May 2007 - ORA Meeting Preview

Retailers: Focused Benefits Increase Your Revenues

By Sieglinde Friedman

Over the last year, ERA and its Online Retailing Alliance (ORA) Steering Committee have worked together to develop benefits for all retail members. As channels continue to converge, ERA is committed to offering its retailers the information necessary to stay atop this changing landscape. On June 5, from 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., ERA will offer a half-day seminar at San Jose, Calif.’s Fairmont Hotel. This seminar, “D2C 2.0 & Beyond,” will feature well-known and respected experts who will offer a valuable snapshot of the online retailing environment, focused on both strategic and practical advice.

Eric Obeck, president of SendTec, Inc., and co-chair of the committee, emphasizes that the greatest challenge is measuring the degree to which search engines have become a response channel for offline advertising, such as DRTV. Indeed, search engines now represent the primary response channel for most offline direct-response campaigns.

He urges marketers to track the response through search, source it to the advertisement that generated the response and utilize that data to optimize the media buys. Regarding conventional direct response marketers who don’t use the Internet, or merely consider the Internet an order-taking instrument, Obeck believes that they must follow consumer shopping behaviors and preferences.

ORA member Jack Kirby notes an interesting intersection between ERA- member expertise and e-commerce. If you look at the increased penetration of broadband within the U.S. (60 percent) and the resulting consumer preference toward online shopping (especially among the younger generation), it is clear that ERA’s member expertise in wrapping content around a selling proposition is ideal for this trend. In fact, the conversion rate of an infomercial to a web purchase is 10 percent, while the conversation rate from search to a web purchase is 3 percent. And consider that the conversion rate from streaming video to a web purchase is a hefty 30 percent!

Clearly, since ERA members are the experts in this particular technology, our niche is sound. In fact, the iron appears to be hot for dramatic growth in the online space for members’ DR model leveraging compelling video content. Video streaming is being adopted by all the big media companies (including Disney, NBC and CBS) to reduce their dependence on broadcast video. The goal of the San Jose seminar is to bring together experts to address these complex convergence issues, and to provide valuable networking opportunities.

ERA and the ORA Steering Committee are also in the process of developing an Online Link-Building Directory. Obeck, who came up with the directory concept, notes that it will provide an immediate and strong return on investment for ERA retailer members. It will serve not only as a directory, but also will provide higher organic search results for members listed. The higher search results are a consequence of being linked to ERA’s site, which has one of the higher rankings as an authority website with its content considered to be among the top 15 percent of all sites online. Obeck stresses that the directory will also serve to increase ERA’s grass-roots membership.

Sieglinde Friedman is ERA’s vice president of board and strategy. She can be reached at (703) 908-1021, or via e-mail at [email protected].


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