January 8, 2008, 12:00 AM

Pay-per-click ad testing is job No. 1 in Q1, report says

Post-holiday, Oneupweb polled its search managers and found pay-per-click ad testing at the top of 10 recommended online tactics for the new year.

For online retailers, the first quarter’s more than just time to catch a breath after the holiday blitzkrieg – it’s also time to start getting in place the updates and initiative needed to carry business forward through the year, according to search marketing firm Oneupweb. Post-holiday, the company polled its natural and paid search managers who work with retailer clients and found pay-per-click ad testing at the top of 10 tactics they recommend marketers focus on in the first quarter.

“It may have seemed a luxury during the late holiday crush, but testing ad creative and placement is vital to your ongoing business. First quarter is a great time to catch up,” according to Oneupweb’s white paper, “Top 10 ideas for a quarter.” Ad testing on a scientifically selected sampling of a retailer’s targeted market should compare different creative, offers, keywords and search engines.

In the first quarter, marketers also should focus on offline conversion tracking, which often is underreported, given that many offline sales start with online research. Marketers should reexamine any offline sales promotions that have an online connection and look for ways to integrate metrics, according to Oneupweb.

Social media marketing is a third initiative worthy of marketers’ attention, according to the report. Consumer-generated media in the form of shared audio and video content, blogs, virtual worlds and other venues were among the most talked-about online marketing tactics of the holiday season. “Participate in social communities,” Oneupweb ‘s report advisers retailers. “There are considerable advantages and some potential pitfalls to this exposure, but now is the time to weigh these opportunities.”

Other tactics Oneupweb’s project managers encourage retailer clients to pursue as the year gets underway include initiatives around usability, local search, keyword performance, data on returning customers, overall PPC spending and how the company name positions on search engine results pages.

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