Ad forms used: Banners, promotions on Sears.com, e-mail and other contact with consumers from mailing lists, store credit cards et. al.
Agency: Primarily in-house
Target audience: Existing Sears customers, people looking for merchandise that Sears sells
Spending: In June, Sears spent $380,000 to buy 18.2 million impressions for various Sears services and brands (Source: NetRatings).
Results: Sears estimates that one in 10 major appliance customers of the bricks-and-mortar stores has consulted the Web site before purchasing, influencing an estimated $500 million in sales
Sears.com has pulled back on the quantity of banners it uses, but its decision to lighten up on "traditional" online advertising is a sign of how companies are looking first to their vast databases to market to their customers online, without regard to where they eventually buy. One of the Web's most powerful retail forces, Sears, Roebuck & Co., is looking to the Web to push business, not only at its voluminous online store, but at its retail locations.
With few exceptions among its competitive set, Sears has been one of the most successful retailers online, not only showing large increases in hits to its Web site, but in moving online customers into its stores. Joe Charno, VP-online management and marketing, says one in 10 major appliance purchases made in Sears stores is influenced by an online visit. "We recognize Sears is a multi-channel company," says Mr. Charno, estimating the dot-com has influenced some $500 million in appliance sales.
Instead of banner ads, Sears is looking at online marketing as a way to provide "timely messages to existing customers," says Mr. Charno. Those messages will be developed from store customers, credit cards and other lists such as those developed from its Craftsman Club members. The goal is what he calls "true campaign management," that is, providing more relevant offers to the consumer base.
In terms of other outreach, Mr. Charno says Sears will continue relationships with search engines and with AOL Time Warner's America Online, where it has signage across the network. These deals are surprisingly retro-he's particularly interested in keyword buys, where people using search engines for shopping advice can be fed more information about Sears products.
Most recently, Sears has signed a one-year deal with TV Guide International to place its ads on its interactive cable program guides. The guides, expected to reach 20 million homes by the end of the year, will include both promotional and branding messages from Sears.
Mr. Charno says that's not all. Look for "enhancements around gift giving" from Sears.com come fall, he says.
In addition, Sears will continue to offer sweepstake promotions on Sears.com, but will not advertise them beyond its own site where they provide a "fresh, engaging and fun aspect."