Ask Amy Africa--the Web usability surveyor and president of Eight By Eight, which consults for such B-to-B catalogers as VWR, S&S Worldwide and Hello Direct--and she’ll tell you there are really only a handful of things that matter when it comes to online marketing. During her keynote address at the recent MeritDirect Business Mailer’s Co-op Conference in White Plains, N.Y., she outlined the following pieces of online marketing that matter.
Landing/entry page: Armed with her own survey findings, Africa said that 80 percent to 90 percent of people leave landing pages (upon coming from search engine sites) within five pages of the landing pages. “Landing pages are like a toddler,” she said. “Someone comes to your page, finds it interesting, goes to two or three other pages, then comes back to the first page they landed on. The landing page is a safety gauge, and the [viewer] says to Mommy, ‘Can I go here?’ Mommy says, ‘Sure, but come back’. And if the landing page is [returned to] two or three times, you’ll have a higher conversion rate.”
On-demand e-mail program: Send e-mails to reward users when they do the right or wrong things, Africa suggested. For instance, when prospects sign up [online] to receive a catalog, they should get an e-mail. When they abandon your site, they should get another e-mail from the site. “Anything they do, they’re rewarded for” with an e-mail, she said. “It’s very effective online, but many companies don’t use it.”
Know what your users expect from you: She noted that people go online, as opposed to shopping in a store or via catalog, for several reasons:
-It’s faster and easier;
-They can do this themselves:
-They want and need verification of companies’ existence.
And when consumers go online, they’re more goal-oriented, more color blind, and they require evidence to satisfy them. Everything that goes wrong is your responsibility. “If they’re incompetent, it’s your fault,” she pointed out.
Know who your users are: Most online marketers know and understand their demographics and psychographics, Africa said. But they underestimate the value of knowing where users are shopping--at home, at work or both--what the take-away position is for the user in terms of unique selling proposition, who their best of breed is and how all of these things impact the user,” she noted.
Compared to your off-line (catalog), be very aggressive online: Why? She noted that online user sessions take about half the time of offline sessions. “They’ll give you less time: less focus time and less scattering time,” she said. As a result, online users convert less. To maximize conversion rates and ordering, she emphasized the importance in b-to-b for quick order capabilities. “Quick order should convert at 85 percent,” she said. “They don’t go to quick order if they don’t want to buy.”
In reality, however, she estimated that just 8 percent of b-to-b marketers gain conversions through quick order, “because they ask too many questions, such as the catalog order code first. You lose half your customers right there. Asking any sort of marketing or source code information reduces conversion.” On the other hand, placing a photo of the current catalog cover can increase conversion, as does showing a 100 percent guarantee.
What’s more, she recommended that b-to-b marketers ask users to place orders repeatedly. “The more you ask,” she said, “The more you’ll get. The user takeaway is, the more you ask for it, the more you want” their business. Other key elements in securing online orders include a perpetual shopping cart and robust checkout system, “buy now” and “add to cart” buttons, and enabling users to buy products every place they see them on the site. In addition, Africa added that “click here now” buttons perform six times better than “click here” buttons.
To fully integrate a marketing strategy, Africa suggested several key strategies:
-Look at your marketing plan from an overall perspective;
-Allocate your budget by determining what percentage of your business comes from which channels;
-Online, separate direct referrals from no referrals;
-Ask what the trends are, adjust your focus and expenses; and
-Send out “we miss you” e-mails to customers who haven’t ordered lately. According to Africa’s studies, they should get 25 percent to 30 percent conversion rates.