L.L. Bean Looks to Excedia Software to Boost Sales From Web Searches

L.L. Bean has struck a deal with online marketing services firm Inceptor to increase the number of sales generated from searches.

“One of the areas that is untapped for us is search engine ranking and getting relevant searches on search engines,” said Shawn Gorman, marketing manager of e-commerce at L.L. Bean. “Even with a word like L.L. Bean, it's sometimes difficult to get first position or even be on the first page of a search.”

Under terms of the agreement, L.L. Bean, Freeport, ME, will use Inceptor's Excedia software to feed search engines with keywords relating to its products and content. In addition, L.L. Bean will be able to drive browsers to specific product land pages, allowing it to close sales using fewer steps.

“So rather than driving the traffic to the home page, if somebody out there is looking for an L.L. Bean backpack, for example, they can specify whatever it is they're looking for and Bean can use that to produce a really accurate result when somebody arrives,” said Mike Sack, vice president of product management at Inceptor, Maynard, MA. “It puts the potential consumer one or two clicks from buying, as opposed to the home page, where they might be 10 to 12 clicks from even finding what they're looking for.”

Prior to the Inceptor deal, Gorman said L.L. Bean placed meta tags on its Web site that the search engines would use to determine relevance, ranking and placement on searches. He said the company teamed with Inceptor because the software understands the algorithms the search engines generally use.

“Excedia can put the right keywords out there and present your site to the search engines in the best possible way,” Gorman said.

Gorman also hopes Excedia and its search engine capabilities will expose L.L. Bean to a new, qualified market.

“We're looking for qualified leads,” he said. “It's not just about going out and getting ranking on a non-relevant search term. It's about getting somebody who types in wool socks and can be driven to a wool socks page on www.llbean.com.”

L.L. Bean has already implemented the software, Gorman said. The company did not test Excedia before implementation because it takes two to three months for it to produce results, he said.

Meanwhile, Sack said the tool also could complement L.L. Bean's existing direct response marketing. Excedia allows a marketer to test promotional offers through e-mail, for example, and adjust campaigns in real time based on conversion results, he said.

“The real-time nature of the reports lets a marketer at L.L. Bean see into their e-mail campaign while it's running,” Sack said. “It's almost like being able to change the catalog as it sits in somebody's mailbox to make it work better.”

Representatives from both companies said the marketing tool could potentially complement L.L. Bean's catalog division as well, though plans have not been formalized. Gorman said L.L. Bean, which displays its URL address in its catalogs to generate Web traffic, could use Excedia to analyze Web landing pages, report which ones are generating the highest conversion rates and optimize accordingly.

“You can take some of the guesswork out of it and find the landing page that's converting the highest number of browsers into buyers,” he said.

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