economic news has everyone on edge. Some pundits were hoping that
Oracle’s earnings report would give the stock market a boost yesterday
by proving that at least the technology sector is firing on all
cylinders. But yesterday Oracle reported lower than expected revenues
and lowered its expectations for the year. So it appears that the
high-tech sector isn’t immune to the global economic downturn after
However, after checking in with many of our largest clients, we don’t see people putting a hold on technology spending. We do see clients gravitating towards SaaS suppliers with “pay as you consume” business models and lower perceived IT overhead. We see them taking advantage of the professional services being offered by smaller, boutique firms, rather than large body shops.
What are companies spending money on? Here’s a list based on our customer-centric clients’ activity and interests:
site search and findability; improve search engine placement; drive
more purposeful traffic to our site, and boost conversion rates.
- Make it easier for us to provide more dynamic content and tailored online experiences based on customer behavior and interests.
- Make it easier for customers to do business with us across all channels and organizational silos.
- Get all of our employees aligned around the things that really matter most to our customers.
products and services that are easier for customers to try, use, and
consume without high-touch sales, support, or expensive ad campaigns.
green: design environmentally-friendly products that today’s buyers
value; lower our own energy consumption; reduce our carbon footprint.
- Get customers engaged in rating, reviewing, contributing content, promoting our products, supporting one another.
- Provide value and benefits to customers by aggregating and mining patterns and information that’s useful to others.
- Spot patterns in customer behavior and improvisations that will enable us to leapfrog competitors.
- Understand customers’ biggest pain points and transform our businesses to eliminate these showstoppers and/or to design new offerings to address these customer-critical needs.
Who’s doing a good job capturing mindshare and walletshare? Judging
from the bar talk in my small town in coastal Maine, Google remains the
center of attention. Just about anything people want to do starts with
“googling.” The conversations I overhear when I go out aren’t
conversations among technorati; they’re working people: waiters,
fishermen, shop-keepers, hairdressers, young couples, and retirees.
Like everyone else, they talk about books, movies, health, politics,
life, and love. It’s pretty interesting to me that while the Internet
has profoundly transformed the way we do business globally, the “killer
app” that everyone relies on to do just about anything is search. About
every tenth utterance in my local pub seems to be: “Did you google
that?” or “I just googled him” or “I’ll go home and google that.”
SEARCH: DIRECT PATH TO PROFITS. In a tight economy, when both consumers and businesses are carefully hoarding their cash, it’s even more important than ever to make it quick and easy for would-be buyers to find what they need. Sometimes, as seekers, we go to Google or another search engine. Other times, we know the category of goods we’re seeking or the supplier we trust (or are already doing business with), so we start there. Here’s a case in point. I need a bathing cap so I can swim in pools that require one. I could have “googled” bathing cap, but instead, I went right to Amazon.com—my trusted supplier for most any retail goods I need—and with whom I already have a special relationship (as an Amazon Prime customer, I don’t need to pay for shipping for most items). I typed in the search term, got a set of products with pictures, and “1-Clicked” the one I liked. On the other hand, when I’m researching a new topic or trying to find a new supplier for something I don’t know much about, or to find out about a new person I’m about to talk with, I’ll “google” that person or topic. The point is that, in a recession, you can’t easily generate demand for things people don’t know they need. But you CAN fulfill demand for things that people and businesses DO need by making it really easy for them to find what they’re seeking—both in searching on the Internet and on your site.
NEW CORE COMPETENCY: Integrated Search Marketing. The pattern that we’re seeing in search and findability is that search marketing is becoming much more integrated in most companies. Retailers were among the first to realize that they needed to place their merchandisers, their product content creators, their Web site search team, and their Internet search optimization team in the same room, so they could rub shoulders and learn from one another.
Now search engine technology suppliers are catching on. Many now offer analytics that make it easier for you to mine the patterns of what prospective customers are seeking (on the Internet and on your site) and use these patterns to improve both your own site search as well as your organic search results on Google.
This week, we provide an update and overview of 17 search technology providers—covering most of the private companies whose products we track. In summarizing the trends she sees in this still-vibrant technology market, Sue Aldrich reports:
“Search vendors who target ecommerce sites have significantly strengthened the search-driven marketing capabilities of their solutions over the past year. At the very best, site search:
- Uses popularity information aggregated from retail networks and ratings from sites like BazaarVoice PowerReviews
- Dynamically generates landing pages that are optimized to search terms used on the site
- Recommends search engine ads based on site search terms and product margins
- Optimizes URLs and Web pages for search engine spiders
- Automatically selects products to offer based on site and individual behavioral data
- Supports multivariate testing
- Reports revenue and conversion performance of ads, promotions, search terms and navigation paths”
As your customers’ purse-strings tighten, are you making it as easy as possible for would-be buyers to find, understand, try, and buy? The chances are that you can improve your findability and conversion rates by putting an integrated team together and giving them the tools they need to monitor and improve site search and Internet search on a daily (or hourly) basis.