Debra Ellis

Debra Ellis
How to Approach Online Contests

Contests are a great way to expand a company's marketing reach if the message gets out to the right people. Online promotions of all types, including contests, require a combination of paid advertising and a top-quality network to be successful. The network has to be large enough to generate traffic and interest to make the contest successful. Adding pay per click and advertising on social media platforms is needed to expand your reach. Before your next contest, create and execute a staged strategy to build community and interest.

How to Set Sail on the Seas 
of Social Media

Social media is as easy to control as the ocean. Some days are so calm you wonder if the world has taken a day off. Others are filled with activity that sends customers and prospects clicking to your site. And some days bring hurricane-force winds that threaten the foundation of your business.

Think Twice Before Dismissing Social Media

Social media does present opportunities to get massive exposure without matching investment, but your odds of hitting the lottery might be better. Listen to your community members. If they aren't talking yet, study your data -- it'll guide you to the best balance of social media and direct marketing for your business.

6 Ways to Better Inventory Management

If inventory value is rising and back order rates are holding steady or increasing, this is a sign that your inventory is out of control. Before you confront your inventory management team, however, consider this: It might not be the team’s fault. Effective inventory management is a combination of art and science. The process seems simple: Review historical sales, project future sales, place orders and receive products. Simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. It requires someone with good instincts to predict trends and analytical skills to transform data into information. The old rules have changed. Economist Vilfredo Pareto’s 80/20 law worked because 80

Executive Focus: Build a Business Model for Better Growth

If your company’s goal is profitable, multichannel growth, business modeling can offer you a clear strategy to achieve that goal. Simply put, a business model defines how your company generates revenue, and describes how your pricing, service and channel strategies work together. The process of detailing revenue sources, customer relationships and organizational structure identifies opportunities and challenges. This reveals the correct behaviors that should be your company’s focus. A unique, sustainable and hard-to-copy model will begin to take shape as you continue this process. Identifying your company’s current components is the first step to creating your optimal business model. Begin by answering the following

Customer Retention: Keep ‘em Coming Back for More

Missing Person Description: high-quality multichannel buyer Last Seen: purchasing online 18 months ago The Details: A customer placed an online order for top-quality merchandise 18 months ago. Delivery confirmation was received three days later. Your repeated attempts to contact the customer via direct mail and e-mail have been met with no response. This customer is extremely valuable, with a high lifetime value and history of repeat purchases. Please forward any information as soon as possible. Do you know which customers are missing in action? Somewhere deep in your housefile are people who no longer shop from you. For some, service and quality issues alienated

Past Performance of Employees Doesn’t Guarantee Future Success

Everyone who follows or participates in the stock market knows that past performance is not a guarantee of future results. There are too many variables that impact the volatility of the market. The best way to choose stocks is to evaluate past performance and project the economic climate that will impact future growth. The same process applies to hiring quality employees. Past performance indicates what they are capable of doing. There are several factors that must be considered. 1. What is the similarity between previous positions and the current one? The positions should have similar characteristics if you expect successful integration into your workforce. 2. How much

Executive Focus: How to Create a Tangible Reporting System

Do you want to create a reporting system that quantifies your catalog company’s successful interaction between customers and employees? Start with the five R’s: Retention analysis. Review both employees and customers. Companies with long-term employees can offer better service to customers than those with high staff turnover rates. Losing employees due to low wages and/or high stress is counter-productive when you look at the costs associated with recruiting and training quality employees. If you have a challenge retaining quality people, reallocate funds to improve existing employees’ wages. Becoming an employer of choice will improve your retention rates significantly and will reduce costs. To retain

Data Analysis: Improve Earnings and Profits With Effective Data Analysis

Effective analysis of your customer data can improve earnings, profits and satisfaction, but the process must be unique to your organization. Measuring for success begins with the knowledge that quality data analysis provides a map from the past to the future. Consider the following tips: ¥ Identify your best customers by profitability and contribution. Some customers are excellent revenue generators while others are beneficial for inventory liquidation. Both are valuable to your organization as long as the marketing costs do not exceed the benefits. ¥ Profile individual buying patterns so your marketing department can target customers when they are most likely to buy. This

Customer Service: Your Holiday “To Do” List

The catalog and e-commerce companies that serve customers well will be rewarded with growth and profitability this holiday selling season. It’s time to review every aspect of your business to insure that customers are served quickly and efficiently. Following are some tips to get you started: 1. Be sure your Web site can be navigated easily by all visitors regardless of their access. Some sites are accessible only with high speed Internet service. This severely limits your sales opportunities. Customers will leave a slow-loading site in favor of one that takes less time to reach and navigate. 2. Provide a customer service phone number

Data Analysis: Four Questions to Ask When Faced With New Data

The key to successful analysis is to define everything that counts and measure it if possible. When information is available and the importance is questionable, ask these questions: * How can the information be utilized to improve sales, service or profitability? If the information can be leveraged into increased revenue or customer satisfaction, it should be measured and utilized. * Does the information measure performance of new systems, procedures or processes? The implementation of these items often requires new measures. * Is the information recognized as an industry benchmark? Every company should define their own standards, but reviewing industry benchmark comparisons (if applicable) provides a point of

Plan Now to Manage Holiday Returns

Catalogers often try to reduce associated returns costs with policy initiatives. Since returns are seen as a bottom-line deficit, countless hours are spent defining a policy to minimize returns. Here are four tips for better managing returns:ï3/4ï3/4 ï3/4ï3/4  1. Divide the responsibility for returns between appropriate departments. If returns are due to product quality, your merchandising team must be involved in the solution. If they’re due to presentation issues, the creative team must participate. Slow deliveries? Get your fulfillment and inventory teams involved. Tip: Create a returns team with members from each department to focus on return reduction and management. Fiscal responsibility also should be shared. 2.

Create Your Direct Marketing Dream Team

One of the keys to direct marketing success is to create a team of individuals who work well together for the common good without sacrificing individual integrity. The factors to consider when creating your dream team include the following: 1. Every member must bring a specialized skill set to the group, with an understanding that different skill sets may take priority at any given time. Unique talents strengthen the organization when they are used as needed. Continuous focus on a specific area will reduce the overall effectiveness of your company. 2. All team members must respect one another. Since respect has to be earned, it takes