Internet Retailer Top 50 list Analysis

Internet Retailer just came out with thier top 50 list of successful internet retail sites. Besides the fact that it is fun and interesting to know who's who in the internet realm, it can also be a valuable resource for any internet marketer looking to stay ahead of the game and improve their own site.


Well, forst take a look at the traffic and revenue that your own company is currently getting through the internet. You will quickly find out how you measure up to some of the more successful websites in the world. If a company can get only 500,000 unique visitors a month to their site and still bring in $50 million in revenue a year, they are doing something right. I dont care what industry or product you are selling, the internet provides plenty of opportunity. The companies that have a relatively low amount of traffic and still pulls a comapratively high amount of sales obviously undrestand the concepts of reverse marketing over the internet. They are striking a right cord with thier consumers and target market. They are filling a need not currently being satisfied (and this doe not mean that they are the only ones providing that product or service).

It should be a benchmark for any and every marketer. I particularly am interested because I work with a company that bring in almost 3x the amount of traffic that some of these websites do, and yet have 1/4 of the revenue that they have? Some work to do? You betchya. (although i cant complain about having so much traffic- that obviously is not a hige concern as it is for many out there).

Here are my favorites out of the top 50 list:

This company is working miracles. A small startup out of Utah, they truly have begun to figure out what outdoor enthuiasts want. With only 385,00 unique visitors a month, they plan to do $50 million in revenue this year- and still growing.
Thier site is great. Very easy to navigate- and no extra scrolling! most everything is centered on one single page while navigating, and the process to get to a product is very logical and easy to understand. Once reason why they also do well is that they provide some excellent and innovative promotional activities to draw consumers in- and keep them coming back. I assume that a good portion of the revenue comes from returning visitors as well- proof that reverse marketing in done well.
I must admit that I do not like their site very much- I think it is too cluttered and busy. But, they must convert better than a ------(lets just say they do quite well). With only 83,000 unique visitors a month, the company takes in over $100 million in online sales revenue! They have to have tone of loyal customers to take in that amount of online sales. Conversion and loyalty are awesome.
The one thing I do like a lot is the pictures and descriptions that go along with every product. Its a great marketing blurb and product description with every item they have, so purchasing is a little easier for the consumer.
Another site with amazing numbers. They also make shopping for jewlrey online almost fun. Only 739,000 unique visitors a month with $169 million in online sales revenue. The interesting part is that from a month to month basis, my guess is that the return visitors who make repeat purchases are not a lot. Therefore, initial conversion and one-time sales are where most of the revenue come from.
The graphics and steps to choosing the right jewlrey are perfect for anyone looking. The best part is that they educate you during the process in a simple, easy manner. Study this site from every aspect and you have a good model to go off of.

I plan on going through more of the sites and adding some further analysis as to the reasons why these sites do so well. The point being that if the company can truly reverse market the online model and capture a customer the rest is easy.

Test, test, test

With all this reverse marketing talk about customer centered websites, I have asked myself a question- are all of the suggestions and tips for sure "homeruns" for any website?

The answer is- I don't know. Although we may follow the studies and cases and tips by professionals, the fact of the matter still remains that we cannot perfectly dictate the actions and habits of online consumers. The only way to get good results from any idea implemented is to test the new idea against what you currently have. Often times you will be amazed at the results.

For example: J.Jill retailer ran a promotion through their email campaign. They wanted to offer free shipping for orders over a certain dollar amount. Nothing new and revolutionary. But the marketers were trying to decide the right dollar amount to put. So they came up with a couple of dollar amounts and decided to test one against the other. One offer gave the free shipping to any order over $75. The other offer gave free shipping for orders over $150. The email was sent out and the results came back.
Interestingly enough, the offer with orders over $150 dollars had just as more purchases than the other offer- obviously bringing in a lot more revenue as well.
It just goes to show that you never know what the cat will bring in unless you test the different options first.

Internet Reverse Marketing

As I have blogged about reverse marketing in relation to brick and mortar organizations previously, I have currently taken interest into blogging about internet marketing as well.

I recently have had wuite a bit of experience in internet marketing, but in regards to how the consumer reacts to the internet moreso than, say, SEO tactics. Online purchasing behavior is much different than retail or other areas of business.

