April 19, 2012, 11:05 AM

Harry & David’s tagging system cuts marketing costs

The revamped system also speeds up the retailer’s site.

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Retailer of gift baskets and food Harry & David Holdings Inc. is trimming its online marketing costs thanks to new coding that tracks the performance of web ads, says Shanti Shunn, the retailer’s director of site architecture. The system also speeds up the site’s load times, which is important because for every extra second a web page takes to load, 7% of traffic is lost, according to research by tag management system vendor TagMan Inc.

Harry & David, No. 103 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, last September installed tracking tags from vendor TagMan. Tracking tags are pieces of code that monitor the performance of online advertising campaigns and help e-retailers determine where shoppers come from—an affiliate, for instance, or a paid search ad—and adjust marketing budgets accordingly.

Each page on Harry & David had several ad tags, with each tag sending its own stream of data. That data overload can leave a retailer unclear about what led a consumer to purchase, and can result in a retailer paying duplicate commissions to marketing partners such as affiliate web sites.

 “There is a considerable consideration period for our products, which means there’s a high probability that consumers who make a purchase on our site have done some form of cross-channel research,” says Shunn. By cross-channel research Shunn is referring to browsing the web in a variety of ways—from clicking on paid search ads to browsing affiliate sites.

The TagMan system allows a retailer to install a single TagMan tag on any web page to encompass all of the page’s ad-tracking tags. TagMan client retailers can add, edit or remove tracking tags via a web browser. The single tag also improves the site’s load time, which was the secondary benefit Harry & David was after, says Shunn.

Implementing the TagMan system reduces the site’s load times as much as three-fourths of a second, says Shunn. Given that Google gives higher rankings to fast sites, that could prove important for the site’s search ranking. But, even more important, he says, is the impact it will have for customers already on the site. “It provides a better experience,” he says.

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