Prospecting: Teach an Old Trade New (and Not so New) Tricks
Working: Three- and four-word paid search terms. The term “long tail” may suffer from overexposure, but it’s true that many catalogers are able to tap efficiently into these very specific but less frequently searched terms.
Since major retailers and manufacturers tend to overlook them, hyperspecific terms often are a bargain. If you don’t have thousands of terms on each of the major search engines, you may be leaving money on the table.
Working: Customizing copy for your Web site. Dropping existing catalog copy into your Web site is no longer good enough. Since copy length on your site isn’t constrained by square-inch costs, it’s easy to feed the search engines plenty of relevant keywords.
Think of all the different names for each product and sprinkle them into the copy. This effort can be a hyperefficient investment in prospecting since buyers who arrive via organic (free) search usually are new-to-file.
“We carry several thousand SKUs,” says Craig Flax, vice president of marketing at art supplies cataloger FLAX art & design. “So we concentrate our efforts on the most important products. Done right, optimization of the copy is subtle enough not to look obvious or to upset its selling ability.”
NOT Working: Set ’em and forget ’em affiliate programs. Put half a dozen catalogers in a room and you can start a fight over whether affiliate programs are worthwhile. But even the most fervent advocates insist that you must keep a close eye on your program. Otherwise, it’s quite possible that a subset of your affiliates will be bidding on your brand keywords, posing as your company or even sending spam e-mails.
On the flip side, favor those affiliates that bring in truly incremental sales. Treat them as partners in business, and you’ll both benefit.
NOT Working: Giving away the farm. In the rush to keep up with online retailers, catalogers have become much more promotional, sometimes without evaluating the economics. Even if the numbers work on the front end, promotion-generated customers may be more fickle, with lower lifetime values.