after, and online sales climbed 9% the following week, web measurement firm comScore Inc. reports.

Zazzle’s secret, vice president of marketing Jason Kang says, was in a sharpened search strategy and more personalized e-mail marketing messages.

For instance, Zazzle increased spending on gift- and holiday-oriented paid search keywords, such as “unique gifts” and “Christmas cards.” It also included more such terms in its web pages to boost natural search rankings. “We didn’t have pages optimized for many keywords, and now we do,” Kang says.

The e-retailer also fine-tuned its e-mail marketing program for the ’08 holidays. It segmented its e-mail list to provide more relevant messages for particular types of customers, Kang says. With the economic downturn, he adds, one of the most effective tactics was offering steep discounts to repeat customers.

bill@verticalwebmedia.com

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