Recent research reports that eighty percent of all product searches begin online, whether the product is to be purchased online or in-store. The web influenced $937 billion in U.S. store sales in 2009 and projected to reach $1.3 trillion by 2013, or about one-third of total retail sales, according to Forrester Research. With more activity moving to the web, how can you guarantee you’re getting your fair share of those clicks?
The lessons learned from in-store merchandising techniques are simple: the better the position, the better the results. That said, when someone does a search for the type of product you sell, shouldn’t yours be at the top of search results? While you’ll never be able to control the number of clicks that happen on a web site, the one metric that you can influence is clickshare, or your percentage of the total universe of clicks in your category.
There is no doubt that you’ll be inclined to keep an eye on other metrics such as click through and cost per action, but clickshare tells a new story.
How to achieve greater clickshare
You’ve spent months doing the research, carefully selected keywords and even hired an outside search marketing firm to assist you with improving your position within search results. Most of this effort is directed at the search engines, but with more and more research being initiated on retail and comparison shopping sites, you need to cast the net a little wider. When you are tasked to launch a particular product, it is important to look at each unique venue in which your product is being marketed and sold, and most search marketing efforts only do this to a point. As consumers are changing their shopping behavior, manufacturers are changing how they merchandise their products. One such way is through a technique called searchandising—the combination of on-site search and merchandising. If you’re not searchandising, you are missing a critical final step to getting in front of consumers and ahead of competitors.
In the brick-and-mortar world, retailers pay for premium spots such as the ends of the aisle or “end caps” to increase awareness and actively engage consumers as they conduct product research or commence the purchase process. On the web, these premium positions are the top spots on a search engine results page, featured product zones or any area where products are presented. Leveraging best practices from the merchandising world where manufacturers vie for position, coupling tactics from paid search where position is proactively managed by the setting of a cost-per-click bid, product marketers can now work to boost visibility on shopping sites. The bid becomes a weighting variable in how search results are rendered, and for the first time, retailers are offering manufacturers an opportunity to enhance their positions.
Now you’re probably asking yourself, what is the difference if you approach the retailer and pay for advertising opportunities such as banners, sponsored sections, micro sites and brand showcases vs. using CPC bidding? Unlike the previously mentioned advertising opportunities, with CPC bidding you only pay if a customer clicks on your particular product. Until recently, search results were previously unavailable space and have now opened up as a branding and sales opportunity. Knowing that 70 percent of consumers are inclined to click on top ten search results on an eCommerce or comparison shopping site, you might want to consider this new approach. The other advantage is that unlike online advertising opportunities, there is no incremental creative required.
Clickshare in action
In the weeks leading up to the 2008 holiday season, a leading GPS provider deployed its first pay for performance campaign, and dominated key product listing areas on category front pages across major consumer electronics retail sites. In fact, the company’s products occupied six of the top 10 spots across a network of leading retail sites.
The company had ownership of the marquee product listings and had premier placements in product search results—oftentimes the first or second spot. During the campaign, the company was able to increase its clickshare from 18 percent to 32 percent—a 72 percent increase, allowing them to displace competitive offerings whose products were featured less prominently in the search results. As a result of the company’s searchandising strategy and increased clickshare, the company converted thousands of browsers into buyers resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in incremental sales. Each product that was positioned as the first or second search result converted hundreds of additional browsers to buyers.
Another example is a major computer manufacturer who wanted to improve their positions across key sales outlets, in search results and in product showcases. Prior to this campaign, products were typically showing up on the second page of search results. After bidding for premium placement, the company’s products averaged the number seven spot in search listings, an 84 percent lift in position. During the campaign, the company increased clickshare for its desktop computers by 48 percent, displacing competitive offerings whose products were featured less prominently in search results. In fact, their primary competitor’s clickshare dropped by 22 percent, while the rest of the field dropped 12 percent and 32 percent respectively. Clickshare for the company’s laptops increased by 32 percent.
Although there are other metrics used such as click-through and conversion rates, they are underestimating the retail process. You can’t control how many clicks a particular category will get but you can influence your share. Purchasing on the web happens in multiple sessions and also affects people when they go into brick-and-mortar stores. Clickshare is the only metric which can capture your share of any given clicks in a category.