One of many interesting presentations I heard at Shop.org Marketing yesterday was the second half of Carrie Johnson's State of Online Retail talk. In the first half of her talk, Carrie presented industry stats from this year's State Of Retailing Online report (SORO). Online retail is growing, search spend is growing, retailers send a lot of email, all the expected trends. The second half of Carrie's talk was more reflective. She apologized in advance for sounding overly Californian, then put up a slide of a woman doing yoga with the enigmatic title "Search Is." Her presentation was far more eloquent and insightful than my rapidly typed notes below suggest. Here my notes:
"Search Is." No missing word there. Not "Search Is..." but simply, in the eastern sense, "Search Is." Search is a market force, and for online marketing, search is the market place. You may think search prices are crazy, but it is a marketplace. Pushing against that force may not be the best way to optimize search. To grow on any sort of scale, search is one of the only vehicles left. The value has been squeezed out of affiliate and email. It isn't fair to compare affiliate and email to PPC as the former two are fixed costs -- even if fixed percentage costs -- rather than auctions. Search is the only place to get the growth. When consumers in a survey were asked "Where do you shop online most", Google came in eighth (!!). Too often Google searches a retailer's site better than retailer's themselves. You can find "batman toddler crocs" at Zappos via Google, but not via a site search on "Batman" on Zappos itself. Search. We can lament the high costs, but there is not much choice but to play along. Retailers don't like not to have choice. Not having choice frustrates us. GM committed to putting 50% of entire advertising budget in online within next three years. A portion of that will go into search. 50% in three years. That is insane fast change. But it is right, it is good. Yes, it drives costs up. But it is what it is. Search is like Interchange fees -- you don't like paying those fees to VISA, but if you don't take VISA, what are you going to do? Without VISA, you don't have a retail site. Why? Because consumers want to use credit cards. Consumers want to use search. Lehman Brothers report: Correlation between Google Gross US Revenues to US E-Commerce Growth: .96. Correlation with Yahoo Display Ad Sales and US E-Commerce Growth: -.04. From ICSC report, top two sources for new customers online are PPC at 35% and SEO at 18%. Those are both search, and paid is twice organic. Take note. Forrester data shows today consumers spend 28% of their total media time online, but only 8% of media spend is online. Think about that. Search is. The price may not be great, but the price is fair. Because it is the market. If it costs too much, get out. It is your choice. Search levels the playing field. Being a bigger company can be a disadvantage. Bigger companies have higher fixed costs to cover. Pure plays spend 10% of revenue on marketing, versus 5% for multichannels (SORO). So you see pure plays being more aggressive in their advertising. The Dali Lama says "Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional". [who] from Moosejaw says [inexact quote, paraphrasing] "I don't mind if half my customers come from Google. If that's how customers want to find us, that is what customers want." Search is. -- Carrie Johnson, Forrester Research Shop.org Marketing Workshop, Scottsdale, AZ, 4/8/08Carrie graciously agreed to an interview here on her views on the evolving role of search in online retail. I'll try to get links and exact stats and quotes for the cites above from her too.
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