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".
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  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"
    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.