E-Commerce

Climb to the Top of Search Engine Charts
September 1, 2002

Want to know the secret to stellar search engine rankings for your catalog? It’s not technical tweaks or coding tricks. Page-one search engine rankings on spidering search engines such as Google and Inktomi mostly hinge on one thing: your Web site copy. Search engine optimization (SEO) writing entails expertly weaving keyphrases (e.g., cashmere sweaters, men’s digital watches) throughout your online marketing text. Proper keyphrase research and positioning will reward you with top-tier rankings and online branding. But if you starve the search engine and ignore your keyphrases, your site rankings may slump. Brand Your Business, Beat Your Competition If you’ve ever believed that your

Case Study: Godiva Sweetens Its Site
September 1, 2002

The fish are the last to discover the sea, so says the Chinese proverb. This analogy may stretch to Godiva, whose staffers had been working so closely with its site they weren’t sure what was needed to make it even better. According to Beth Brown, Godiva’s senior manager of interactive, prior to an October 2001 makeover the company’s interactive group tweaked its site based only on competitive benchmarking and intuition. “Before, I literally had mock-ups [of page designs] and would ask [my staff] what they thought,” she says. This time, Brown sought advice directly from customers with usability testing. Brown and

Products: From Paper to Pixels
September 1, 2002

A customer’s online and print product experiences can be summed up as the difference between two words, according to Bridget Fahrland, executive creative director at e-business consultancy Fry Multimedia. “The Web provides proactive shopping, while a print catalog provides reactive shopping,” she explains. “On a Web site, you’re allowed to play more with what you see.” But make sure to play by the rules; a balance of romantic (read: promotional) copy and helpful product information is key to keeping a user’s interest, and consequently, business. Petra Schindler Carter, director of consulting services at Fry, points out that consumers don’t have to make cognizant decisions

Integrate Your E-commerce Solutions
July 1, 2002

Long after the Internet bubble burst, e-commerce is alive and well for direct marketers and is the fastest-growing direct commerce sales channel. Catalog companies have three options for managing the dynamic online marketing environment. An Independent Adjunct At one extreme, a catalog’s e-commerce operation can stand alone as a totally independent adjunct to the traditional enterprise. Although it may share some of the same merchandise, it also may feature items that are not in the catalog. When it does offer catalog items, they may be only a subset of the full catalog line. In this extreme scenario, no effort is needed to

Close More Online Sales
June 1, 2002

Catalogers know the Web can be a valuable place to sell product. However, it’s likely that many are missing the chance to generate even more sales via the Web. To boost your chance at success, pay as much attention to closing the sale online as you would in your print catalogs—perhaps even more so due to the nature of the Web. Therefore, to convert more of your Web shoppers into buyers, consider three key points in your Web-shopping process: online customer service; shipping and handling; and order-taking and processing. Online Customer Service Here are two commonly held misconceptions about online customer service:

Channel Crossing: Guiding Customers to Web Sites
May 1, 2002

When direct marketing companies first invested in the World Wide Web, creative strategies and marketing budgets for online and off-line operations were segregated. Some executives believed the new medium required different marketing strategies and personnel, while others wanted to keep staffers and budgets detached, facilitating a lucrative Web spin-off. Today both of these rationales have been debunked. The rules of direct marketing hold fast regardless of channel. But the fallout from these early missteps continues: Catalogers sometimes measure the success of their campaigns in silos, neglecting the influence of campaigns across sales channels. “When people try to track traffic to the

E-mail Appending: Pros, Cons and Action Tips
April 1, 2002

Spam is in the eye of the beholder. This adage offered by Anne Holland, publisher of MarketingSherpa.com, encapsulates the current discussions about e-mail appending. Most of the debates center around privacy as it relates to recipients’ permission. Some experts propose that the existence of a business relationship in one channel (e.g., direct mail) doesn’t justify marketers’ contact through another (e.g., online) when the customer hasn’t given his or her specific permission. “Until [customers] grant permission to send that e-mail, you shouldn’t assume you have it,” says Margie Arbon, director of operations for Mail Abuse Prevention System, a non-profit organization that works with Internet service

High-tech Customer Service
March 1, 2002

Technological advancements within contact centers are revolutionizing the way catalogers answer and manage inbound calls. And if implemented properly, automated, inbound call programs can streamline caller-cataloger interactions and improve overall customer relations. Added bonus: By using these technologies, catalogers are saving time and money—good news in these economically challenging times. The Virtual CSR Imagine a virtual customer service representative (CSR) through which callers can place, change or check their order status. For example, officials at NetByTel (www.netbytel.com) say their NetByTel Connected system’s virtual agents recognize human colloquialisms, ask callers to repeat information the technology couldn’t initially register, and it even

CS0202_Fea_Ecomm
February 1, 2002

Want to know the secret to stellar search engine rankings for your catalog? It’s not technical tweaks or coding tricks. Page-one search engine rankings on spidering search engines such as Google and Inktomi mostly hinge on one thing: your Web site copy. Search engine optimization (SEO) writing entails expertly weaving keyphrases (e.g., cashmere sweaters, men’s […]

Try Teamwork: Internet Partnerships
December 1, 2001

Putting aside for a moment the criticisms about its overall business model, Amazon.com offers numerous lessons for Web retailers—namely, the inherent beauty of Internet partnerships. Indeed, Amazon set the standard for this mainstay in the e-commerce world, and numerous catalogers have adopted these principles to great success. In fact, 10 percent of all Internet sales and 3 to 5 percent of all online catalog Web sales come through affiliate sites—and these numbers are rising rapidly, noted two consultants at the recent Direct Marketing Association Annual conference in Chicago. In their seminar entitled “Internet Partnerships: Understanding the Key to Catalog Growth,” John Deneen, president of