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

Maximize Sales With a Complementary Catalog/Web Relationship
December 7, 2004

We are seeing an increase in the growth and financial performance of many specialty catalogs. None of these companies are old-fashioned general catalogers, and all share the following distinct characteristic: most of the new-to-file customers are coming in via the Internet, while most of the sales are being generated by a catalog (even if the order was placed on the Web site). The economics of finding Web-generated customers searching to meet specific interests are often more favorable than those obtained by direct mail prospecting. Shoppers have become more adept at locating products using various Internet capabilities, such as search engines and product syndicators of catalog

The Bombay Company’s Winning Formula
November 1, 2004

Furniture and home accessories multichannel merchant The Bombay Company has made aggressive strides into e-mail marketing during the past two years. The results have been worth the effort, says Matt Corey, vice president of marketing and e-commerce. The Bombay Company has 650,000 opt-in names on its e-mail list and successfully integrates its campaigns with those of its retail, catalog and e-commerce channels. Donna Loyle, editor in chief of Catalog Success, asked Corey to share the secrets of his success in e-mail marketing. Catalog Success: What mechanisms did you use to go from 20,000 opt-in, or registered, e-mail names to 650,000 in only two

Get More Conversions
October 1, 2004

Aaron Montgomery Ward mailed the first catalog in 1872, and catalogers have been working to perfect the art of selling from the printed page ever since. By now, savvy catalogers understand the factors needed for effective print design, including cover imagery, page count, product density, copy, typography, color, paper, trim, etc. The Web, in contrast, is in its infancy. The graphical Internet dates back only to 1991. Leading online firms (e.g., Yahoo!, Amazon, eBay, Google) are no more than 10 years old. It isn’t surprising, then, that many catalogers have more experience creating strong print pages than Web pages. This article offers four suggestions

Case Study: E-commerce Blooms at Bloomingdale’s By Mail
September 1, 2004

Problem: Bloomingdale’s By Mail catalog didn’t have an e-commerce counterpart in 2002. Solution: The company put its print catalogs online and improved e-mail marketing efforts a year later. Results: Business increased fourfold in one year, and Bloomingdale’s online sales channel has grown to more than 20 percent of its overall business. In early 2002, Bloomingdale’s executives realized they needed to expand their e-commerce capabilities. “At the time, the company’s site merely was a store marketing Web site,” explains Charlie Silver, vice president of marketing at Bloomingdale’s By Mail. The company initially set up a catalog quick-order function on its Web site. The only

A Healthy Sign
September 1, 2004

A bit of interesting news crossed my desk the other day. Three-quarters of the CEOs of fast-growth companies see the recent economic upturn lasting for another two to three years, according to a survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC). While that’s good news, most of the 392 executives who responded to the survey are proceeding with caution, managing with a planning cycle of one year or less. “Although most have a hopeful outlook, they continue to plan using a cautious, short-term approach,” noted David VanEgmond of PWC. Given the volatility of the last few years, I’ll gladly take the “cautious optimism” results as a

Check Out the Web’s Hidden Treasures
September 1, 2004

The World Wide Web is full of hidden treasures for direct marketers. The trick simply is knowing where these interesting spots can be found. For this article, I asked catalogers and e-tailers for their suggestions of lesser-known online resources, information sources and new ideas related to e-commerce. The resulting list is somewhat eclectic. Hopefully, it will trigger a new idea and help with your Web marketing. DIAGNOSTIC TOOLS DNS Stuff, www.dnsstuff.com/ Ever encounter something odd such as a well-known site disappears, an e-mail to a good address bounces or a customer says your site is down when it isn’t? Often the problem stems