January 20, 2010, 12:00 AM

Search marketing and customer surveys offer bright spots at Bulbs.com

Bulbs.com initiated a search marketing strategy that has helped improve ROI by 30% and customer satisfaction surveys to help improve site search.

Recognizing in the fourth quarter of 2008 that the economic downturn was slowing business at Bulbs.com, CEO Mike Connors and managers took steps to shore up the company in early 2009. Bulbs.com is No. 441 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide (a PDF version of the company’s financial and operating profile can be ordered by clicking on its name).

“Having grown every year previously, this was something new for us. There were several steps from a financial point of view that we took. We did some cost cutting and reduced expenses by 15%. Two other things were to cut our inventory and maintain a close eye on service level,” says Connors.

At the beginning of 2009, the company hired a full-time collections staffer and reduced inventory by 20%, which improved cash-flow, Connors says.

Not all initiatives involved cutting back. The company, which ended 2009 with online sales of $11.5 million, a 5.7% decline from $12.2 million in 2008, hired search marketing agency Didit and improved ROI by 30%, says Connors.

In addition, Bulbs.com also worked with ForeSee Results to survey customers about their shopping experiences and satisfaction. The resulting feedback led to changes on the site’s search and navigation which have helped residential customers find the right bulbs, says Connors.

“I believe we still have a lot of work to make the web site more informative than it is today, but we are starting to move the dial to target the audience that we’re trying to bring to the web site,” Connors says.

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