Boost Your Web Site’s Conversion Rates
June 1, 2003

Like so many facets of direct marketing, improving Web-site conversions depends as much on applying an appropriate focus, some common sense and thorough planning as it does on adopting the latest technological breakthrough. Indeed, 43 percent of Web executives, marketers, developers and IT managers said conversion rates are the most important Web-site metrics they track, according to a survey from NetIQ. It’s astonishing, then, that 66 percent didn’t know their own conversion rates. What’s needed? The logical first step toward improving conversion rates — and overall Web-site performance — is to apply some of the same knowledge you use in initiatives for

Search Sophistication
May 1, 2003

Neiman Marcus customers have discerning tastes, and visitors to its Web site deserve a shopping experience that offers the same level of sophistication, says Michael Crotty, vice president of marketing, Neiman Marcus Online. Following the relaunch of its Web site last spring, Crotty earmarked the next priority: improve the site’s online search capabilities. Previously, Neiman Marcus had an out-of-the-box solution that did searches only on a text and product-category basis. “It had to be a one-to-one match [to work],” says Crotty. “But we wanted shoppers to be able to search however they choose. We needed a very flexible solution.” The need was especially

Ways to Measure Your Site’s True Metrics
April 1, 2003

By 2005, online sales are expected to become nearly one-third of a cataloger’s business, according to The Direct Marketing Association. To track the success of your online efforts, you need a way to measure the effectiveness of your Web site — and your efforts to get people to visit it. What’s more, your measurements should go beyond the typical Web-server log-file analyzers that offer only performance- and site-driven data such as the ambiguous number of hits, page views, user sessions and unique visitors. Today, more powerful tools are available to measure campaign success, customer experience, e-commerce activity and overall return on investment (ROI).

Refine Your Search Engine Marketing Initiatives
April 1, 2003

Spring clearances and upcoming Mother’s Day promotions offer catalogers a great opportunity to tweak their Internet search-marketing campaigns and cast a wider net for reaching customers. Rotating copy and thinking more broadly about keyword-search terms are just a few ways in which you can better blanket the online-search market to stretch your advertising dollars, spur brand recognition and attract eyeballs. Taking a multichannel marketing approach and integrating online strategies with offline promotions also offers more leverage around spring advertising opportunities. Paid placement Internet search, which enables you to bid for placement at the top of search engines’ results pages, can help you

Netting New Names in Lean Times
April 1, 2003

Gathering new buyer names for your housefile presents a challenge in any economic climate. But consumers’ current spartan buying habits have some catalogers puzzling about how, or even how much, to prospect. Some are using new avenues, while others staunchly stick to the basics. Associate Editor Gabrielle Mosquera asked three catalogers to share their thoughts on prospecting in today’s challenging environment. Larry Brown founder, Whatever Works catalog Market: business-to-consumer Type of products: garden, home and pest-control items Catalog Success: What do you think are the most popular prospecting media for catalogers today and why? Brown: As always, it’s other catalogs and their databases

Case Study: Yankee Candle Customizes in a Flash
March 1, 2003

Problem: Yankee Candle’s Web site made placing custom orders so difficult that many customers had to call the company to finish the transaction. Solution: Redesign the Web site (above) and install Flash technology. Results: The average sale of customer orders increased by 25 percent. Since 1996, Yankee Candle had generated profits through its Web site’s Custom Candles program, which lets customers choose the fragrance, message and message label for a personalized candle. Its business mainly came from people buying favors for weddings and bridal showers. But the site’s static ordering page presented problems. For example, it prevented customers from viewing all of

Stonewall Kitchen: Ingredients for Success
March 1, 2003

Since Stonewall Kitchen dropped its first consumer catalog in 1999, the Maine-based specialty foods and kitchen accessories merchant has increased its average order value by 210 percent and its housefile by — brace yourself — 1,275 percent. Meanwhile, clients of its wholesale channel — which provides 50 percent of the company’s overall revenue — include veritable giants of the retail world such as Crate and Barrel, Marshall Field’s and L.L. Bean. Perhaps more impressive is that Stonewall Kitchen manages to maintain a catalog staff totaling only five and an e-commerce staff of three. “Just a matter of hard work,” is how Joan Walsh,

Secure & Retain High-quality E-mail Lists
March 1, 2003

E-mail marketing has undergone a major transition during the past couple of years. A survey conducted by The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) found that two-thirds of U.S. companies claimed an increase in their sales in 2001 as a result of using e-mail marketing. Catalogers who use this marketing vehicle seem to do particularly well: Based on a June 2002 report from DoubleClick, catalogers’ e-mails have the highest click-through rates of any industry — 9.5 percent. One of the main reasons e-mail marketing is enjoying success is the increased quality of the e-mail lists available. While there continues to be considerable controversy about how

Case Study: TopBulb Beckons with Search Engine Terms
February 1, 2003

Problem: Boost a B-to-B catalog’s reach Solution: Expand sales into the consumer market using search engine marketing Result: 30 percent of TopBulb’s overall sales now come from the consumer market, from 0 percent four years ago Consumers began finding their way to the TopBulb.com Web site soon after its launch in 1999, and they found the site almost exclusively through search engine marketing. Until 1998, Indiana-based Gray Supply Co. produced only a print catalog, selling hard-to-find light bulbs to the b-to-b and medical markets. Though the company’s founders had hired Phil Bonello as president and CEO that year to increase sales, he also saw

25 Tips to Boost Web Traffic & Sales
February 1, 2003

As the difficult economy soldiers on, undoubtedly you’re looking to improve sales from all channels, including your Web site. But how will you do so? Amy Africa, president of Creative Results, an online research and consultancy based in Williston, VT, offered attendees of last fall’s conference for the New England Mail Order Association the following tips for e-tailers who want to increase Web traffic and generate more sales. 1. Make your site load fast. The average site loads in 46 seconds on a dial-up modem, but most people decide if they’re going to stay on a site within eight to 12 seconds. So they’re