SOURCE: MarketLive

MarketLive

April 28, 2009 13:41 ET

MarketLive Performance Index™ Volume 7 Explores Balanced Priorities and Winning Marketing Strategies for Success in Today's Challenging Retail Environment

Index Details Email and Search Engine Marketing Strategies for Improved Customer Acquisition, Retention and Revenue and Details Key Performance Indicators for Q1 2009

PETALUMA, CA--(Marketwire - April 28, 2009) - MarketLive® Inc., www.marketlive.com, the leading eCommerce provider for leading mid-sized retailers, today released the MarketLive Performance Index™ Volume 7, "Effective Marketing in a Down Economy: Balancing Priorities for eCommerce Growth." The report is the company's quarterly analysis of aggregate performance data from more than 100 online retailers using the MarketLive® Intelligent Commerce Platform. The MarketLive Performance Index v7 reveals year-over-year key performance indicators as well as quarter-over-quarter results. The report highlights that 41% of MarketLive merchants experienced year-over-year sales growth totaling 15%. Additionally, the Performance Index details effective eCommerce marketing strategies for the most effective channels for customer acquisition and retention: Search Engine Marketing and Email.

eCommerce Performance Highlights

Year-over-year comparisons indicate that online retail is experiencing general slowing in line with overall economic performance. Conversion trailed the same time period in 2008 while cart abandonment rose. Year over year, the "one-and-out rate" (the percentage of visits ending after a single page) dropped signaling that shoppers are now engaging more deeply with eCommerce sites before making purchases -- a potential opportunity for retailers. Specific year-over-year data is detailed in the Performance Index, and will be discussed in the company's upcoming Performance Index webinar, scheduled for April 30.

There were bright spots in specific categories indicating that many retailers are employing advanced marketing and merchandising tactics to engage customers and entice them to spend more time on their sites. Increased engagement rates represent an opportunity for retailers to guide shoppers as they research products they're interested in and ultimately make a purchase. Positive indicators include:

--  41.5% of MarketLive retailers reported an increase in top line sales
    year over year. These retailers experienced sales growth totaling 15%. Many
    of these top performers employed value driven messaging in their email and
    onsite marketing.
    
--  Year over year, Catalogers saw one-and-out rates drop by an impressive
    19.4% while retailers charted an improvement of 41.1%, indicating that
    fewer shoppers are visiting eCommerce sites and then leaving from the home
    page.
    
--  The housewares vertical enjoyed a slightly higher engagement rate of
    7.6%, an increase of 1.5%, indicating shoppers were clicking deeper into
    eCommerce sites, shopping for and researching products. Catalogers saw a 5%
    engagement rate improvement.
    

"For marketers, the current performance indicators pose opportunities -- and challenges," said Ken Burke, MarketLive Founder and Chairman. "In this economic climate, retailers must balance marketing dollars and resources while executing comprehensive, yet economical marketing programs. A well-planned email strategy combined with strategic use of search engine marketing can help retailers win new customers and engage existing customers in ways that entice them to buy. The MarketLive Performance Index gives retailers the tactics and strategies they need to get the most from these economical yet effective programs."

Essential Marketing Strategies for Success

Strategy 1 -- Prioritize Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

The latest data from the MarketLive Performance Index shows that search engines are by far the largest driver of traffic to eCommerce Web sites, generating 40% of visits -- a 16% increase from a year ago. Given this, it is essential that merchants be more vigilant than ever when deploying their search marketing strategy. The report details SEM tactics such as diversification and the importance of balancing marketing budget and resources to address both paid and natural search.

Strategy 2 -- Email Marketing that delivers cost effective results

It's proven that email marketing is the most effective tool to keep customers engaged and increase customer loyalty, and that repeat customers are critical to maintaining revenue. Data from a sub-set of MarketLive Index merchants that have been online for the duration of a 24-month period shows that loyal customers contribute more than new buyers across a variety of metrics. They're more engaged, adding items to carts 68% more often than new buyers, and those browsers go on to place orders 190% more often. The average order value for loyal buyers is also higher by nearly 8% than that for new customers. Merchants that maximize the power of email will keep customers coming back by making appropriate, relevant, and timely offers. The Index details personalized and transactional email tactics that work.

The Performance Index Volume 7 -- "Effective Marketing in a Down Economy: Balancing Priorities for eCommerce Growth," will be showcased in a free webinar, April 30, 2009 at 10:00 am pacific time. The Performance Index v7 report will also be available, at no charge, at that time. Register to attend the webinar, or receive the report at www.marketlive.com/performance7.

About MarketLive

Since 1995, MarketLive, Inc. (www.marketlive.com) has provided enterprise-class eCommerce retail technology and services. In use by over 100 mid-market retailers, MarketLive is essential in implementing and operating successful eCommerce sites for these retailers. The extensible, scalable MarketLive® Intelligent Commerce Platform is the industry's first Commerce-as-a-Service™ offering, and is built on the proven best practices-based Intelligent Selling methodology. It enables merchants to enhance their customers' experience online while dramatically improving acquisition, conversion, and retention rates. MarketLive is the most effective, fully featured, customizable eCommerce product on the market today. MarketLive powers successful retail eCommerce sites, including Peruvian Connection, Bon-Ton Stores, Sport Chalet, Vanity Shops, Gaiam, Intermix, Sur La Table, Wakeside, and TruSnow and many others.

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