Search: What's On 2012 Ecommerce Agenda At Three Top Brands

Collage-Tablet-Globe-SmartphoneWhat do three executives from traditional brick-and-mortar stores see as important in the world of ecommerce and search for 2012? GroupM Search CEO Chris Copeland sat down at the Search Insider Summit earlier this month with 3M Search Marketing Manager Craig Berdie, Bob Evans Digital Marketing Strategist Nate Riggs, and BabyCenter Director of Global Operations Joe Byrne to find out.

As the online ad industry heads into 2012, both Berdie and Byrne have their sights on international markets and mobile. For 3M, more than half of the company's revenue comes from international sales, whereas Byrne said BabyCenter serves about 25 million moms monthly across two markets -- the U.S. and China.



BabyCenter supports about 10 million in the United States, followed by China. Byrne said tablets continue to play a role to better connect with expectant mothers through keywords like "pregnancy" and "baby." He has observed that the touchscreen on tablets creates a tighter bond with moms compared with smartphones. For BabyCenter, about 30% of activity comes from mobile.

A topic that was not discussed in detail during the fireside chat -- but one that seems a bit obvious -- is the keywords used by marketers that are targeting content on specific devices, and the psychological influence they may contribute to a conversation between consumer and brand that leads to a conversion. Byrne alludes to it in his description of how tablets create that connection with moms through keywords such as "pregnancy" and "baby."

While smartphones with touchscreens on the Apple iPhone or the Samsung Galaxy give moms the same touchy-feely experience, content on tablets typically allows expectant mothers to view products -- even virtually spin them around to more closely examine the goods.

JP Morgan estimates that worldwide tablet shipments will rise 55.2% to 99.3 million in 2012 -- up to 132.6 million by 2013. Analysts at the firm believe lower prices on the Kindle Fire -- as well as the Windows 8 operating system -- will impact sales next year, pushing them higher. The Microsoft Office suite introduced as a productivity tool for the tablet next year should also lead to higher sales.

Tablets also accelerate recommendations on social sites. So after searching for products or services, consumers will often comment or recommend specific items more often from tablets when detailed images accompany descriptions.

The marketers at the brands participating at the summit agree that it is important to strengthen the following at social sites before building out campaigns, to grow a Facebook Fan base and gain feedback from consumers. By 2013, Riggs said Bob Evans will experiment with social gifting. 

Measuring online success still remains a challenge for marketers at some traditional brick-and-mortar companies. Most continue to build internal processes and social programs on Facebook, Twitter and Google+, among others, to augment search strategies. But challenges remain -- not only for marketers at physical stores, but for online. Forrester Research released a study Monday explaining how interactive marketers can -- and should -- make the most of Twitter, but most still don't understand the unique possibilities.

For those looking for extra fodder, Google posted a mobile year in review that outlines mobile trends and stats.

Did you miss this year's Search Insider Summit? Join us in April 2012 in Captiva, Fla.

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