E-commerce: Lessons Learned From Being an Amazon Partner
March 15, 2005

Becoming an Amazon.com Merchant is a tremendous way to supercharge your Internet exposure, said Sally Rue, former director of consumer business at Caswell-Massey, a soap and toiletries multichannel merchant, during her talk at the conference of the eCommerce and Catalog Systems Forum, held March 3 and 4 in New Orleans. Caswell-Massey’s foray into the Amazon world boosted the merchant’s incremental sales and enabled it to achieve better prospecting. “No question, it was 100 percent worth it,” said Rue, now an e-business consultant who retains her ties with Caswell-Massey. Indeed, in December, Caswell-Massey, a tiny firm by most measures, had three of the top 10 selling

By the Stats: Internet Most Fertile Ground for Fraud
March 1, 2005

Internet-related complaints comprised 53 percent of all fraud complaints processed in 2004, according to a report issued in February by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Other statistics reported by the agency: ¥ Online and offline identity theft accounted for 39 percent of the 635,173 fraud complaints filed in 2004. ¥ Internet auctions accounted for 16 percent of complaints. ¥ Shop-at-home and catalog sales accounted for 8 percent of complaints. ¥ Losses due to Internet fraud amounted to $265 million. ¥ In 35 percent of all fraud cases, victims were initially contacted via e-mail. For more information, visit www.ftc.gov/opa/2005/02/top102005.htm.

Special Report: Search Engine Marketing
March 1, 2005

Introduction Like other forms of e-commerce, the possibilities in search engine marketing (SEM) are only just beginning to be fully explored. In its own way, the craft of SEM is a lot like other methods of direct marketing: It requires a steady dose of testing, and in the end, a favorable return on investment. According to a recent SEM survey by New York-based Jupiter Research, just 25 percent of search marketers use “sophisticated SEM tactics. Marketers must cultivate sophistication to remain successful,” the survey states. What’s more, the search numbers continue to multiply. For instance, in November, Google doubled, to more than

By the Stats: Holiday Festivity Drives December Internet Traffic
February 15, 2005

Not surprisingly, holiday-related content drove most Web activity in December, with seasonal sites accounting for eight of the top 10 gaining properties and nine of the top 10 gaining categories, according to comScore Media Metrix monthly analysis of consumer activity online. Following are a few things comScore noted: * Five of the top 10 gaining categories in December were retail subcategories. * Jewelry, luxury goods and accessories was the fastest growing retail subcategory with a 30 percent increase in traffic from November, and a 15 percent increase from the same time last year. * The department store category continued to show growth with a

IT Management: Four Steps to Properly Backing Up Your Web Site Data
February 15, 2005

“For businesses using the Web as a revenue-generating channel, their data are important company assets,” says Chris Kivlehan, marketing manger for INetU Managed Hosting, a Web hosting provider. Losing a customer database in a system-wide crash or other crisis can devastate your business. Orders can go unfulfilled leading to dissatisfied customers and, in turn, reduced revenue. Kivlehan recommends that you talk with your IT manager or a qualified consultant/vendor to discuss back-up procedures and the technologies (e.g., tape drives, separate network storage devices, CDs) needed to do the job properly. In the meantime, here are four steps to help you focus your efforts: 1. Write a

Multichannel Marketing: Streamline In-store Pickup of Merchandise Purchased Online
February 15, 2005

Customers like the convenience of ordering merchandise online and picking it up at their local stores, says Lauren Freedman, president of the e-tailing group, a Chicago-based consultancy that provides e-commerce merchandising solutions. “As online shopping continues to become more mainstream, we believe that delivering a cohesive, multichannel shopping experience is essential,” she says. To that end, the e-tailing group offers the following checklist to multichannel retailers offering in-store pickup of items ordered on the Internet. 1. Consistently send an e-mail notification when merchandise is available for pickup; include detailed pick-up information. 2. Strive to have merchandise available for pickup within 24 to 48 hours from the order

By the Stats: Online Shopping
February 15, 2005

Ease of use, not low product prices, rules customers’ online shopping satisfaction rates, according to Keynote Systems, which recently tracked the shopping experiences of about 2,000 consumers. Here’s what Keynote found: * 59 percent: consumers who cited ease of use as the most important criterion when selecting an online shopping site. * 32 percent: consumers who said low prices were what drew them to particular sites. * 6.1: average number of problems a typical consumer encountered during a single shopping experience. Keynote Systems’ executives recommended that online merchants focus on the following: site performance, the best practices of e-commerce leaders and customer feedback.

Five Tips on Writing Easily Scannable Web Copy
January 4, 2005

Most Internet users don’t read the majority of what they view online, says John Morkes, a usability expert and director of the Human-Computer Interaction Group at Trilogy Software. In fact, he continues, 79 percent of all Internet users just briefly skim most of the material they see on the Web. In her book, “Web Copy That Sells” (American Management Association, www.amacombooks.org, $21.95), Maria Veloso gives five tips on how you can write copy that takes advantage of your customers’ method of viewing your Web site. 1. Use bulleted lists to summarize content. 2. Highlight selected keywords or phrases by using bold or italic

Manage E-mail Privacy Across Multiple Channels
January 4, 2005

With the start of the 2005, the Can Spam Act reaches its one year anniversary. As the year unfolds, it’s especially important to make sure your multichannel business is compliant. Bennie Smith, chief privacy officer at DoubleClick, offers the following tips on how to unify your e-mail campaigns and protect your customers’ privacy. - All e-mail communication to customers should be presented in a clear, consistent and standard fashion. This includes standardizing e-mail subject lines, headers and footers. Your e-mails need to clearly designate they are an advertisement or solicitation, as well as provide functional opt-out mechanisms, says Smith. - Multiple e-mail marketing databases of opt-in

Kick-start Your Opt-in E-mail Campaigns: Capture Customers’ Preferences
December 21, 2004

If your opt-in e-mail marketing campaigns could use a kick-start, try segmenting customer groups and then sending targeted messages based on their preferences, say officials at Responsys, an e-mail service provider based in Redwood City, Calif. They recommend that if you want to effectively communicate with your e-mail customers throughout their buying lifecycles, take the following actions. 1. “Keep the initial opt-in form with required information short and ask [customers] for preferences iteratively,” notes Responsys in its white paper”Making the Most of Each Customer Contact.” Include an optional secondary page on which customers can offer additional data about themselves, including interests, hobbies and how often