Simplicity is king. I blogged earlier about some keys to landing pages and campaigns relating to design and layout of the pages themselves. Since the end goalis conversion for most sites, a website needs to be focused on adapting to the consumer behavior.

Keeping everything on the site "above the fold", quick scanability, and even proiper headlines and hero shots. ALl of these elements need to be evaluated based on howthe consumer acts...not what the business wants.

Landing Pages for Websites cont'd

And the most important aspect (as text is related)?

The headline.

THe headlines of your pages should directly correlate to the place they came from. Your customer clicked to your landing page for a reason, and they need confirmation that they are in the right place.

As mentioned before, as an internet marketer you know that you have about 8 sec. to convince a visitor to stay- and the headline is the easiest way to confort them into investing more time.

Lets look at this heatmap- how much of anything else besides the Headline and picture are even looked at?

The point is that the visitor makes the decision off of those initial aspects,period. So no matter what the programmers and designers say, the decision needs to be based off of what the consumer does; the behavior of the consumer. Reverse marketing ring a bell? Yep, consumer focused websites are a must.

SEO Tools Online

I found this list online and plan on adding a few of my own links to it- so look for more links added to the list in a couple of days.

Feel free to use this list on any sites. I jujst ask that you in turn link back to my site here. To make it easy, here is the code for my site that you can just copy and paste into your template:

<a href=""> Reverse Marketing Blog</a>

Also, give credit where credit is due. Thanks to Wayne at World Famous Gift Baskets


1. Reporting Spam to Google -
2. Use Google to search your website -
3. Submit your website to Google -
4. Monitor Keyword Phrases - (This is neat to check out however does not help that much)
5. Googles Guidelines for Websmasters - (A must read new people)
6. Facts for Webmasters -
7. Having Trouble? Contact Google Directly -
8. Googles Top 3 asked Questions -

1. Get your products into Froogle -

1. PPC with Espotting -

Website Design & Tools
1. Free Forms for your website TFMail -
2. Validate Your HTML -
3. HTTP Error Code Meanings -
4. Keyword Tracking -
5. Link Checker -;%20charset=utf-8
6. Search Engine Relationship Chart -
Bruce Clay does an excellent job of keeping this updated.
7. Link Popularity Checker (Uptime Bot) -
8. Character Counting - (This is great when optimizing your title or meta tags)
9. Character Encoding - (Ever wonder what those iso-8859-4 or utf-8 were or how to use them?)
10. Converting Hex to Dec or Vias Versa -
11. Ascii-Dec-Hex Conversion Code Chart -
12. Ascii-HTML View Conversion Chart - (This is an excellent resource when placing ascii code on your website. Remember to use the correct character encoding)
13. Ascii Chart in .GIF Format -
14. Customer Focus Tool - (Tells you whether your website is focused on your customers or not)
15. Dead Link Checker - (Doesn't crawl links within Frames or JavaScript)
16. Adsense Simulator - (This will give you an idea of what ads will be displayed on your website before you place them)
17. Google Page Rank Calculator - (This is an advanced tool for finding out what you need to get your PR to the next level.)
18. Page Rank Finder - (This is a great tool to find quality websites with the PR that you are looking for to exchange websites with. This tool only looks at the home page not the link pages. This tool looks at 10 pages or 100 results)
19. Future Google PR - - This is an article that tells you what datacenter your Google PR is udpated on first.
20. Keyword Analysis Tool - - This tool is a must. It's quick and easy to use
21. Keyword Density Analyzer -
22. Keyword Difficulty Checker - (You will need a Google API for this one)
23. Free Google API -
24. Rocket Rank - - This will only check the top 20 of the following SE's:
(All The Web DMOZ AltaVista Overture Excite Web Crawler HotBot Lycos What U Seek Yahoo)

