Better Offer Placement Boosts Sales on Living Will Site

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Sales of do-it-yourself software for living wills jumped 40 percent for Internet retailer Socrates.com in the first quarter of 2005 compared with the same quarter last year after it improved the placement of offers on its site.


Though some of the sales increase can be attributed to the extensive publicity surrounding the Terry Schiavo case in the first quarter, executives with Socrates.com, Chicago, which provides do-it-yourself legal products, think the boost came from optimizing its search placement and using Web analytics to improve placement of offers and information on its home page.


Socrates.com had been using Orem, UT-based Omniture's Web analytics software SiteCatalyst Suite since it revamped its site late last year.


"When the Terry Schiavo case came up, we said, 'Let's look at the learnings [from site analytics] and apply the learnings. How are we going to promote living wills?' " said Michael Kahn, consumer marketing director for Socrates.com.


The retailer bought keywords such as "living wills" and "estate planning" on search engines including Google and Yahoo. Socrates.com's retail partners -- Staples, Office Depot and Office Max -- featured information about the living will products along with discounts on their Web sites and in their stores for about a month.


But Socrates.com placed the most emphasis and promotion on the home page of its site. Analyzing the site last year told the retailer that most of its consumers used the center of its home page, clicking on links in a "What do you need to do today?" promotion box.


"In tracking behavior on our site, very few people used our search box," Kahn said. "They did use things around the center of the home page."


During the Schiavo publicity, offers for DIY living wills and estate planning products were featured at the center of the Socrates.com home page, along with other pages on the site. Those items were discounted on the site and in an e-mail offer to Socrates.com's database of 100,000 customers.


"We bid on more search terms ... [but primarily] we made sure that when people got to our site, we did a better job of merchandising it," Kahn said.


Since the first quarter's success, Socrates.com now regularly promotes items at the center of the home page, particularly products relating to topical events or seasons. In May, the retailer featured its Bankruptcy Kit because a new law affecting bankruptcy protection had been enacted. This month, DIY real estate products are featured.


Christine Blank covers online marketing and advertising, including e-mail marketing and paid search, for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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