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

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