Keyword Suggestion Tools:
25. WordTracker & Overture Suggestions - This is the best one of the three
26. Adwords Suggestion -
27. Overture Suggestion -
28. Link Analyzer - Analyze the ratio of internal liinks vs. external links. This is a good tool when determining page rank leakage.
29. Link Appeal - (Want to know whether or not you actually want your link on that page?)
30. Link City - (This place has EVERY tool under the sun for everything you could ever possibly want)
31. Link Reputation - (Reveals baclinks pointing to the target URL along with a link survey for eack backlink.)
32. Google PR Tools - (This guy has tons of fantastic tools. He is not as popular as some of the rest but the tools are great)
33. Protect Your e-mail address - (Obfuscates your e-mail so spambots don't pick it up from the Internet)
34. Digital Points Ad Network - - After using all of the tools and more on this page. This has helped out the rankings faster than anything else.
35. Sandbox Detection Tool - - Is your website being sandboxed?
36. Spider Simulation - - See what the spider sees on your website
37. SEO-Toys - - These are some things that I had in my favorites. Some of them are okay.
38. Multiple SEO Tools - - This website has a variety of misc. tools on it that you can use to better your search engine rankings.
39. Bot Spotter - - This is a phenomenal script that will track what bots hit your website at what times. (Runs on PHP enabled websites)
40. Net Mechanic - - This will break your website down and tell you any errors that you may be unaware of.
41. Statcounter - - This will track your clients throughout the dynamically created pages of your website. This is a free service. (of course I don't have to mention this to you guys)
42. Dr. HTML - - This will test your website for any errors that you may be unaware of and tell you how to fix them.
43. Page Rank Calculation -

Webmaster Forums
1. Web Pro World -
2. Webmaster World -
3. Digital Point -
4. Search Engine World -
(There are 10,000,000 others but those are some good ones)

Newsletters & Articles
1. Ezine Publishing- Great site for free submition of articles. Good way to start building links. Sign up(for free) and get 10 free submitions.
2. Site Pro News - (This guy has some great articles however he tells you up front he knows nothing of SEO)
3. In Stat - (This has some decent insite)
4. Page Rank Explained -
5. Seach Engine Ratings and Reviews -
6. Database of Robots -
(Ever wondered anything about the spiders that are out there?)
7. Guide to deisgning a website - - This is an online book that tells you the basics of website design.

Webmaster Information

1. Want to know where all of the Internet traffic is at? -

ISAPI Rewrites
1. URL Replacer - (Free) -
2. Mod Rewrite2 - ($39.90US) -
3. URL Rewrite - (23.00EUR) -

Link Exchanging
1. Links Manager ($20.00US /mo)- (This is great for the beginner however you will find out that you need to majorly adjust your pages manually in order to pread page rank throughout them otherwise you end up with 20 pages with no PR and 1 page with PR.)
2. Page Rank Finder - (This is a great tool to find quality websites with the PR that you are looking for to exchange websites with. This tool only looks at the home page not the link pages. This tool looks at 10 pages or 100 results)
3. Link Appeal - (Want to know whether or not you actually want your link on that page?)
4. 131 Link Building Strategies- Great article with lots of tips. Some of the recommended sites are out of date, but the concepts are still valid.

Search Engine Submissions
1. Submit Express - (A lot of people utilize this service. I don't utilize it)
2. Alexa -
3. AOL -
4. DMOZ Dummies Guide -
5. DMOZ Instructions -
6. DMOZ Resource Forum - (This is where you go when you website doesn't show up in DMOZ after you have submitted READ THEIR RULES FOR ASKING)
7. ExactSeek -
8. Google -
9. Yahoo (You must have an account)
10. Yahoo Directory Help -
11. Yahoo Express Submit TOS - (After reading the TOS for Yahoo, I would never submit my website to Yahoo and pay the $300.00 to due so- Everyone, I broke down and was forced to pay the $300.00. The website would not get past 30 for months and about 2 weeks after we paid it we are now number 10.)
12. Yahoo Submit Help -
13. MSN -
14. Links Manger Bizweb 2000- A small portal to submit you r website services.

If you have any tools that are not listed here and would like to add them, please do. This is only a partial list of the tools that I utilize.

Tips for Landing Pages (from Marketing Sherpa)

Here is some free information for you internet marketers that most people have to pay a lot of money for!!!

As any internet marketer knows, a very useful resource/newsletter is the Marketing Sherpa. They recently put out a "Landing Page Handbook" study that was excellent.

