Too many marketers judge their sites by how they look. What really counts is how they perform. How does your site rank? What kind of quality shoppers (who convert) does it attract? Last month, Larry Kavanagh gave you six ways to get natural search moving. Here are 17 ways to make sure that traffic includes qualified shoppers who will buy.
Savvy shoppers don’t waste time clicking through multilevel navigational menus. Studies show they head right to the internal site search box and type item numbers, brand names or keywords to find specific items. If they don’t know what they want, then they may browse your navigation. But when they know exactly what to look for (or at least think they know), that box is your salesman.
Brick-and-mortar retail is suffering a lot more than direct. Your retail brethren don't enjoy the same flexibility that you have to shift marketing strategies, products, services, offers, selling tactics, among other things. Specifically, I'd like you to think about how and where you compete with retailers, and what tactics to employ now.
I'm constantly astounded by the number of people in our industry who have a cost-only orientation. They believe their sole job is to reduce costs as opposed to increase sales. You know those meetings — the ones that focus only on how you can reduce costs with little or no consideration to value received.
Having attended more than 15 catalog/multichannel conferences (ACCM) over the past two decades, I can easily report that this one will stand out for its low attendance and "doom-and-gloom" conversations. Yes, these aren't good economic times, but being the forever optimist, I wanted to point out several things that we should all be thinking about.
The more I study online marketing, the more I'm struck by the parallels to direct mail. Take this example: The other day in a client meeting we were discussing the different clickthrough rates (response rates) to various online marketing activities (lists).
In B-to-B marketing, there are essentially five promotional channels: inbound sales, outbound sales, outside sales, Web and catalog/mail. Given today’s marketplace, I thought it might be useful to talk about some of the bigger changes I see happening in each channel.
I met with an owner of a large multichannel B-to-B direct marketing company this week, and we discussed a common topic these days: How does one survive a 20 percent drop in sales? It's becoming clear to me and many others in the industry that the squeezes many companies are facing today are unprecedented and require significant changes, not just “tinkering.”
I'm a longtime cataloger marketer, and I'm intrigued at how the new generation of e-commerce marketers are beginning to sound more and more like circulation managers. I took part in a meeting the other day where performance variables of a particular company’s Web site were discussed. The question on the table: How do we get more out of the Web site? Here's a recap of what was discussed. (Note the similarities to catalog mailing.)
I recently met with an experienced B-to-B direct marketer to talk about what his company is doing to “get more with less.” It's a common theme these days. We discussed how many marketers, particularly new e-marketers, weren't paying enough attention to the basics, such as RFM segmentation and a good contact strategy. The discussion then turned to how his company had improved on the tried-and-true RFM tool. Here are some key points I took away from that discussion:
Lately I've heard a number of B-to-B catalogers complain about falling e-mail response rates and rising unsubscribe rates. It very quickly comes to light that, for the most part, they're following a “batch-and-blast” e-mail strategy. They form an offer and send it to their entire e-mail lists. No B-to-B cataloger I've ever met has a completely homogeneous customer file. In fact, it's quite the contrary: They all have groups of customers from different segments who want and need to be treated differently.
For years our industry has talked about true one-to-one marketing. It's the end result of all our database marketing expertise. Well, some B-to-B catalogers are still talking and not doing, making me wonder how they continue to survive.
Many people I talk to continue to enjoy great success with their B-to-B Web sites, even in this terrible economy. Visitors, orders, sales and customer satisfaction are all up. In most cases, it's the "bright spot" of the business that counterbalances falling mail response rates and dramatically increasing operating costs. The one question, however, that needs to be asked is: Are your Web sales growing fast enough? "Enough," of course, is a relative concept, but any business should make sure it's getting as much as it can from its Web channel. Ask yourself these questions to see how your company's Web site is performing:
B-to-B catalogers always have had several advantages over retailers. They can maintain and offer wider and deeper product offerings as they're not limited to retail space. They can provide expert telephone sales and support, warranty and repair services, installation advice, and other “knowledge-based” services much better than a retailer can. Furthermore, new Web site shopping functionalities make it easy for customers to find, shop, learn, compare prices, order return and access a host of other related services much better than they could if they were standing in a store.
A wise mentor of mine once told me, "The best way to keep your job is to do your job." The same can be said these days for keeping your business. In times of high stress like now, I believe that we all must remember to do "the basics," and do them well. While it may sound overly simplistic, I'm reminded that most — more than half — B-to-B catalog companies aren't performing the basics well. Here are 10 questions to ask yourself to see if your business has all the basics covered: