4moms Swings to the Top of Product Searches

Expectant parents typically know little about baby care products. So, marketers of these products have an opportunity to connect early on with these parents—and the friends and family who buy baby gifts for them—to introduce and highlight their baby products, including the “bouncy seat,” infant bathtubs, and infant play yards.

Consequently, search marketing plays a vital role for baby care brands. “Two thirds to three quarters of the volume of gifts for newborns is sold from gift registries, but our products were showing up on the second page or later of [online] searches. We wanted to grow brand awareness,” says Teresa Hammond, director of marketing for baby car brand 4moms. She adds that being near the top of online searches is critical for sales, particularly for smaller brands.

So, the company sought out a way to get its products high on the first page of search results. Paying for placement through Google or a similar search engine didn’t make sense for 4moms; consumers using those portals often are further away from making the purchase decision, whereas people who are searching via a baby registry at a site like Target.com are usually ready to buy.

“People looking at a baby registry are of a different mind-set. They’re ready to make an item decision, Hammond says. “We wanted to make sure that our brand was a consideration when people made the decision to buy.”

One of 4moms investors introduced the company to HookLogic Inc., which provides a service called Retail Search Exchange. The exchange is a paid search engine focused on retailers, primarily including those that sell a large assortments of brands and their products, like retailers with baby registries (e.g., Target and Babies”R”Us), and those that sell electronics (e.g., TigerDirect.com) and auto products (e.g., Advance Auto Parts).

Companies like 4moms can bid for placement of specific searches, like “baby bouncers” to win top placement in relevant searches and category sorts on retail sites that use the exchange. According to HookLogic, this enables companies like 4moms to engage customers across a network of retailers that sell its product when purchase intent is at its highest.

HookLogic’s uses algorithms and machine learning to provide bid customers premium placements in relevant searches. The logic engine is designed to deliver the most relevant ad to where a shopper is and what he’s doing on the site. Retail Search Exchange uses a pay-per-click model, so 4moms and other users only pay when a shopper clicks on the relevant result.

Since using Retail Search Exchange in February, the 4moms’ results are featured first or close to the top of popular retail sites like Target.com, according to Hammond. “We’ve achieved our objective,” she says. “We’ve gotten more impressions and shoppers have been more proactive on our site.”

That activity has translated to increases in 4moms’ bottom line. Sales have grown more than 150 percent since it starting using the Retail Search Exchange, and 4moms’ return on its advertising spending is about 530%, Hammond notes. With this type of success in the first year, 4moms is planning to further increase its online marketing efforts, a little more than 10% of its total advertising budget, through the Retail Search Exchange in 2014.

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