I have access to this guide and made notes as I read the whole thing. It is amazing that even though the guide was meant directly for landing pages off of promotions and similar things, the concepts discussed can actually be applied to internet marketing in general. Most of these tips will also relate directly to reverse marketing concepts applied to eCommerce and internet marketing. So here are a few notes to begin with from this $250 guide:

Tip #1- The outbound campaign driving prospects into your landing page is relatively unimportant compared to what the actual landing page asks them to do.

Tip #2- At least 50% of viewers to your landing page will decide with a quick glance (usually within 8 sec.) whether your page is the one they want to be at or not.

Tip #3- One major problem and misunderstanding is that your landing page can accomplish multiple goals to multiple targets- this is FALSE! Only have one goal, with one purpose focused on one target group.

Tip #3- The single most important part of your landing page?.... (this tip is to come with my next post)

I will continue to post my notes from this guide for those who care to take advantage of it. Let me know what you think about these tips and/or related articles.

Creative Work atmosphere Part 2

I wanted to add some additional insight to my last post. I know that certain companies actually "force" employees to contribute ideas. Certain companies, Google being one, ask for each employee to submit ideas every week. The result? Well, lets just say that Google isn't hurting, nor are the other companies.

Just the fact that a portion of the an employees job is to focus on creating new ideas- that in itself promotes reverse marketing. You see, then you get input from every level of the organization (especially customer service). Aggregate, you will probably get something useful.

Creating and encouraging more ideas

I know that the most successful marketers/ marketing teams in the world are the ones who are able to stay on top of current trends. As I sit in Paul Allen's class today and listen to him talk about problems in many of the companies he consults with, he talked about this very issue.

How do you encourage new ideas and creative marketing ideas?

Make room for it!!! Most companies keep their employees so busy on daily operations and projects that "need to get done" that marketers and the marketing team do not have time to try out new things or look into implementing great ideas.

Heck, I even experience this very thing at my current job. SO many projects and things that need to be done to fix problems and whatnot, that there is not room for new ideas.
I am full of new ideas and reverse marketing strategies that could be very beneficial, but I usually get shot down. Or even if it seems like a good idea, I get the "we will put it on the list of things to do" response.

So I can see how most companies run into this problem. You just need to find people like me that actually spend time online reading cases and getting news and papers and are wanting to try new things. More little bits of advice.

User Generated Business

I am currently in a class taught by the lengendary Paul Allen- not the one from Microsoft,the entrepreneur who started,,,etc..

One of the single most successful ideas that Paul emphasized is the concept of user-generated content. And once again my personal "reverse marketing" trend comes into play.

How many websites provide a model to allow user generated content? Go ahead, start naming them in your head...

Now, how many of those are top performing websites? Almost every single one. EBay, Wikipedia, blogs(in their own realm), photosharing, etc.. These are the websites that thrive. Why? Because it is the users who create the content.

It is a marketing technique that puts the reviews and content in the hand of those who know the best-your own customer. And why not? While marketers brainstorm in their offices of how to "better connect with customers" they pass up the idea to allow the customer to answer the question themselves.

Once again, a marketing trend in the marketplace that is explosive, yet it is still ignored and reverse of normal marketing techniques employed by 90% of companies in the world.

Blogs on the Move

A recent news post from MarketingVOX shows the up-and-coming potential that blogging holds. AOL bought Weblogs.,Inc. for 25 million. That is quite the price tag.

So what is it specifically about blogging that is so attractive?

From a marketing perspective, I believe that it is the reliability of personal opinion vs. mainstream and business messages fueled by money and intent to sell.

Its the same reason that eBay rules the online auction world. People will naturally trust the goodwill of others. Blogging creates almost an immediate relationship on the simple basis that you are reading the opinions of an individual, and they have no real intention or motivation to mislead(even though some may).

This market, therefore, can create very loyal customers, and marketing gurus need to interpret it as such.

Ultimate Return Policy

What if you ran a company that returned your product, to anyone, at anytime, no questions asked?

I would be willing to bet that any business would be better off in the long run by treating their customers this way.(don't make me cite examples and numbers, because I can)

What do you think?

Customer Service

I just got done talking with a gentleman about his cable company that he works for. He was kind of complaining about the fact that 30% of his annual management salary bonus hinged on customer service ratings...

I prodded a little further and asked why it bothered him so much. He explained that customers get irate when their cable goes out for a few days (as anyone would be), and he thought that there was nothing he could do about their anger. No matter how nice they are to them, they still are angry about the cable being out and end up giving poor customer service reports.

