ShopNBC marries Web analytics and search

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What search√°terms bring the best conversion rates? This is a question that could be considered the "holy grail" for marketers, and it was something ShopNBC, a televised shopping network that manages a product database of more than 10,000 SKUs, wanted to find out.

The Web is the fastest-growing portion of the San Francisco-based company's business, accounting for about 25 percent of total company sales.

"If somebody ran a search for jewelry on a search engine, that would describe about 4,000 of our SKUs," says Loran Gutt, director of customer marketing at ShopNBC. "Because of our Web analytics and search tools, however, we can figure out where these people are going on our site - to our home page, for example, or our jewelry product pages - and then see which pages are bringing the most conversions."

ShopNBC can then optimize the pages that bring in the most revenue, Gutt says.

ShopNBC hired Portland, OR-based WebTrends Inc., a Web analytics provider to help with its search analytics.

With its product WebTrends Dynamic Search, ShopNBC grew its online marketing budget and the profitability of its e-commerce operation. Impressions, click-through and revenue have all grown significantly for ShopNBC.

"We were able to increase paid-search revenue from non-branded terms by 25 times, and more than double our profit merging for all paid-search efforts," says Gutt.

Analytics and search pair perfectly
"Currently, the fastest-growing segment of our business is the search analytics side," says John Squire, SVP of product strategy and general manager of marketing services at San Mateo, CA-based Coremetrics. "More and more, we see our customers trying to understand the behavior of people using search to get to their Web sites and how to best address their needs."

Search analytics, he says, is a great way to make those paid search campaigns work. The technique lets marketers measure unique customers and all of the marketing programs that touch that customer, "so they can see what drives them to make their next conversion, buy a product, make a reservation, open an accent or read content."

It can also help companies change direction to meet the needs of customers.

Squire says a women's apparel marketer Coremetrics works with found 40 percent of customers who were visiting its site from paid search campaigns were looking specifically for shoes - but the company didn't sell any.

"Now it does," he says.

Social search analytics
According to Cormetrics' Squire, an emerging trend in search analytics is tracking the impact of Web 2.0 tools on a Web site.

Newegg.com, a Coremetrics customer, is an example of this. It offers a popular interactive chat feature, where shoppers interact with Newegg customer service. Coremetrics will provide intelligence about the topics on customers' minds and Newegg will use the information to drive site modifications, placing hot products in prime positions and ensuring that the site's Frequently Asked Questions address the top issues.

Coremetrics' close integration with Endeca, Newegg's guided navigation and on-site search solution, will tell Newegg precisely how its customers are navigating the site and what is driving them to purchase, information that will be invaluable to critical Newegg departments.

"Newegg.com is a leader in marketing optimization," says Squire, "It understands the value of knowing what information and products their customers are seeking and more importantly, what drives them to purchase."

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