Bad Sales Email – Follow Up

February 12, 2010

Omniture/Adobe sent an apology for the email they sent me yesterday:

Dear Brian,
We apologize for an automated email you received earlier today created and sent from Marketing on behalf of your Omniture Account Development Manager.

This message was sent to you in error. Please accept our sincere apology, as this is not the type of communication we send to our customers. We look forward to continuing a valuable dialogue in the future.

Sincerely,
Omniture Marketing

Nice move. Next step is for them to personalize it a little bit. No phone number? No (sales)person to contact?


The Sears Marketplace Screw Up

February 11, 2010

Sears Marketplace recently formerly announced the launch of its marketplace. Overnight, Sears Marketplace had 10m items available from over 1500 sellers, according to the website.

When I saw the number, I knew that they didn’t yet have 1500 direct seller relationships, but rather syndicated content from one or more shopping engines like Shopping.com. And I didn’t give it much more thought. That was a mistake.

While syndication deals are the norm for many shopping engines, syndicating product offerings to CNET is much different from syndicating product offerings to a brand name retail site like Sears.com. And this is where the shit hit the fan. Large retailers with big brand names suddenly found themselves on a site (Sears.com) and had no idea how it happened.

This has been a long time problem in the industry as the major shopping engines don’t publish a list of their partners. I’ve been pushing for this transparency for a long time. The partner networks should be run similar to Google’s content network so merchants have visibility into click-through rates, conversion rates, and ROI/ROAS/CPA by partner and the ability to optimize which partners get which offers. But in general, while merchants have complained to the shopping engines about this lack of transparency, there’s been no bite to the bark. Until now.

As stated in this post by PM Digital:

The Sears Marketplace situation is new territory and a game changer. It can no longer be business as usual with CSEs and blind networks unless they make substantial changes to their I/Os that address the major issues and risks.

We saw many upscale brands running on Sears Marketplace yesterday. They are slowly coming down.

It’s hard to believe that the various players involved with the Sears launch underestimated how other brands would feel. But even more unsettling is how some folks thought they could bypass the types of discussions strategic partners must always have to collaborate and cooperate for a mutually agreeable outcome.

Since the news broke, not only have merchants asked to be pulled from Sears Marketplace, but they’re also forcing the shopping engines to disclose their partner networks. This is a great step forward for the industry, and I strongly encourage the shopping engines to be extremely transparent. If they don’t offer visibility, they will lose the big name, big brand merchants. If they do offer visibility, they have the opportunity to establish a strong trust and partnership with retailers, which has been missing from this industry.

Yes, it might be painful because the shopping engines could have a lot of not so ‘clean’ partners, but the alternative is that they loose the majority of smart IR 500 retailers. And if that happens, they don’t have a good consumer offering and will not succeed. Are you going to visit a comparison shopping engine which doesn’t list Best Buy, Williams Sonoma, Macy’s, and Bloomingdale’s? Probably not. Especially when it’s so easy to just start your search on Google and be directed to Google Shopping, which will list all those retailers.


Bad Sales Email?

February 11, 2010

Just got the email below from someone at Adobe/Omniture.

The subject line is ‘Are you who you say you are?’ which sounds spammy to me. And the colloquial ‘Hey Brian’ opening just seemed completely unprofessional coming from Adobe/Omniture. And then the statement ‘since you haven’t opened any of the emails I’ve sent your way’ goes back to my spammy statement. I checked my email and found no other emails from this individual. Sure, some of the emails might have been marked as spam and automatically deleted, but I’d think that Adobe/Omniture would be smart enough to follow generally accepted email rules and get their messages through. This one came through. Thoughts?

Anyways, I know there are plenty of prospecting emails out there to determine if the right person is being targeted, but this just left me with a bad taste.
-b

Hey Brian ,

Here’s my dilemma:

A while back, you (or someone using your email address) downloaded information from our Web site.

Since then you haven’t opened any of the emails I’ve sent your way.

So, I’m thinking:

A. You changed jobs and now someone else gets your emails
B. You got promoted and now someone else is focused on online business optimization
C. Your too busy to read my emails or they don’t address your specific needs.

There is a simple way for you to helps me find out.

Visit our Preference Center so I can determine if you want to stop getting my emails, have them sent to someone else, or if you are waiting for something more relevant to your needs to come from us.

Whatever you decide, I want to make sure you only get emails that are worth opening.

Sincerely,

James


Shopzilla Q4 2009 Results – with calculations for year over year Revenue and Profit

February 10, 2010

All my numbers were gathered from public earnings releases on Scripps and Scripps Network Interactive. I was careful to double check my numbers, but I found some discrepancies in the releases which I can’t explain. Remember, I’m not a financial analyst. If you’d like the raw numbers I worked off of, please email me.

Shopzilla is one of the few major shopping engines for which we still have transparency into financial results as Scripps Networks Interactive breaks out Shopzilla results.

Here’s the relevant information from the press release:

Interactive Services revenue was $49.0 million compared with $65.3 million in the year-ago quarter.

Segment expenses decreased 13 percent to $39.0 million.

Segment profit was $10.1 million compared with $20.3 million.

The company’s initiatives to reposition and differentiate Shopzilla’s products continue to show positive trends. Leads to Shopzilla merchant partners in the quarter grew 11 percent year over year. The lead volume metric is important because it measures the value Shopzilla is delivering to its direct merchant partners, as well as the level of engagement that consumers are having with the core content on its branded comparison shopping Web sites at bizrate.com and Shopzilla.com.

For full year 2009, Shopzilla had revenues of aprx. $180m.
For comparison sake, revenues for Shopzilla in Q2 – Q4 2008 were aprx. $175m. Note that this doesn’t include Q1 2008. In that quarter, the Interactive division – with uSwitch – had revenues of $77.5m. I can’t find Q1 2008 numbers for Shopzilla alone, so I’ll be extremely conservative and say that uSwitch contributed 15% of revenues, which means that Shopzilla would have had revenues of aprx. $66m, bringing total revenue for Shopzilla for 2008 to aprx. $240m.

For full year 2009, Shopzilla had segment profit of aprx. 30.8m.
For comparison sake, I have to do similar math to the above to figure out what Q1 profit for Shopzilla would have been. I’ll say that uSwitch contributed 20% of Q1 2008 profit, which means that Shopzilla would have had profit of 16.8m in Q1 2008. That would bring total profit for Shopzilla for 2008 to aprx. $61.5m.

So what were the effects of the recession on Shopzilla?
Shopzilla went from revenues of $240m and profit of $61.5m in 2008 to revenues of $180m and profit of $30.8m in 2009.

And does Scripps Network Interactive expect Shopzilla to have a resounding rebound in 2010?
According to the press release, not exactly. 2010 guidance is for “Segment profit from the company’s Shopzilla comparison shopping business is expected to be $33 million to $35 million.”


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