Sell Softly on the ‘Net
April 1, 2004

Sometimes a little back porch advice can go a long way, according to officials at a number of e-commerce sites that have added “ask-the-expert” forums to their marketing mix. Based on the premise that friendly answers to Web cruisers’ questions can lead only to new business, some catalogers created online advice forums that add a human voice to their Web images, while also growing revenues. As you’ve probably surmised, ask-the-expert forums — Q&A pages where customers go to post questions and get answers from a company expert — are simple to set up. A Web designer posts a picture of a company expert

Chop and Change
April 1, 2004

I’ve been leading a double life. I’m an editor by day, and in the evenings and on weekends I become a home remodeler. For the past four years, my husband, Tom, and I have been renovating a 40-year-old condo in center city Philadelphia. Our decision to renovate was a no-brainer. We got the unit for a reasonable price (all right, it was cheap). And it’s in a good building and a neighborhood that I love. “Needs a little work,” the realtor said cryptically. “Define ‘little,’” Tom gave her a sideways glance. We went to see it. She wasn’t kidding. By

Paid-search Marketing: Answers to Eight Key Questions
March 1, 2004

1. What is paid-search marketing? It consists of placing ads for your products/services on Internet search engines and content sites. These ads typically are small snippets of text linked to your merchandise pages. You pay when someone clicks through to your site from the ad. Cost-per-click (CPC) fees range from 5 cents to several dollars per click, with an industry average near 30 cents. Leading search-marketing channels include Google, Overture and Inktomi. Additional smaller channels and new large channels are expected to appear soon. 2. What sort of catalogers benefit the most from paid-search marketing? Catalogers with fair pricing, good Web sites and

Develop Responsible E-mail Campaigns
February 1, 2004

Few catalogers would dispute that e-mail marketing is one of the most cost-effective methods for communicating with customers. And in this day and age, it’s also one of the most hotly contested. Indeed, the e-mail channel is fraught with legal, technical and marketing challenges. This article provides suggestions for keeping your e-mail program legal and ethical, and it offers tips on increasing the chances that your e-mails make it to your customers. The Can Spam Act and You In December, President Bush signed the legislation known as “Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Market-ing Act of 2003” or Can Spam. The law,

The Art of Science
February 1, 2004

Problem: Before Ward’s Natural Science could expand its catalog operations to the Internet, it needed to develop a central repository for the accompanying data for its more than 18,000 products. Solution: Ward’s installed Pindar Systems’ content management system. Data for all products are now stored in one central database. Results: Ward’s launched an e-commerce site that has resulted in increased overall sales; employees have saved significant time in their data-management processes; and Ward’s was able to reduce two full-time positions. When executives at Ward’s Natural Science decided to expand the catalog operations to the Internet, they knew they’d need one central product database

20 Creative Ways to Drive Response via E-mail
October 1, 2003

Does e-mail marketing work? Yes! In fact, 39 percent of online shoppers said they bought something through a catalog after receiving e-mail, according to a study commissioned by DoubleClick. Indeed, e-mail marketing has become a critical tool in the marketer’s drive for product-specific sales and to move clearance merchandise. Other uses include: encouraging customers to visit retail stores and to shop from catalogs; rapidly collecting inexpensive market research; providing service updates; and supporting partner sales. Following are 20 tips that can help you effectively and profitably use the e-mail medium in your multichannel marketing plan. 1. Use e-mail to alert customers that a new

Lamps Plus Gives Customers a Searchlight, Online and Off
October 1, 2003

Like so many of his cataloging colleagues, Dennis Swanson, president and owner of multichannel merchant Lamps Plus, originally thought his company’s Web site would serve customers only as an information portal. With 44 retail stores, Swanson figured customers would browse for lighting products online, but then buy them in his stores. Yet buy online they did. Still, Swanson suspected that the number of online orders would increase if customers could more easily navigate through his site’s 4,000 SKUs. The clincher came when he put a group of in-store sales reps online to offer live customer help. Sales doubled after a month. He

E-mail List Testing: Tactics to Try
September 1, 2003

Developing an effective e-mail prospecting program, especially amid today’s heightened sensitivity to spam, can be a tough proposition, even for the most experienced direct marketing expert. To be sure, the raw numbers needed to justify large-scale, opt-in e-mail testing just haven’t been that great. In fact, some catalogers have given up on e-mail prospecting. But there are some trends in e-mail marketing that could make the sales channel more productive for mainstream catalogers. First, a quick background of the e-mail list industry: At the height of the e-mail craze three years ago, there were many compiled and category-driven lists (i.e., consumers

Six Key Features of Web Sites that Work
August 1, 2003

Seasoned etailers realize a Web site is more than just a “billboard in cyberspace.” They know the best sites create inviting, easy-to-use environments. Indeed, they’re interactive tools where prospects and customers can learn about a company and buy products. To be sure, a Web site is not a technological homage to yourself, your company or a Web designer. That said, however, showy, forever-to-download sites that are cool but little more than impediments to e-commerce are all too common on the Web. Indeed, the Webscape is littered with them. This article will explore how to avoid adding yours to the heap of Web junk. Usability

How to Polish Your Online-upselling Program
June 1, 2003

One cataloger refers to online upselling as “one of the easiest things you can do to improve your revenue.” That’s not to say that initiating online upselling is a snap. Rather, like many other e-commerce endeavors, online upselling is a balancing act between aggressiveness and subtlety in both offer type and presentation. Because the level of communication between consumer and cataloger is less straightforward than it is with contact center upsells, the risk of alienating consumers while upselling online is greater. But with careful consideration and proper attention to detail, online upselling can become a viable source of revenue and a vital part