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Top E-Commerce Development Techniques Ranked by Effectiveness: Past, Present, and Future

A recent Forbes magazine survey of marketing executives gives some interesting insight into whats working--and what may be hype--when it comes to e-commerce development. The survey looked at the effectiveness various techniques in creating conversions and improving brand image, and also got insights into future plans of these marketing executives.

For experienced e-commerce development practitioners and newcomers alike, peer group insights are a valuable complement to first-hand experiences. The following are some of the leading conclusions from the survey, along with some possible implications for e-commerce Web site design and other tactics.

Winning Sales Through E-Commerce Development

When it came to creating sales conversions, search engine optimization (SEO) was ranked by survey respondents as the number one tactic. Implications for e-commerce Web sites include having an active effort to keep content fresh and flexible, to adapt to changing trends in related search activity.

Ranked close behind SEO was having an electronic newsletter. As with SEO , this underscores the importance of having timely content, but it also goes a step further. One component of e-commerce Web site design should be drawing people into signing up for exclusive content and updates. Besides generating a regular following for the site, it also allows for targeted outreach.

Pay-per-click and search-related advertising were ranked as the third most effective e-commerce development tactic for generating conversions. Implications for e-commerce site design include having an expedited process for allowing people who enter the site by clicking on an ad move quickly toward completing a transaction. In other words, these clicks should not simply deliver people to a home page, but to a buying page for the advertised product.

E-Commerce Brand Building

When it came to techniques for brand building, SEO and electronic newsletters again placed in the top three, but the number one spot went to site or page sponsorship. This is akin to traditional image advertising, and the implication for e-commerce site design is to have a well thought out and consistent brand image guide the look and content of the site, along with any associated advertising and sponsorships.

Looking Ahead

The above assessments speak to what executives have experienced so far, but their budget plans indicate what they see in the future. While traditional advertising trends were often characterized by a pack mentality, changes in online marketing budgets indicate that e-commerce marketers are not simply chasing what is already working. Of the top techniques for conversions and brand building, SEO was the only one to also make the top three in winning increased budget allocations for the following six months.

At the top of this category was viral marketing, despite the fact that it had been ranked in the middle of the pack as a tactic for both conversions and brand building. There are a couple of possible implications here. The optimistic view is that e-commerce development professionals recognize that this advertising medium is quick to evolve, and they need to always be looking to new techniques. The pessimistic view would be that by nature, viral marketing is difficult to successfully execute, and so it has generated more popular buzz than actual success.

Balancing these two views, e-commerce development executives would do well to follow a strategy built around a heavy dose of tried-and-true tactics, but with some budget allocation for experimentation and improvisation.


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