I asked him if they ever off something to the customer for their troubles...such as a free month on their bills, or some other discounts, or any kind of offer. His reply was, "Once you get into management, you will understand that you cant just give stuff away to customers..."

That is the problem. I wanted to explain reverse marketing concepts to him, but I did not want to push the issue (seeing as though he was out to teach me a lesson about business).

Would it cost money? Of course. But to keep customers coming back for 20 years...what is it worth to you? Obviously not one month worth of cable costs for one customer and your bonus at the end of the year...

Pay to be on Oprah?

Attention is the Key

Would people pay to be on Oprah?

Yes. Its the same reason that retailers and consumer product manufacterers sent hundreds of thousands of free merchandise to popular Diva Queens (Paris Hilton, etc..)in hopes that they will merely wear or use thier products, and be seen doing it.

Once again, the reverse marketing comes into play here. Those companies that "lock out" their potential customers as mentioned by Seth Godin operate with a mentality that they dont want anyone to get anything for free..they want to make sure nobody screws them over.

But in fact, if most of them would begin to offer free stuff, eyeballs would translate to money, and eventually keep them afloat.

Marketing job definition

Those of us in the marketing industry I am sure are well aware of the travails of defining a true marketing position within a company. Currently I am on the job hunt for a marketing position, and a majority of companies lump marketing along with sales positions, seeing the two as one in the same as far as functionality goes.

Why is it that businesses still fail to understand the true role of marketing, and the benefit of a marketing department separate from any other internal entity?

Not only does this frustrate true marketers and add to the "sales and marketing" title confusion, but I believe it also adds to the problem of marketing with the consumer in mind- reverse marketing.

Sales do in fact play an integral part in marketing functions; but the key to that statement is "part". Sales are but a part of the marketing equation that forms a successful strategy- centered around the customer of course.

Another piece to the puzzle that forms the phrase "reverse marketing" as I try to define true marketing from what it is known as today.

saying hello Posted by Picasa

Marketers who think from the bottom up and not the top down?

As a new blogger, I am admittingly slow to enter this wonderful market of shared ideas and the consolidation of conventional(and unconventional) wisdom through blogging websites. This first posting of mine is a question and topic that has been on my mind for quite some time.

I live, eat and breath marketing. My mind is constantly turning and reviewing marketing techniques and critiqueing every bit of advertising and marketing presented before me as I go through my day. I am the employee who never "sleeps" in the sense that even after hours, I find myself contemplating the world of effective marketing.

My most recent and perhaps most poinant obessions is asking myself the question of, "Where does a corporation's marketing and core business strategy derives and formulates from?" Undoubtedly the immediate response would be, "It depends." But does it? Sure day to day operations differ depending on the industry that the participant is in; textile/manufactering, service, retail etc.. And if pressed further, every company would claim that the "customer reigns supreme" and that the focus of the organization is to meet the needs and reach out thier targeted customers. After all, meeting a customers' needs is where revenue originates.

But in my experience, few companies actually form strategy based on the customer.
Strategy formulation for most companies orginates in the boardroom...the daily or weekly meetings reviewing performance and reviews. But I purpose that the most effective marketing starts at the other end: with the customer. Hence the phrase "reverse marketing".

The phrase is almost an oxymoron in itself. The tru idea of marketing is to mesh company strategy in a manner that effectively meets and attains customer demand. Yet, with the way the business world operates today, I belive that formulating strategy starting with the customer- then moving up and through the comany till you get to management-is opposite the prevailing practice. Therefore, I call true marketing "reverse marketing" in the modern sense and understanding.
The most effective marketing strategy would start with the customer- understanding thier needs and wants and most of all, reasoning for having any particular corporation in mind for any given service. As complicated as this process may be, it is a topic for a later discussion. Suffice it to say that once those questions can be generally answered, then the next step would be to move to the first line of contact that the customer has with the company. Whether it is a website, a salesperson or a telephone, each contact point needs to be specifically considered.
But wait, this step is not so easy. This is where most businesses fail- this very first step into the company. For evaluation of the "phase one" contact needs to be assesed from the customer perspective, not managment or business perspective.....