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multichannelmerchant-most-valuable-online-channels-june2012.pngEmail and search engine optimization (SEO) continue to provide the most value to merchants’ online strategies, per a [download page] Multichannel Merchant survey released in June 2012. Respondents gave email a mean rating of 8.42 on a 10-point scale (with 10 being most valuable), up from 8.32 last year. SEO followed with a rating of 7.78, also rising from 7.62 the previous year. Paid search (6.57), social media (6.18) and display ads (5.1) rounded out the top 5. And while paid search and marketing to shopping-cart abandoners saw the largest gains in perceived value, affiliate marketing and sending offline traffic online both were seen as less valuable this year.

The importance ascribed by these merchants to email and SEO mirror survey results released in March 2012 by Econsultancy and Adestra. Global marketers responding to that survey chose SEO and email as their top channels in terms of return on investment (ROI).

Traffic the Top SEO/SEM Metric

Data from Multichannel Merchant’s “MCM Outlook 2012-2013” indicates that sales is no longer the most popular metric among merchants for measuring their SEO and search engine marketing (SEM) efforts. This year, 86.1% said they are measuring traffic, representing a 23% increase from 70.2% last year. Traffic overtook sales, which dipped from 80.2% last year to 77.4% of respondents this year.

This year, merchants are increasingly examining total conversions (72.2% vs. 52.9% in 2011) and click-throughs (66.1% vs. 50.4%), while social media enters the picture as a metric for 28.7% of respondents.

More Delve Deeper Into Analytics

When it comes to improving search engine rankings, most merchants (62.6%) continue to look at optimizing their landing pages, though the popularity of this method has dropped more than 11% from last year. Last year’s second-most popular way to improve rankings, blogging and links, declined by a relatively smaller margin, falling from 61.3% to 58.3% of respondents.

Overtaking blogging and links in popularity this year is analytics, with 3 in 5 merchants saying they are reaching deeper into analytics to improve their rankings, marking a 21% rise from last year. Also jumping in popularity are the use of videos, up 14.5% to 44.3% of respondents, and increasing PPC terms, up 58.4% to 42.6% of respondents.

Other Findings:

  • For the second year running, merchants are most likely to be tracking conversion rates (79.3%) for their SEO and pay-per-click (PPC) efforts. Average order value (70.3%) and ROI (57.7%) are also popular to track.
  • SEM budgets now make up 23.5% of merchants’ marketing budgets, representing a 5.59% increase year-over-year.
  • Merchants are allocating 43.4% of their search marketing budgets to PPC, which is an 8.8% rise from last year, and 25.8% to SEO, which represents a 1% point drop.

About the Data: The Multichannel Merchant data is based on an online survey fielded between April 19 and May 21, 2012. When the survey closed on May 21, there were 952 respondents. Of those, 654 (69%) indicated
that their company was an online merchant, retailer, manufacturer, publisher/media or a wholesale distributor. Those active respondents formed the basis of the survey results.

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