Offering free shipping works wonders for online sales and should therefore be a key element in a brand’s ad campaigns, according to one expert.

In a ‘best of’ post for the Yahoo! Search Marketing Blog, content quality analyst Noah Belson said throwing in delivery of goods purchased over the web can be the "key that unlocks the door between advertisers and customer".

He added that according to a poll by ForeSee Results, shoppers give internet retailers that offer free shipping higher satisfaction scores in every category compared to those that charge.

Companies offering delivery at no extra charge should therefore use their online marketing services to "scream it out".

"Free shipping and other special deals are the best first impression you could possibly make on potential customers, as well as a great way of ensuring loyalty in the ones you already have," Mr Belson said.

According to Forrester Research, the value of online retail sales in the US is expected to grow from $172 billion (£111 billion) in 2005 to $329 billion this year.

Elsewhere, eMarketer has predicted that total online ad spending among American firms will climb by 10.8 per cent year-on-year in 2010 to top $25.1 billion.

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