Data Suggests Search Marketers Need To Rethink Top Of Purchase Funnel

Shopping-cart-AOnline comparison shopping continues to drive growth in ecommerce and success for paid-search ads. School and college shoppers this year expect to spend $83.8 billion on back-to-school clothing, electronics and more, according to a recent study.

Search marketers need to rethink how to use search to brand products and services at the top of the marketing funnel. Only 34.6% of college shoppers will do the remainder of their shopping online, compared with 27% of back-to-school grade-school shoppers, according to the National Retail Federation's 2012 Back-to-School and College Surveys conducted by BIGinsight.

A higher percentage of consumers will head for physical local stores, increasing the need for cross-channel mobile and offline marketing strategies. The report estimates that some 47.6% of those going to college will head into discount stores, compared with 59.6% of grade-school kids.

The average parent with children in grades K through 12 has completed 40.1% of their shopping, while college shoppers and their families have completed slightly more at 45.3%, according to the NRF study

Although 65% of U.S. parents who own smartphones plan to use the device to compare prices, the Deloitte 2012 Back-to-School Survey reveals that only 33% of parents and 16% of kids will discover the products online.

Compare this with 41% of parents who will still discover information about products on television, 37% from family members, 37% in newspapers, and 36% from friends. Some 59% of kids will look to friends, 41% will find the information on television, 33% through family members, and 17% on social media.

Online might lag when it comes to back-to-school sales, but search agency PM digital saw an increase in sales revenue by 24% in July, compared with the year-ago month. The company attributes the rise to growth in average conversion rates -- up 12% -- and by milder growth in average order values, up 3%.

Average cost per clicks (CPCs) keep falling, dropping 8% in July, while search clicks grew 16% year-on-year, according to PM Digital.  The combination of these metrics drove marketers to spend 6% more for paid search campaigns. July had several equally high-indexing top sales days that were spread out across the month, with roughly one sales peak per week, excluding the July 4 holiday week.

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2 comments about "Data Suggests Search Marketers Need To Rethink Top Of Purchase Funnel".
  1. Kevin Lee from Didit , August 20, 2012 at 2:31 p.m.
    Avinash Kaushik covers this reality ( at every search conference he keynotes. Plus, in 2002, I recommended that marketers use proxy variables to allow for campaigns to be optimized across the "funnel" http://www.clickz.com/clickz/column/1710302/branding-metrics-search-engine-marketing Of course many marketers still prefer last click attribution because of the complexity of building a full marketing mix model.
  2. Elaine Wu from HSN , August 27, 2012 at 12:19 p.m.
    Kevin, who is using BEI now to optimize search? What retailer/digital business are at the cutting edge? What bid management platform can handle something complex like that.