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Online retailers: SEO, social media are top marketing tools

CIOs must become "more sophisticated" in use of analytics

Social networking, improved site content and utilising analytics are the top areas CIOs need to be looking at in the online retail space.

In a new report by Forrester Research, analyst Steven Noble surveyed 334 Australian online retail professionals from organisations including Coles Online, City Beach and eBay, and found traditional marketing strategies were loosing popularity.

"On the whole, the greater confidence comes from online tools and predominately online searches. Overwhelmingly, online retailers see search engine optimisation (SEO) as a highly efficient marketing tactic. Online searches reach people when they're looking at something specific so marketing is directed here for that reason," Noble told CIO.

The report, online retailing in Australia 2010: Marketing, merchandising and customer service, indicates the online retail space is set to grow with 69 per cent of respondents planning to invest in improved site content and 66 per cent will spend more time on online marketing. Some 70 per cent cited SEO as being the most effective source to acquire customers.

Noble says IT professionals need to use analytics effectively in order to be successful in the online retail space.

"One of the key pieces of advice to come out of this report was as they mature, online retailers will have to become somewhat more sophisticated in the use and measurement of analytics."

"At present, most online retailers would know how much they are spending on their tactics, who goes onto their site and how many visitors end up purchasing goods because of that visit. But what is quite rare at this stage, and what only a few companies are doing, is having a true understanding of lifetime dealings with their customers," Noble said.

The report comes as City Beach was awarded the 'best use of technology award' at this months online retail industry awards for deploying its e-commerce project and website in 100 days.


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