The following is a classic example of a company that is wasting money with online marketing. The company at fault is Hammacher Schlemmer, the oldest magazine mail order business for over 160 years. Apparently they moved online like most traditional forms of sales and are implementing a pay-per-click search engine marketing (SEM) campaign to drive traffic for relevant keyword searches. This is good. There are a ton of people that are shopping online and they may come across Hammacher Schlemmer for a specific product, like I did.

Now comes the fun part and the example of a common mistake during “busy” times, or the fault of an ill-managed SEM campaign by internal staff or exterior online digital agency. As you can see below the placement of Hammacher Schlemmer in the paid position #2 in Google for the keyword “double buffer shoe polisher.” This is a good position, and I probably would of recommended that they be placed here in the top 3 paid results with the following in mind:

  • # of unique competitors in that market for the product
  • if there were natural results for Hammacher Schlemmer for the shoe polisher above the fold
  • cost associated, CTR and CPA (click thru; cost per acquisition) for the product vs. the cost for the customer

Hammacher Schlemmer Google AdWords Listing

You’ll also notice how they have shopping feed listings just under paid search results and before the natural organic result. Hammacher Schlemmer is all over this page. Great. They look like a trusted leader and since I know the name, the sale should be pretty easy. Probably just based on price.

So I click on the top paid ad. (like a normal consumer)

With me so far?

Good. Now let’s take a look at where they land me in their website. Great! This is the right place and a simple rule of thumb in SEM101. However take a look near the bottom. (gulp)

Hammacher Schlemmer Double Shoe Polisher Page

Ugh. I cannot buy this item.Now let me play out the mind of the consumer in slow motion:

“Darnit! They don’t have anymore. I must call in, and it is 11:30 PM on a weekday. I am sure no one is there now. I guess I’ll just hit the back button and go to another listing in the search results. Maybe one of their competitors has this item and maybe it is cheaper…”

Now let me do this at real speed:

Click. (that was the back button)

See the point?

It only took a half second to lose a sale that cost Hammacher Schlemmer a few dollars to get. All because they didn’t manage their SEM campaign correctly. They (or their agency) forgot / never bothered / to turn off their paid campaign keywords or redirect that unique customer to another page with similar products, hopefully trying to keep them at the site and convert a customer from paid search.

This is an all too common mistake that we see retailers do all too often. SEM campaigns need to be managed daily, if not hourly for a large spend and high traffic site, epically in a time sensitive holiday season.

There should have been a message near the top of this product page announcing it was sold out, BUT they were taking back-orders by phone and there is a special FREE Gift for the trouble. Maybe a 10% off coupon for your next purchase with Hammacher Schlemmer online?

The ideas are endless and could be acted upon quickly.

Like this mistake that also needs to be corrected so they don’t lose more sales:

Contact Us ASP Error

This is the error I received when I tried to communicate with Hammacher Schlemmer on the following page

In closing, the moral of the story is apparent: take your time and manage your SEM campaigns with diligence or face losing customers to your competitors at a price. Take some extra time to have your internal warehouse and inventory staff communicate with your marketing staff or agency on a regular basis. Every day if not hourly during the holiday season. If not, you’ll face the possibility to present to many customers what you present to me: a lost sale that cost you $ to lose. And then you may face seeing your position added to this list below.

Hammacher Schlemmer Job Opening Website

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