Neuromarketing. Neurometrics. In-store shopper insights. There's a lot to like about the bleeding edge of ecommerce these days, but the cold reality is this: it's time for basic internet marketing block-and-tackling strategies.
So many observers and front-line retailers are truly excited about this period of time that it is completely forgivable to race ahead with technology. Research about how consumers perceive and then buy that's coming to the fore from people like Paco Underhill is compelling, and new customer behavior data from companies like Nielsen and Microsoft is brilliant. All the in-store technology that will blend the in-store experience with the online experience needs to be quickly adopted. But let's face it. The bankruptcies and inconsistent discounts happening offline are creating a unique opportunity online. We see four very predictable ways to take advantage:
Affiliate marketing: The long tail for content, whether you're a fan or not, continues. Those blogs, thinly staffed content sites and niche players of ecommerce need revenue. Bigger players need display impressions and branding. Affiliate marketing is a boring but effective strategy right now. Nothing fancy; everything about results.
Branding: Display ads are on the fence right now. A fair amount of research will tell you that brands are bailing on them. But what can't be measured very well is the long-term impressions display ads make before consumers actually pull the trigger on a purchase. CPM based ads are a good deal right now. For an aspiring ecommerce player, they're a smart move.
Search: Until some genius group of West Coast grad student geeks comes up with a better way to mark the trail from interest-to-purchase, paid search works. No coincidence that Google bailed on video ads for AdSense this week. We're back to basics.
Social Media: This is about as far out on the limb as an ecommerce player should go. Put the brand out there to be touched and engaged with. Listen carefully. Then repeat.
The latest pontifications about getting very sophisticated with ecommerce would have worked well two years ago, and they may well work two years from now. For right now, the big tournament (holiday season 2009) awaits. Better bring the A-game.