May 27, 2009, 12:00 AM

More flowers and gifts searchers bought for Mom, but spent less

During the four weeks preceding Mother’s Day, conversion on paid search keywords for several retailers in the flowers and gifts category was 7.6%, up from 7.2% during the same period in 2008, NetElixir says. However, average order value was down $11.40.

During the four weeks preceding this Mother’s Day, the conversion rate on paid search keywords for several high-profile retailers in the flowers and gifts category was 7.6%, up from 7.2% during the same period in 2008, but the average order value on orders stemming from clicked keywords was $95.20, down from $106.60 in 2008. These are the results of a new study, “Mother’s Day Keyword Search Advertising Trends,” from search engine marketing firm NetElixir Inc.

In the study of several of its retailer clients, NetElixir notes that brand and trademark terms are more popular than ever with searchers, and these terms convert better than non-branded terms. But after a search, when it came time to buy, consumers simply were not spending as much, which, the report says, is “a sign of the conservative times.”

Cost per click for the month-long period in advance of Mother’s Day for the flowers and gifts retailers declined by almost 10% compared with the same period in 2008, from 65 cents to 59 cents. NetElixir says it has noticed the same decline in general for cost per click in the first quarter of 2009 and predicts the same for the second quarter.

So while cost per click continues to decline and paid search continues to deliver a more or less steady conversion rate, savvy retailers can gain a competitive edge in search marketing as long as they keep a close eye on the effectiveness of their ad campaigns, says Udayan Bose, founder and CEO of NetElixir.

“It requires a basic level of discipline on the part of retailers,” he says. “And daily testing is necessary to figure out which terms are working and which are not.”

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