Macy’s Magical Online Disappearing Act
In today’s Wall Street Journal Macy’s CMO and Chairman of the Online Division Peter Sachse talks about Search Marketing. It’s rare to hear a CMO of a major retailer discuss search marketing so it was with great interest that I read his comments.
WSJ: How do you measure the effectiveness of search marketing?
Mr. Sachse: It's not as precise as we would like it to be. ...We have certain techniques -- surveys, tests, all sorts of things -- to find out how many people "activated." If they searched for "perfume" did they buy it in a Macy's store? We do know if they bought it on the Web site. We have that. What we don't know is what action they took in the store.
With rising gas prices, increased consumer time pressure, higher offline operations costs and lower offline margins his cross-channel answer to how well the intent driven medium of Search was working for Macy's was a bit puzzling. So, I decided to see how well Macy’s digital marketing experience was doing using the very scenario he described, a person searching for “perfume” on Google.
Unfortunately for Mr. Sachse (or his Search Agency & PR team) Macy’s does not appear to be buying the keyword “perfume” nor are they listed in the first five pages of the natural results (I stopped looking after page 5). Not being sure why Macy's is not buying what would seem to be a good keyword where they could leverage their brand – maybe low conversion rates due to poor landing pages, maybe a missed opportunity - I decided to take a look at the Macy's website and see what their perfume category and product pages looked like.
Ouch. I haven't seen a page like that since 2002.
Once I was able to get on the homepage a quick view of the source code (below) shows that they have a number or errors with their website analytics tracking and implementation. I wonder if the numbers Mr. Sachse's team has and that he refers to are truly accurate?
One more coal on this fire. Macy's does not buy their brand keyword. From what I've seen I doubt they've tested the ROI and brand impact of this decision. Especially since every one of the five competitors I searched on (including one I worked with in the past and know their brand kw ROI) buys their own branded terms. Also, with their interest in cross-channel metrics you would think at the very least Macy's would want to know the impact TV and other media campaigns have on search volume for their brand term. How are they not?
This is Q2, 2008. It is absolutely ridiculous that C-level execs have no clue about their digital marketing strategies and execution - especially in retail. It's completely unacceptable for a major retailer's website to be down during lunch - likely the highest temporal period for conversion rate and volume during the weekday.
Search is the single most important channel for branding and advertising (and yes, I said branding). Your digital experiences define your brand and that starts with the keyword query. According the the interview it seems Mr. Sachse is pouring millions of dollars into online marketing initiatives yet Macy's doesn't even have the basics down. You can build a beautiful house but if it's on a poor foundation eventually it will crumble.
Some previous posts that Mr. Sachse and his Agencies might find interesting.